About Better Cotton
Cotton is a globally important and widely grown crop. It is an industry that employs around 250 million people in the production stages alone. For millions of people, often in some of the world’s poorest countries, cotton is a vital link to the global economy.
Cotton is used by nearly every single person on the planet on a daily basis. But cotton is often produced in a way that puts unnecessary levels of stress on the environment, the local economies and the communities producing it. From improper use of pesticides, to low incomes and even child labour, there are many ways in which improvements need to be made. Better Cotton came to life out of the belief we can transform this vital sector.
BCI brings together farmers, ginners, traders, spinners, mills, cut & sew, manufacturers, retailers, brands and grassroots organisations in a unique global community committed to developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.
By helping farmers to grow cotton in a way that reduces stress on the local environment and improves the livelihoods and welfare of farming communities, BCI aims to create long-term change. It is a global approach that provides a solution for the mainstream cotton industry, including both smallholders and large scale farmers. All farmers can benefit from implementing Better Cotton and the development of a new and more sustainable mainstream commodity, Better Cotton.
Better Cotton is a product,
Better Cotton is a philosophy, achieving sustainability through continuous improvement,
And Better Cotton is a movement of like-minded organisations.
Over 1.5 million farmers across 23 countries are working hard to produce a growing supply of Better Cotton. Our partners deliver field-level capacity building programs that help farmers understand and apply the Better Cotton Production Principles, improve the sustainability of their farms and gain a Better Cotton license. These licenses enable farmers to sell their cotton as Better Cotton, increasing the supply of more sustainable cotton in the global market, and linking farmers with a growing demand for more sustainable raw materials. We also work with certain existing national sustainability standards to allow farmers already adhering to those standards to sell their cotton as Better Cotton.
We’re on track to achieving our 2020 goal to reach 5 million farmers and produce 30% of global cotton supply as Better Cotton through the support of over 50 partners. These partners take on significant leadership for delivering Better Cotton programmes, implementing continuous improvement plans, identifying opportunities for innovation and collecting the field level data we use to monitor and evaluate our work.
The BCI team, with Head Offices in Switzerland and the UK, and regional offices in China, India, Mozambique, and Pakistan, as well as staff based in the USA and Turkey, are well placed to support our partners as they engage and train Better Cotton farmers.
To learn more about key environmental, economic and social indicators achieved by BCI Farmers, refer to our annual Harvest Reports.
The Better Cotton Standard System is a holistic approach to sustainable cotton production which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. Each of the elements – from the Production Principles and Criteria to the monitoring mechanisms which show Results and Impact – work together to support the Better Cotton Standard System, and the credibility of Better Cotton and BCI. The system is designed to ensure the exchange of good practices, and to encourage the scaling up of collective action to establish Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.
Below is an explanation of each of the component parts which make up the Better Cotton Standard System. Click on the links for more detailed information about each element:
- ‘Production Principles and Criteria’: providing a global definition of Better Cotton through 6 key principles.
- ‘Capacity Building’: supporting and training farmers in growing Better Cotton, through working with experienced partners at field level.
- ‘Assurance Program’: regular farm assessment and measurement of results through 8 consistent results indicators, encouraging farmers to continuously improve.
- ‘Chain of Custody’: connecting supply and demand in the Better Cotton supply chain.
- ‘Claims framework’: spreading the word about Better Cotton by communicating powerful data, information and stories from the field.
- ‘Results and Impact’: monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to measure progress/change, to ensure that Better Cotton delivers the intended impact.
Better Cotton is produced by farmers all over the world who:
- Minimise the harmful impact of crop protection practices
- Use water efficiently and care for the availability of water
- Care for the health of the soil
- Conserve natural habitats
- Care for and preserve the quality of the fibre
- Promote decent work
Producing Better Cotton has real economic, social and environmental benefits. The communities of Better Cotton producers are starting to genuinely feel those changes. But it is the stories from the farmers and workers themselves that really convince. Below is a compilation of some of their personal stories that we’re proud to share:
BCI are working with pairs of ginners and spinners to highlight the efforts of those who are making Better Cotton a reality. They are proof of a system that works, and which is gaining momentum.
Here they tell us in their own words why others should join the movement and continue to procure more and more Better Cotton.