About Better Cotton

Cotton is used by nearly everyone across the world on a daily basis. Cotton production alone supports the livelihoods of more than 250 million people. For millions of people, often in some of the world’s poorest countries, cotton is a vital link to the global economy.

Cotton is a natural and versatile fibre; it grows well in difficult environments and it is fully renewable. Yet the future of cotton is vulnerable to challenges including climate change, gender inequality, labour shortages, water scarcity and pest pressure.

Today, less than 25% of cotton is grown in a way that actively protects people and the environment. BCI is striving to transform cotton production from the ground up. We want cotton farmers to become more resilient to unpredictable climate conditions and be able to make a decent living from farming by producing Better Cotton – better for farmers, the environment and the sector’s future. To achieve meaningful impact, this means reaching the farmers who need the most support, helping them to access vital training, inputs, services and finance, and building their capacity to adopt sustainable agricultural practices.

Better Cotton is grown in a way that protects and restores the environment, while also improving farmers’ livelihoods. BCI Farmers receive training on the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria – one of six elements of the Better Cotton Standard System, BCI’s holistic approach to sustainable cotton production which covers all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic.

The Principles and Criteria address how to use water more efficiently and consider water use in the context of local water resources, using land responsibly and conserving biodiversity, caring for soil health and lowering the impact of conventional crop protection practices (replacing them, where possible, with sustainable alternatives), preserving fibre quality and promoting Decent Work – work that offers fair pay, security and equal opportunities for learning and progression, in an environment where people feel safe, respected, and able to express their concerns or negotiate better conditions.

Farmers who adhere to the Better Cotton Principles and Criteria receive a BCI licence and can sell their cotton as Better Cotton.

By helping farmers to grow cotton in a way that reduces stress on the 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 the Better Cotton Standard and the development of a new and more sustainable mainstream commodity, Better Cotton.

Why Better Cotton | Reasons for supporting Better Cotton

Stories from the Field | Hear from the cotton farmers implementing more sustainable farming practices