The story so far.
Look down. What are you wearing? Chances are that one or more of your clothes are made from cotton. Or maybe it’s your bed sheets, towels or the bank notes in your pocket. Nearly everyone on Earth uses or wears cotton products every day. To meet this demand, over 26 million tonnes of cotton were produced in 2014 in around 85 countries around the world, supporting 250 million people’s livelihoods in the production stages alone.
Cotton is a renewable natural resource but the future of cotton production is vulnerable to poor environmental management, poor working conditions and unstable markets. In 2005, a group of visionary organisations came together to work out a practical solution that would secure the sustainable future of the industry. The result was Better Cotton.
Better Cotton means producing cotton in a way that cares for the environment through processes that minimise the negative impact of fertilisers and pesticides, and care for water, soil health and natural habitats. BCI Farmers achieve better yields and more financial security through access to global markets, whilst improving the working conditions in their fields.
Cotton that is made in this way meets the Better Cotton Standard. The standard has been developed by the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), an independent multi-stakeholder organisation whose members are committed to making Better Cotton a mainstream product. From NGO partners to garment manufacturers, from the farmers to household brand names, all BCI’s members are working to transform the way cotton is produced and safeguard the future of the sector.
The standard gives assurance that more responsible farming is happening on the ground. Every step of cotton production, from sowing and growing to picking and harvesting, adheres to six production principles. BCI Farmers are also expected to continually improve their production processes. The standard can be applied to different scales of cotton production – from smallholder farms in Mali, Mozambique and Tajikistan to large, industrialised operations in Brazil and China.
International brands including adidas, H&M, IKEA, Levi Strauss & Co., M&S and Nike already use Better Cotton in their supply chains. Their support and that of all BCI’s members means that more and more Better Cotton is coming onto the market. In 2014, 7.6% of all the cotton produced globally was Better Cotton. By 2020, we want this figure to be 30%. By then, the cotton products you use every day are more likely to contain cotton produced in a more sustainable way. That’s better for the farmers, the environment and the cotton sector, and that’s better for all of us.
What makes BCI and Better Cotton unique?
- Better Cotton is transformational, aiming to become a mainstream solution for more sustainable cotton.
- Better Cotton is global, focusing on continuous improvement which can be applied by any cotton farm in any global region.
- Better Cotton already has buy-in by business, supported by major global brands and retailers and actors from across the cotton supply chain.
- Better Cotton has results. The standard is tested and proven, and we can show comparative progress year on year.
- Better Cotton is inclusive, working with smallholder to large farms, and welcoming other standards.
Be part of something Better.