A ‘footprint’ that cannot be ignoredCotton is one of the crops that is most in demand. It’s also one of the thirstiest.
|8,000 L||Amount of water needed to produce a single pair of jeans (find out more)|
Moreover, cotton farming uses more pesticides than other crops – which pollute water supplies.
|16%||Percentage of pesticides used globally for cotton (2.5% of the world's cultivated land), more than any other single major crop Source: EJF. (2007). The deadly chemicals in cotton. Environmental Justice Foundation in collaboration with Pesticide Action Network|
► Read more why the cotton industry needs to minimise its environmental impact
The stress cotton puts on water supplies isn’t sustainable – for the cotton industry, people, wildlife or ecosystems.
Our approachWWF is putting several solutions into practice to ease the strain.
We helped start the Better Cotton Initiative in 2005 to reduce the amount of water and chemicals used to grow cotton – and to improve the lives and livelihoods of cotton farmers worldwide.
Progress4%: of global cotton is Better Cotton (Based on data avaliable as of August 2013)
We’re working on many other projects worldwide to improve cotton production and protect freshwater too.
► Read more about WWF’s work on better cotton
Example: How better cotton can save rivers and livesCotton couldn’t be more vital to Pakistan’s economy – it makes up 55% of exports. But vast amounts of water are sucked from rivers like the Indus (97% to be exact) to irrigate cotton fields. Falling water levels leave millions of people and wildlife without enough to drink and wash, and threaten freshwater ecosystems.
More sustainability, more income
The Better Cotton Initiative is turning these problems around, helping farmers use less water and chemicals – and increasing their income at the same time.
Thanks to the Initiative, while maintaining their yields, Pakistani farmers:
- Cut their water use by 37%
- Cut their pesticide use by 47%
- Cut their chemical fertilizer use by 40%
- Increased their incomes by 15%, as they’re using less water and chemicals
- Enjoy better working conditions and living standards
Better Production for a Living Planet
- Cotton is the highest user of pesticides globally. Annually, across all agricultural sectors, about 20,000 deaths are associated with pesticide poisoning.
- Cotton production can also be associated with child labour, debt bondage, soil degradation, agrochemical use, and high water use.
Cotton is used by nearly every consumer on the planet and accounts for at least 40% of all textiles.
- The Better Cotton model can work as the mainstream solution for sustainability in the cotton sector globally.
- Farmers who produce Better Cotton commit to achieving principles which support poverty alleviation and/or environmental protection.
- By cutting the costs and reducing ‘inputs’ (agrochemicals and water), growing Better Cotton leaves farmers with greater profit.
- Better soil quality and reduced water use from growing Better Cotton allows for growth of food crops.
The Better Cotton Initiative has a big vision – to change the way cotton is grown everywhere. Levi’s shares that vision.
We’re very appreciative of WWF’s pioneering work with cotton farmers in Pakistan, and support it financially and through our procurement practices. We’re very excited that better cotton will soon be finding its way into Levi’s jeans.
Be part of the solution
► If you are concerned about the environmental and social impact of the cotton products that you buy—that’s clothes and linen among other—contact your favourite clothing companies and ask them if they’re part of the Better Cotton Initiative.