German retailer Otto launched a campaign highlighting cotton sustainability last month. The campaign focuses on sustainable cotton production in Africa, emphasizing Otto’s 10-year working relationship with Cotton Made in Africa. By 2020, Otto aims to use Cotton made in Africa for all of their products.  By focusing attention on small shareholders in Africa, Otto is demonstrating its commitment to sustainable cotton and raising consumer awareness about the issue.

Cotton Made in Africa aims to improve the living conditions of cotton farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 3,4 million smallholder farmers grow cotton, and more than 20 million people attribute at least part of their livelihoods to cotton production. Cotton farmers receive training on efficient and sustainable farming techniques. Smallholder farmers also gain basic business knowledge and pre-financing of required equipment and materials. An international alliance of textile companies, including 20 retailers and more than 60 spinning mills, purchases cotton specifically from Cotton Made in Africa. Brands include Cargill, Crate&Barrel, and Hermes.

Other worldwide organizations are also leaders in pushing for sustainable cotton in supply chains. The Better Cotton Initiative published its first set of global standards for achieving Better Cotton in the supply chain.

Better Cotton is produced by farmers who:

  1. Minimize the harmful impact of crop protection practices
  2. Use water efficiently and care for the availability of water
  3. Care for the health of the soil
  4. Conserve natural habitats
  5. Care for and preserve the quality of the fiber
  6. Promote Decent Work

Levi Strauss is a current Better Cotton Initiative partner and an initial member.

Cotton is responsible for 2.6% of the global water footprint for consumer goods, and the cotton industry is responsible for the use of 10% of agricultural chemicals used worldwide. Demand for sustainable and fair trade cotton has increased as environmental and human rights issues throughout the supply chain have become more visible. The first step to ensure a sustainable and ethically responsible supply chain is to trace materials to the source. This requires effective supply chain engagement, centralized data, and aggregated reporting that cloud-based solutions easily provide in a one-stop shop. Click here to see how this can ease your workload.