Cotton has been a staple in textile fibers for centuries. What about today?

Cotton is the 2nd most produced fiber in the world. The fiber is held dear for its versatility, comfort, ease of care and appearance. The material fits nice, falls easy and makes for a go-to textile for designers and consumers all over the world.

In 2018/2019, 26.05 million metric tons of cotton were produced; the same as the weight of 38 million Holstein (classic black and white) cows. The number 1 spot is occupied by polyester, in which over 2x more volume was produced (55.1 million mt).

2.5% of cultivated land is dedicated to the growing of cotton. The crop is water intensive as well and grown in arid climates; perhaps most dramatically demonstrated by the disappearance of the Aral Sea over the past decades. Furthermore, cotton requires 16% of the world’s insecticides.

The aforementioned trends and statistics have driven more demand for organic cotton (grown with minimal chemicals) however, much debate surrounds the relative improvement from traditional cotton growing. Organic cotton requires little to no harmful pesticides but needs more land to grow.

What can you and I do? Some impactful actions you can make right now are buying second hand, donating, supporting sustainable companies and taking care of clothes already in your wardrobe. The transition to a more sustainable fashion sector heeds winds from the direction of the consumer.

How would you weave innovation and solutions in cotton?


Daystar, Jesse S. et al. “Sustainability Trends And Natural Resource Use In U.S. Cotton Production”. Bioresources, vol 12, no. 1, 2016. Bioresources, doi:10.15376/biores.12.1.362-392.

Muthu, Subramanian Senthikannan. Assessing the Environmental Impact of Textiles and the Clothing Supply Chain. WOODHEAD Publishing, 2014.

Muthu, Subramanian Senthilkannan. Roadmap To Sustainable Textiles And Clothing. Springer, 2014, pp. 1-35.

“Preferred Textile And Materials: Market Report 2019”. Textileexchange.Org, 2019, Accessed 30 Nov 2020.

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