That’s according to the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), which has revealed that CmiA cotton emits up to 40% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and, being exclusively cultivated with rainwater, saves more than 2,100 litres of water per kilogram of cotton fibre compared with conventional cotton.

CmiA is an initiative run by the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF) which conducts training programmes to teach the cotton farmers about more efficient and environmentally friendly cultivation methods helping them improve the quality of their cotton, yield higher crops, and earn a better income.

When a retailer makes use of CmiA cotton, the smallholder farmers receive on-site training in improved cultivation methods which allow them to increase their crop yields, generate higher income and thus raise their standard of living through their own efforts. Strictly speaking, CmiA is not organic cotton but a strong emphasis is placed on reducing the use of pesticides.

Environmental impact

AbTF managing director Tina Stridde said: “The second lifecycle assessment of Cotton made in Africa is our response to the growing interest among consumers and businesses in the environmental impacts of the production of goods such as textiles.

“With the publication of this study, we are pleased to be able to once again confirm the positive environmental impact of Cotton made in Africa. This enables us to provide manufacturers and consumers with useful facts with which the environmental impacts of Cotton made in Africa with cotton from other sources and other materials can be compared.”

In August, social enterprise Cotton Connect called for the cotton supply chain to increase farmer training to increase yields and reduce the water footprint in cotton growing regions such as India, Pakistan and West Africa.

In the same month, H&M announced that it had made a 29% increase in its use of organic cotton in the past year as part of its target to use only sustainable cotton in its products by 2020.

—Read about new sustainability initiatives in the fashion industry here—

Lois Vallely

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