Consumer’s role in making cotton sustainable
In the following article we will review some tips for consumers when shopping:
1.Choose Brands wisely
Do not only look for companies that provide organic cotton, but also those who take back clothing pieces and recycle them to avoid landfills. Brands such as Patagonia, Lewi’s, Madewell, H&M, and Zara take back clothes.
Also, support the brands who keep checking on their supply chain. Brands like H&M, Nike, Adidas, Burberry, Under Armour, and Tommy Hilfiger have taken a pledge that they will not use cotton from the areas where there are concerns that the force labours are used.
2.Go one step higher, use handspun organic cotton- Khadi
Source- Khadi Weaving at Ponduru (Accessed 15 June 2021)
Khadi is a handspun and hand-weave fabric that is made by spinners, weavers, dyers, block makers, printers to tailors. The process uses cleaner renewable energy and natural dyes. 1 meter of khadi fabric consumes 3 litres of water compared to 55 litres of water required for conventional cotton. More importantly, it provides jobs to 100s of artisans.
It's time to start recognizing the Eco-Labels and consider them before purchasing. Eco-labelling is to certified fabrics based on different criteria of the supply chain like how organically it is produced, to what dyes and bleaches are used to taking care of no child labour or forced labours in the process.
Upcycling is to reform old clothes into something new. There are several upcycling techniques we can do and some we might be doing unknowingly, taught by our ancestors. Patchwork is one such ancient technique where small fabric pieces are sewed to make larger designs. Follow brands with clothing pieces that are only made of second-hand clothes like retro-style pieces, Rubymoon, Asos’ Reclaimed Vintage and many more.
Source- Thrifting (Accessed 15 June 2021)
5.Hoarding and Thriftiness
These are two powerful words that came from our older generation. By this, they don’t only carry forward the clothes, but also the cultural values, ancient techniques and the stories related to that clothing piece. Even in this pandemic, we have revealed that we don’t need trends but basic clothes to survive. So instead of investing in fast and short term fashion, buy classic long-lasting pieces.
We should consciously take fashion towards the direction where it doesn’t exploit but give opportunities to people to make the world a better living place.
Environmental issues with cotton - The world counts (2021). https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/consumption/clothing/cotton-farming-water-consumption/story
Hoskins, T. (2014). Cotton production linked to images of the dried-up Aral Sea basin.https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sustainable-fashion-blog/2014/oct/01/cotton-production-linked-to-images-of-the-dried-up-aral-sea-basin
Mcllhatton, J. (2020). Top 5 manufacturing certifications in the textile industry, in Synzenbe, https://www.synzenbe.com/blog/the-top-5-manufacturing-certifications-in-the-textiles-industry-1008/1008
Mehhta, A. (2018). From cellulose technology to take-back schemes, fashion is trying to bend the curve on its make-wear-discard business model. https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/fashion-industry-cottons-circular-economy
Meisenzahl, M. (2021). At least 11 US and European brands are under fire and facing boycotts in China for criticizing alleged forced labour cotton practices in Xinjiang. Business Insider India.
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Patel, T. (2019). Where’s Your Cotton From 5 Ways to Check If It’s Khadi, Handloom or Mill-Produced.https://www.thebetterindia.com/190879/lifestyle-cotton-khadi-handloom-difference-tests-eco-friendly-fabric-india/
Speranskaya O., Caterbow, A. (2018). The Sustainability of Fashion: what role can consumers play? HEJSupport.
Taylor W.. (2013). Cotton’s Dirty Little Secret. Newspaper Greenerideal. https://greenerideal.com/news/environment/0925-problem-cotton/
The sustainable angle. (2019). A spotlight on moral fibres: reviving traditional khadi organic cotton. The Sustainable angle. https://thesustainableangle.org/a-spotlight-on-moral-fibres-reviving-traditional-khadi-organic-cotton/
Vikram, K. (2020). Why khadi is one of the most sustainable fabrics to consider right now. The Vogue.
What is eco-labelling? https://www.ecolabel.org.ua/en/what-is-ecolabelling
Quick Guide to organic cotton. Textile Exchange. https://textileexchange.org/quick-guide-to-organic-cotton/