Cotton is our most commonly used fibre in our garments. It is a fibre that is natural, renewable and biodegradable, but cotton cultivation requires a lot of water. One of our goals is that we want to be water efficient throughout our value chain, reduce the risk of water scarcity in areas linked to our operations, and together with partners create access to water and sanitation in factories and nearby communities.
Cotton comes from the cotton plant that thrives in warm climates. To grow, the cotton plant needs a lot of sun and water and therefore artificial irrigation is often required. Thus, large amounts of water are used mainly during cultivation, but also in the dyeing and preparation of the textiles. It is estimated that a normal t-shirt needs about 2,500 litres of water and a pair of jeans between 6 - 10,000 litres depending on where the cultivation takes place. It is a problem that cotton cultivation is in countries that lack clean water, so even though the cotton plants get the water they need, the people living there may not.
In order to grow properly, artificial fertilizers are often used for the cotton plant and because it is easily affected by pests, the cotton crops are sprayed with pesticides. Unfortunately, these measures lead to the extinction of species and the depletion of the soil. When the soil's ability to store carbon dioxide deteriorates, it also has major consequences for the climate. In addition, several of the chemicals used are toxic to humans and contaminate the surrounding environment and water.
The description above is about the cultivation of conventional cotton. There are alternatives, such as organic cotton cultivation, that are much better for humans and the environment than conventional cultivated cotton. But even better to save on important natural resources such as water is to choose garments made from recycled materials.
Instead of growing new cotton, we can save a lot of natural resources by reusing the cotton that has already been produced. Recycled cotton is leftovers from production or used textiles that have regained their life by being torn apart, spun and knitted or woven into new material. Unfortunately, the availability of recycled cotton is low and the recycled cotton has a shorter fibre length than newly produced cotton, so today it is necessary to mix the recycled cotton with other cotton to get garments that become durable and last longer. We use recycled cotton in many different types of garments and especially in our denim assortment.
All recycled cotton we buy is certified according to Textile Exchange Global Recycling Standard or Textile Exchange Recycled Claim Standard.
Organic cotton is grown without artificial fertilizers, chemical pesticides or genetically modified cotton seeds. In addition, it is third party certified and kept separate all the way from cotton fields to finished product. Unlike conventional cultivated cotton, the soil is not depleted in organic cotton cultivation, which improves the soil and it can then store more carbon dioxide which in turn is good for the climate. Organic cultivation also promotes biodiversity and contributes to healthy ecosystems. The health of cotton farmers and their families improves when, unlike conventional cotton cultivation, they are not exposed to toxic chemicals. The non-genetically modified cotton seeds are more expensive to buy and it requires large investments for the farmers to convert agriculture to organic (read more about this under BCI cotton). Therefore, only a small part of all cotton production in the world, in fact only about 1 per cent, is organic.
A GOTS certified garment is made from organic cotton and the GOTS certification starts after the organic cotton is grown up until it becomes a garment. GOTS certifies all the steps after the cotton has been produced and includes both social and environmental requirements for example; the spinning of yarn, weaving of fabrics, treatments, dyeing and printing.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2005, which Lindex has been a part of since the start. It is a very important initiative that works to drive large-scale change in the cotton industry by helping cotton farmers to transform their agriculture from conventional farming to growing more sustainably. They help farmers to use more environmentally friendly, but also socially and economically sustainable, cultivation methods. For example, it is about reducing the use of water, pesticides and moving from artificial to natural fertilisers.