Cotton is commonplace in our daily lives. It is used in many products, from dollar bills to bed sheets and, clearly, clothing. Although we deal with cotton every day, there are many misconceptions about this beloved raw material and things many people still need to learn. Here is everything you need to know about cotton.
The environmental impact of cotton starts from the seed choice
The environmental impact of cotton cultivation depends on where and how the plant is grown, starting with the choice of seed, which has a considerable influence. There are three types of cotton seeds today: conventional, GMO, and hybrid.
At Candiani Denim, we believe that hybrid seeds offer the best solution. They can maximize specific, positive traits at both field and fiber levels, and they do not need to be genetically modified. They can, hence, be grown with organic and non-organic techniques alike.
Cotton does not necessarily require much water to be grown
There is a common belief that cotton is a thirsty crop, but it is not true. According to Cotton Inc., cotton consumes around 3% of all water used in agriculture, is drought resistant, and can thrive with water stress.
Cotton water requirements and impacts, especially regarding wasted water, depend on many factors, such as farming practices, cotton variety, water origin, irrigation technology, growing region, and soil health.
Cotton does not consume too many pesticides
Cotton is also supposed to consume a lot of agricultural pesticides, but the cited figures are often outdated or incomplete. There are many regional differences, even though their use has steadily declined after a peak in the ‘80s. Progressive farmers have also adopted techniques to encourage beneficial insects.
Moreover, it is essential to remember that not all pesticides are actually harmful. Some of them can, for instance, be used as bio protectors or can stimulate plants to produce their defenses.
Industrial agriculture destroys biodiversity
Clearly, there is still much room for improvement. In 2021, almost 69% of cotton was grown using industrial agricultural methods. Industrial agriculture has caused biodiversity loss and deforestation. It kills important pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, destroys the soil, and pollutes wastewater.
We know that we need to grow crops according to nature and not against it, and that is why, during the last years, the demand for organic cotton and other preferred fibers has increased. According to Textile Exchange, in 2021, this type of fibers made up 25% of the cotton market.
Regenerative agriculture may surpass organic
Although its popularity has sharply grown in the last 15 years, organic cotton represents less than 1% of the preferred cotton market. The problems are linked to practical issues, such as the three-year transition period and the complex requirements to comply with organic standards.
That is why, at Candiani Denim, we believe that regenerative cotton will surpass organic and will be widely adopted by farmers. Moreover, there is evidence that regenerative agriculture can reduce pollution, improve soil health, protect biodiversity, and be a potential solution to climate change. Finally, it is farmer-friendly since it reduces costs and produces healthier crops.