Despite being a natural material, cotton—one of the most significant raw materials used in the production of textiles—seems to have a high environmental impact due to its usage of pesticides, fertilizers, and water.
Fiber production, which is 113 million tons per year, is expected to increase by 30% by 2030. This number can be represented visually as 14.3 kilograms per person per year. By volume, cotton comes in second among these fibers.
Let's look at some cotton growing statistics. Cotton cultivation takes place on just 2% of agricultural land. This region is equivalent to 33 million hectares in 64 nations. Around the world, an average production of 600-800 kg is accomplished on an area of 1 hectare.
Cotton, the second most widely used fiber after synthetic fibers, accounts for nearly 22% of total fibers, at 25 million tons in 2021. The transparency and traceability of 75% of this cotton obtained from conventional methods that we know are mostly unknown raw materials. 24% are those labeled more responsible and whose production and logistics can be tracked with various certificates. The recyclable amount of all cotton fibers as raw material does not exceed 1% as for all other fibers.
It should replace conventional cotton with alternatives from organic, recycled, and regenerative agriculture. In this way, the story of cotton can be made more sustainable in agriculture, production, distribution, consumption, and thereafter. To achieve such change, you can check out Textile Exchange's 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge. This commitment, signed today by 127 companies, aims to ensure that all cotton used is 100% sustainable by 2025.