To make your jeans and tees, Gap use cotton—a lot of cotton. We love the fact that that it’s a soft, natural, and breathable fabric. However, cotton production can also have an environmental impact, on both the planet and the people that produce it. For example, did you know that it takes approximately 20,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg of cotton, which works out as enough for one high quality pair of jeans and a T-shirt? Or that 2.4 percent of the world’s arable land in countries such as India, the United States, Pakistan and China is dedicated to cotton farming?
When you consider that cotton farming also accounts for 24 percent and 11 percent of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides respectively, you can see that’s a relatively high percentage for the amount of land used to grow the crop
These are all good reasons why Gap are working to use more sustainable cotton. One method is the Better Cotton Initiative, which Gap is a partner with. The Better Cotton Initiative works with farmers to reduce both water and pesticide use, thereby supporting workers’ livelihoods.
One way to achieve this is through the use of organic cotton, which can help eliminate the use of harmful pesticides, promote healthy soil and biodiversity, and is grown from seeds which haven’t been genetically modified.
Another environmentally friendly move is upcycling. This year alone, by upcycling plastics into poly fabrics, Gap will be able to reclaim divert 25 million bottles from landfills. We’ve all recently become far more aware of the damaging impact of plastics on wildlife and the environment, but may not be so aware of the positive properties of upcycling. Upcycled fabrics today have the same comfort, breathability, and performance as natural fibres, and feel just as luxurious.
Another environmentally friendly alternative to cotton is Modal, which is a plant-based eco fabric made from cellulose, harvested from sustainable birch forests, with a low environmental impact. Not only is it gentle on the planet, being produced in a closed-loop system where 99 percent of the chemicals used in the process are recovered and recycled, but it’s soft and light on you too, as well as being breathable, resistant to wrinkles and requiring to be washed less.
But, since actions speak louder than words, here are the facts. Gap have managed to source 116 million lbs of Better Cotton since autumn 2016, and have committed to using 100% sustainable cotton by 2021. They recycled 25 million plastic bottles recycled last year alone.
You can’t argue with that, can you?