Everything You Need to Know About Better Cotton

June 19, 2018

You’ve seen the headlines about climate change, water shortages and the our continually shifting landscape. With climate change taking a bigger and bigger toll on our planet, we’re at the crucial stage of asking ourselves what we can do to use fewer resources and reduce waste. After all, when it comes to waste and using natural resources, we have to admit it: the fashion industry is one of the biggest culprits.


Sometimes it’s hard to think how one person can have an impact on such a huge industry, but it’s possible. Start small by supporting brands that source Better Cotton. Haven’t heard of it? Here’s what you need to know.



What is the Better Cotton Initiative?

If you missed our last post, here’s a quick refresher. The Better Cotton Initiative takes a holistic approach to improving the way cotton is grown. It helps keep farmers informed on conditions that respect the rights of workers. It also trains farmers to use water efficiently; to care for the health of the soil and natural habitats; and to reduce the use of the most harmful chemicals when growing cotton plants. Using these techniques, farmers can reduce their inputs and increase their yields, leading to improved livelihoods and less environmental harm.


What are the areas that the Better Cotton Initiative focuses on?

There are seven key areas the Better Cotton Initiative focuses on through farmer training:

– Minimizing the harmful impact of crop protection practices

– Promoting responsible water use and conservation

– Caring for the health of the soil

– Enhancing biodiversity and using land responsibly

– Caring for and preserving fiber quality of crops

– Promoting better working conditions

– Operating a management system that helps farmers keep track of progress and set the foundation for continuous improvements over time


How does growing Better Cotton help farmers?

According to researchers, around 90% of the world’s 100 million cotton farmers raise the crop on fewer than five acres of land. Because these farmers work on relatively small operations, market shifts and climate flux make their livelihoods vulnerable.


Teaching farmers more responsible, sustainable techniques help them grow the best crops possible while using fewer resources. This can lead to more revenue, which helps the farmers improve their quality of life, grow their businesses, put their children through school or simply put food on the table.

Where are the farmers who grow Better Cotton? And how many are there?

As of the end of 2017, 1.6 million farmers were trained across 23 countries. The Better Cotton Initiative functions on every continent where cotton is grown. Some of the largest cotton-producing countries include China, India, Pakistan and Brazil.


Can I buy a product that’s 100% Better Cotton?

The Better Cotton Initiative works as a mass balance system, where Better Cotton and conventional cotton are mixed. Why does the Better Cotton Initiative do this? It’s less complicated than physical traceability and is therefore less expensive, making it easier to scale. The goal is for Better Cotton to become a larger percentage of global cotton.


Levi Strauss & Co. has committed to sourcing 100% more sustainable cotton by 2020. What does this mean?

Cotton is key to our products. Although our main focus is sourcing more Better Cotton, we also support organic cotton and recycled options, and we’re constantly looking at other ways to use recycled materials and renewable energy sources.

Want to learn more about our initiatives to help people and the planet? Check out our sustainability page.