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L.L. Bean Latest to Join Cotton Leads Sustainability Program

L.L. Bean, the Freeport, Maine-based purveyor of outdoor gear and apparel, has confirmed its commitment to sourcing responsible cotton by joining the Cotton LEADS program.

L.L. Bean is the latest to join more than 470 program partners that acknowledge the ongoing sustainable gains by U.S. and Australian cotton growers, with Walmart and Hugo Boss becoming members in 2017.

“For over 105 years, we’ve helped folks enjoy the outdoors with thoughtfully made gear and apparel,” said Tom Armstrong, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer for L.L. Bean. “To us, that means being thoughtful about the outdoors, as well, which is why we partnered with the Cotton LEADS Program. They’re helping to ensure that the cotton we use is as responsibly produced as possible, with less water and fewer chemicals. Working with them is just one element of L.L. Bean’s overall and ongoing mission of sustainability.”

[Read more about sustainable cotton: Target Sets Goal of 100 Percent Sustainable Cotton by 2022]

In underscoring the program’s value, Mark Messura, senior vice president of global supply chain marketing at Cotton Incorporated, a Cotton LEADS program founding organization, said, “Our Cotton Leads partners recognize the investments in responsible production that Australian and U.S. growers are making, along with their commitment to supporting improvements in cotton globally. These efforts in continual improvement come from the cotton producers themselves and impose no downstream costs on the supply chain.”

Cotton LEADS is a partnership between the entire U.S. and Australian cotton industries to promote responsible cotton production practices. Some program aspects are that the growers invest in their own research and development, and share best practices within their industries and beyond.

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Cotton Leads partners, which include global manufacturers, brands and retailers, are committed to the principles of the program and encourage the use of sustainable and responsibly -grown cotton.

Ken Lanshe, vice president of general merchandise, technical, quality and sustainability at  Walmart, which became a member in November, said, “Cotton is a major ingredient in many of our apparel and home textile products. Through the Cotton LEADS program, Walmart hopes to learn from and collaborate on efforts that U.S. cotton farmers are taking to be responsible and sustainable producers. Our support for the Cotton Leads program aligns with Walmart’s goal to sell products that sustain the environment.”

When Hugo Boss joined the program in June, Heinz Zeller, head of sustainability and logistics, said, “Cotton is one of the most important raw materials for the high quality products of Hugo Boss. The Cotton LEADS program enables Hugo Boss to source sustainable cotton matching high quality standards with a guaranteed availability.”