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Organic Textiles Get a Boost in New Textile Exchange, Organic Trade Deal

Textile Exchange (TE) and the Organic Trade Association (OTA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in hopes of bolstering the North American organic textile industry’s public policy influence and PR efforts.

The agreement was signed in conjunction with the recent formation of OTA’s Fiber Council and outlines plans to work together on legislative advocacy, public outreach and consumer education initiatives.

According to OTA’s 2015 Organic Industry Survey, U.S. organic fiber sales were the fastest-growing non-food sector, reaching $1.1 billion in 2014, up 18 percent from the previous year. The leading organic fiber is cotton. In 2014, U.S. growers planted organic cotton on 18,234 acres—the largest number of U.S. acres devoted to organic cotton since 1995. According to Textile Exchange’s 2014 Organic Market Report, global sales of organic cotton products reached an estimated $15.7 billion in 2014, up 10 percent from 2013.

“This is just the beginning of an exciting collaboration that will propel the organic fiber sector to the next level. People want to make organic a bigger part of their lifestyle, but they are often unaware of all the ways that organic fiber can contribute to human and planetary wellness, as well as social justice,” Marci Zaroff, founder of Under the Canopy and a Textile Exchange Board member, said.

A major goal of this new partnership will be to boost outreach to North American consumers on the benefits of organic fiber and textiles, particularly the environmental and social benefits of growing and processing.

Much of the current demand for organic cotton currently comes from manufacturers and brands. With authenticity and transparency as key goals, brands are working to position themselves to be responsible stewards—becoming more sustainable in their supply chains and more relevant in their core messaging.