The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a project aimed at defining a more sustainable way to grow cotton, expanded its reach to include the U.S. during 2014, and the results thus far have been positive.
BCI has been working in other cotton growing regions of the world since 2010 to promote measurable and continuing improvements for the environment, farming communities, and their economies. Last year, spurred by strong interest from major brands and retailers using Better Cotton as a supply benchmark, BCI opted to expand its focus in the U.S.
Twenty-two farms in four states (Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, California) took part in the pilot project and produced a combined 26 million pounds of cotton lint. Each farm completed a self-assessment and hosted a third party on-farm visit to verify they met BCI’s criteria for environmental stewardship and working conditions. All participants who completed the process are now licensed to sell Better Cotton to participating merchants.
Cannon Michael, owner of Bowles Farming Company in California’s San Joaquin Valley, said, “We take pride in the way we treat our employees, care for the environment and strive to improve. I think this opportunity to ‘prove up’ against independent standards and verification is good for us and our customers.”
BCI CEO Patrick Laine said, “This is an extremely positive start, and we look forward to working with more USA farmers on continually improving practices that are directly relevant to their businesses.”
H&M, VF Corp, Woolworths, Adidas and Nike have all signed on to support the BCI mission to make the global cotton sector more sustainable.
Laine added, “We’re delighted with the collaboration and efforts of cotton growers in the US to bring US Better Cotton to the supply chain. This responds to a request of many global brands. The first volumes of US Better Cotton to reach the market were purchased immediately – and we intend to satisfy that demand in coming years by expanding the supply of US Better Cotton.”