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Sustainability of Cotton: 5 Common Myths Debunked

Cotton Incorporated, the not-for-profit research and promotion organization for the cotton industry, is committed to cotton sustainability—from farm to finished product—through science-based research. The experts at Cotton Incorporated are here to clear up the myths about cotton sustainability:

MYTH: Cotton is a major contributor to the fashion waste crisis.

False! Cotton is a renewable, natural resource. Synthetic garments can shed microplastics into our water supply when washed and don’t break down as rapidly as natural fibers. Cotton sheds cellulosic microfibers that break down in water and on land. How do these fibers break down over time?

MYTH: Cotton is a “thirsty crop,” requiring excessive amounts of water for production.

False! Cotton is an inherently heat and drought tolerant crop. In fact, it takes more water to grow an acre of lawn grass than an acre of cotton, according to the Life Cycle Assessment of Cotton Fiber & Fabric.

MYTH: Cotton is one of the “dirtiest” crops in the world.

False! Over the last 35 years, the commitment of industry organizations like Cotton Incorporated help achieve dramatic reductions in land use, soil loss, water use, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. That doesn’t even touch on what the industry hopes to achieve in the next 10 years – learn more here.

MYTH: Cotton uses land that could be used for growing food.

False! Cotton crops provide food as well as fiber and is regulated as a food crop in the United States. A recent study showed that cottonseed oil can keep individuals feeling fuller longer than olive oil and can reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides, while increasing good cholesterol.

MYTH: The cotton industry doesn’t contribute to a sustainable supply chain.

False! From innovation and education, Cotton Incorporated is helping growers use less pesticides and water while developing resources like the Life Cycle Inventories and Life Cycle Assessments that help manufacturers make more sustainable choices. For consumers, the organization fashioned a way to reduce clothing in landfills through Cotton Incorporated’s Blue Jeans Go Green™ national denim recycling program.

To learn more about the common misconceptions of cotton, please view Cotton Incorporated’s “Everything You’ve Heard About Cotton is Wrong.”