Waste as a new source

Why do we choose certified Global Recycled Standard (GRS) cotton for our caftans?

Cotton is one of the world’s most commonly used fibers throughout history. This natural material is durable, lightweight, and breathable, making it an absolute wardrobe staple. As they say, cotton is the fabric of our lives.

However, growing cotton has significant environmental and human impacts, particularly on farmers. The WWF’s Cleaner, Greener Cotton Report released in 2013 showed that although cotton is grown on only 2.5% of global cropland, its cultivation accounts for 8-10% of global pesticide use. These chemical inputs pollute local ecosystems and diminish sources for clean drinking water. Farmers who work in the cotton fields and families living near them are at high risk for health defects and serious health concerns as a result of constant exposure to toxic pesticides. 

The cotton industry is known for it’s poor labor conditions, having been exposed for instances of child labor and forced labor in major cotton-producing countries including Uzbekistan, China, and India. As one of the top three genetically modified crops in the world, GMO cotton has been linked to the financial strain causing mass farmer suicides in India. These are just a few of the factors that make cotton production a contentious issue that perpetuates poverty, health, and environmental problems for so many.

Cotton is also an especially thirsty crop, and according to the World Resources Institute, more than half of global cotton production takes place in areas where there is high water-stress. The WWF report in 2013 found that growing and processing cotton requires an estimated 378 billion liters of water per year, or about 8,500 liters of water to make one pair of jeans.

In a world where around 2 billion people are living in water-stressed areas, it is more important than ever for the fashion industry to choose ethical means of production that do not contribute to the growing global water crisis. By using recycled cotton, we reduce the demand for newly-grown fiber and drastically reduce our waste, water and energy consumption. 

According to Made-By, recycled cotton receives an “A” rating for sustainability, making it more environmentally friendly than both conventional and organic cotton. But not all recycled fabrics are created equal. We chose to work with GRS certified cotton because it comes with international standards and third-party verification to ensure that it is actually made from pre and post-consumer waste through social and environmentally friendly practices, without the use of known toxic chemicals. 

Recycled cotton is one of our circular economy solutions to the toxic, extractive, and unjust practices of the fashion industry, but designing with circularity in mind should include not just materials but also how a product will be made, used, and ultimately disposed of, returning any waste to nature easily and safely.

A critical part of the fashion circular economy is using natural resources, whether raw materials or those that power production, in a way that enables them to be restored and regenerated rather than depleted and causing pollution. 

You can learn more about Global Recycled Standard certified cotton on their website 

Find out more about indigenous natural dyeing and printing techniques like block printing.

Learn about How to care and compost your Caftan once it's reached the end here