Climate emergency: It’s time to cotton on to organic fashion

Soil Association and Hubbub partner to create impactful water installation at Westfield London

We are in a climate emergency and our thirst for fashion is a big contributorwhich is why Hubbub and Soil Association Certification are urging fashionistas to go organic.

On 3rd and 4th October at Westfield London, environmental campaign group Hubbub and Soil Association Certification, the UK’s largest organic certifier, will open a 3.5-metre-high installation to show shoppers how much water organic cotton saves versus non-organic cotton.

Cotton is a notoriously thirsty crop. In fact, growing cotton accounts for 69% of the water footprint of textile fibre production; just one kilogram of cotton takes as much as 10,000-20,000 litres of water to produce.

The World Economic Forum has identified water scarcity as one of the top ten global risks to society over the next ten years, yet the majority of cotton is grown in countries that are already facing severe water stress.  But there is hope. Growing cotton organically uses significantly less water than conventional cotton – up to 91% less (Textile Exchange 2014).

Organic cotton works with rather than against nature. By using natural techniques, good soil management and seed varieties that are drought resistant, and by growing in areas more suited to cotton farming that are rain-fed, rather than irrigated, organic farmers are saving precious water.

And it isn’t just in the field that organic cotton is saving water. The dyeing and finishing of non-organic textiles can require as much as 200 tonnes of water for every tonne of textiles producedAround 20% of all global water pollution results from the dyeing and finishing of textiles 

Fabrics carrying the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) logo have been made using low-impact dyes and inks in factories where waste water is properly treated before being released. As a result, organic cotton does not pollute water ways. And when you wash it, micro plastics don’t end up in the ocean (which happens when you wash synthetic clothes). 

The story of organic cotton doesn’t stop at water. Textiles carrying the Soil Association or the GOTS logo have been made in factories that have met strict social and environmental criteria. This means that working conditions are safe, and workers’ rights are protected.  

Choosing organic clothing can have a positive impact on people and the planet.  Visit the installation at Westfield London on the 3rd and 4th October and find out how much water growing organic cotton saves as well as the other huge environmental benefits organic cotton brings and follow the tips below for simple actions everyone can all take. 

Clare McDermott, Business Development Director, Soil Association Certification said: “We’re in a climate emergency and awareness of the damaging impact of the fashion industry has never been higher. People want more sustainable clothing options and retailers need to step up and play their part by making options like organic more available in store.

“Our activation at Westfield London is a light-hearted way of doing something serious. Hopefully we can engage shoppers with the benefits of choosing organic and show retailers that there is a real demand for clothing options that reduce the impact of the fashion industry as the organic textiles market continues to grow.” 

Sarah Divall from Hubbub said: “The call for a more sustainable fashion industry has never been louder and encouraging people to make easy switches when they do buy something new, like to organic cotton, can make a real difference. Hubbub is committed to making the fashion industry better for the planet and making it easier for shoppers to make the right choices. This installation is a great way to show brands and customers at Westfield what they can do to make their stores and wardrobes more sustainable.”

Myf Ryan, CMO Europe and Group Director of Brand and Strategic Marketing for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said: “We are delighted to welcome Soil Association and Hubbub as partners to launch their campaign to educate and champion organic cotton. Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield continues to positively shape a sustainable positioning and working strategically with expert partners to deliver experiences that can make a difference, and be front of mind for the high-volume of visitors we see at the centres every day.” 

Act now! Together we can make the world of difference 

  • Change the way you shop: Look for organic cotton when clothes shopping, if you need something new. Look for the Global Organic Textile Standard and Organic Content Standard logo on the label. Shop from Soil Association certified organic brands and discover other brands and retailers stocking organic on the Good On You website or app
  • Ask your favourite brands to go organic: Want your favourite brands to stock more organic cotton? Tweet a message (use link that the SA is using) and tag in your favourite labels, asking them to stock more #OrganicForThePlanet @SoilAssociation
  • Share: 39% of people* say they care about the environment, but it’s never occurred to them that their clothes might have an impact. Help us spread the word to your friends – share @SoilAssociation’s social media posts using the hashtag # OrganicForThePlanet
  • Stock it: Are you a brand or retailer? Find out why organic textiles are good for business here