As sustainability these days is almost considered as a licence to play across organisations and businesses, we wanted to share a few insights we have collected over the years making physical marketing production. In the upcoming months, with our new ‘Sustainability Sessions’ series, we want to share these insights from the material, sustainability and possible greenwashing perspective. Helping you and your organisation to make more sustainable choices.
Today we start these Sustainability Sessions with cotton, as it is one of the most common materials for companies merchandise. Whilst the fashion industry tide is turning slowly but steadily, and new materials appear to the market day and night, it’s time for other companies to follow suit. To focus on quality, long-lasting materials.
With cotton, available types can be categorized many ways but if you cut some corners you could say that rough-split could be made between the following: a) conventional cotton, b) organic cotton c) recycled cotton.
Bizarrely, it can take more than 2700 liters of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt.
Let’s review the conventional cotton first. We recommend staying away from this traditional cotton material. Cotton is mainly grown in dry surroundings so therefore the problem with conventional cotton is that it requires a LOT of water to grow and is grown with harmful pesticides and fertilizers creating a negative environmental impact on the soil and waters. And according to studies it can take over 2700L to make just one t-shirt…
Organic cotton on the other hand, however, is grown free from pesticides, fertilizers and genetically modified seeds (GMO’s). Even though organically grown cotton also requires water to grow, basically it helps to keep soil and water uncontaminated.
Our third category, recycled cotton, is made out of pre- or post-consumer cotton waste so it is naturally least heavy on the soil and waters. Recycled cotton fibre comes to production ”dead” so it always needs a blend. When we want to create clothes, like t-shirts, made out of 100% recycled materials, the most common choice is to make it with a recycled polyester blend. The challenge with recycled cotton lies in recyclability whereas 100% of cotton t-shirts can be recycled the fact that the recycled cotton needs a blend makes it impossible to recycle continuously.
As the headline of the story already might have implied there are repercussions with our choices. Earthwatch institute debate lifted bees as the most important living beings on the planet. And bees are coming increasingly under threat of extinction due to over-population and agricultural policies but our actions can help them. One thing considerably contributing their ill-being is the harmful pesticides used in growing crops.
Going for organic cotton over conventional one might just contribute positively to these honey-producing little stingers.
When comes down to the actual designing of unique merchandise there is more than one way of making unique, cotton clothing from sustainable materials. New materials are arriving for companies to choose from at an attractive cost level but while the materials and market are still developing an easy start for organisations, its marketers and buyers could be to switch the company’s cotton t-shirts, hoodies and sweaters to organic ones.
Recently, we’ve teamed up with Stanley/Stella to provide a huge range of responsibly produced organic or recycled products. Check out their site for more info and let’s start building your company selection. There’s also a lot of options for the upcoming colder months!
Enjoy your autumn and bee happy!