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Nike, Wal-Mart, Top U.S. Users of Organic Cotton

Global retail sales of organic cotton apparel and home textile products grew 35 percent in 2009, reaching an estimated $4.3 billion from $3.2 billion in 2008, according to a report from Organic Exchange (OE).

The report finds that continued growth in the global organic cotton market is driven largely by consumer interest in “green” products, significant expansion of existing organic cotton programs by brands and retailers, and the launch of organic cotton programs by new players in the market.

The report, “Organic Cotton Market Report 2009,” finds that despite a recession there is little change from the 40 percent average annual growth rate the organic cotton market has experienced from 2001 to 2009. It also shows significant growth when compared to the overall global apparel and household textiles market, which decreased almost 7 percent from 2008.

Other findings show that more companies became certified to traceability standards such as the OE Blended or OE 100 standard, which helps users track their actual use of organic fiber from the field to the finished product.

Many manufacturers also became certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which addresses textile’s processing stages and includes strong labor provisions.

OE forecasts the global organic cotton market will grow 20 to 40 percent in both 2010 and 2011, reaching about $5.1 billion market in 2010 and $6.0 billion market in 2011.

Organic cotton production in 2008/09 grew 20 percent over 2007/08 from 145,872 metric tons (MT) to 175,113 MT (802,599 bales) and was grown on 625,000 acres (253,000 hectares) in 22 countries.

The top twelve brand and retail consumers of organic cotton are:

–C&A (Belgium)

–Nike, Inc. (Oregon)

Wal-Mart (Arkansas)

–Williams-Sonoma (California, recorded last year as Pottery Barn),

–H&M (Sweden)

–Anvil Knitwear (New York)

–Coop (Switzerland)

Greensource Organic Clothing (Washington)

Levi Strauss (California)

–Target (Minnesota)

–adidas (Germany)

–Nordstrom (Washington)

Here’s a chart that shows the top consumers of organic cotton from 2005 to 2009.

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7 thoughts on “Nike, Wal-Mart, Top U.S. Users of Organic Cotton

  1. Great for those retailers selecting organic cotton. Your article would be much more informative if it discussed the methods for processing organically grown cotton – are the processing methods “green” or do the methods use non-lethal chemicals?

  2. cKinetics has just released a report ‘Exporting Textiles: March to Sustainability 2010’, which charts supply chain sustainability initiatives and plans by major textile brands and retailers

    Progressive brands and retailers are now considering roll-out through their global supply chains.

    The report profiles 19 such global firms including Adidas, Gap Inc., H&M, Ikea, Levi Strauss & Co, Marks & Spencer, Nike, Otto, Carrefour, Walmart, Continental Clothing, Phillips-Van Heusen, Timberland Company, Inditex, Primark, John Lewis Partnership, Lindex and Tesco.

    The report makes the case that the coming decade is going to be about sustainability and optimally using natural resources to generate value in the textile supply chain.

    You can access the report here: http://ckinetics.com/sustainability2010.htm

  3. Organic cotton sounds great until you actually look into it. They have to use manure or composted manure which have a huge carbon footprint because of methane emissions. They use “flame weeders” instead of herbicides which means burning a huge amount of propane. They have lower yields which means less land for food crops to grow the same amount of cotton. There is really no good reason to grow/buy Organic cotton.

  4. And, when processing the organic cotton into products we use, don’t processors still use bleach and other harmful chemicals?

  5. Composting of both kitchen scraps and animal manures is known to reduce the amount of methane emitted to the atmosphere.

    “By properly composting their kitchen waste, rather than having it transported to a landfill site, individuals can ensure that, as the waste decomposes, it forms carbon dioxide, rather than methane, and so has less of a greenhouse gas impact. (www.ghgonline.org).”

    Compost provides an excellent environment for the methanotrophic bacteria that oxidize methane. Under test site conditions, compost covers have been found to reduce methane emissions by as much as 100 percent.” “Cover up with Compost,” EPA.

  6. Methinks that Steve Savage may be a Monsanto man, eh Steve? Organic cotton has many benefits over GM cotton, which exudes a toxin 24/7 into the environment for up to 8 months of the plant’s life, and beyond through the decomposing waste on and in the soil.As for the processing of organic cotton, here is an example of one process used “Some of the fabric is put through a hydrogen peroxide bleaching process to whiten it. Up until this point neither the cotton fiber, yarn, or fabric has come into contact with any chemicals. A number of chemicals are used in the various steps of finishing, only chemicals that are approved by certifying organizations, both in the US and Europe are used.” Which has a much smaller footprint than conventional cotton fabric production. As for the use of manure, as Chilli has explained, well produced compost can be almost methane free, as compared to the chemicals used to combat weeds, secondary pests and the additional chemical boosters such as manmade fertilisers.And that is before we look at the impact of GM cotton on stock/ humans via the plant(pollen) and as food…GM cotton having been recorded as impacting negatively on both in both events.

  7. Janet,
    I have not done any consulting for Monsanto for many years, but wouldn’t hesitate to do so. You say that GM cotton “exudes toxin 24/7” but fail to mention that it is the same, caterpillar-specific toxin that has been sprayed on organic crops for over 50 years. You say the cotton is treated with hydrogen peroxide but say it has not come into contact with any chemicals. Everything is made of chemicals. Cotton is composed of chemicals. Organic crops are sprayed with chemicals.
    “Well produced compost” is low in methane (2-3% of carbon converted to methane), but because huge amounts (5-8 tons/acre) are needed, the emissions are problematic. I have no idea what you could be talking about with the pollen effecting stock/humans. Unless you have an allergy to cotton pollen – which would be true of non-gmo cotton as well.

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