In a move that it says will help increase the supply of sustainable cotton, Wrangler has joined a group called Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. The group is another multi-stakeholder initiative that is working to increase supply chain sustainability around natural resources. Wrangler will coordinate with Field to Market, the Soil Health Institute, and several other industry and academic partners to focus on cotton-growing practices that will improve profitability for growers while reducing environmental impacts, the company says.
Wrangler is the first major apparel brand to join the initiative, and follows the brand’s launch last month of a pilot project for sustainable US cotton. The project involves the Newby family – seventh-generation farmers from Athens, Alabama – who will work with Wrangler and advisors from the Soil Health Institute (SHI) to improve cotton yield, irrigation, energy inputs, greenhouse gas emissions and soil conservation. Forty thousand pounds of the Newby’s cotton will be used to make a special collection of Wrangler denim jeans that will be sold in 2018.
The company says it buys about 50% of its cotton from US growers.
Other industry groups working in sustainable apparel and fashion include:
–The Circular Fibres Initiative: this group will attempt to create a new system for textiles based on the principles of a circular economy while phasing out waste and pollution. Clothing retailers H&M and Nike, philanthropic funder the C&A Foundation, and a consortium of organizations including the Danish Fashion Institute, Fashion for Good, Cradle to Cradle and MISTRA Future Fashion are part of the group.
–Cotton 2040: Also funded by the C&A Foundation, this initiative brings together international brands and retailers, existing industry initiatives and other stakeholders across the supply chain to
Fibers are an important part of today’s global economy, according to the Circular Fibres Initiative: clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years, with sales of footwear and apparel reaching $1.67 trillion in 2016. Meanwhile consumers keep their clothing for half the time that they did 15 years ago. After use, only around 15% of apparel waste is collected in the US, while the remaining 85% ends up in landfill. This linear economy puts high demand on land, energy and other resources. The production and use of clothing accounts for around 3% of global CO2 emissions, and cotton production is now responsible for a quarter of worldwide insecticide use.
Other industries are pulling together groups to focus on sustainable supply chains and to help farmers improve crop yields and profitability, as well. Last month, for example, Procter & Gamble, Cargill and BASF announced they are working together to create a sustainable supply chain of coconut oil in the Philippines and Indonesia. The initiative includes working with the smallholder farmers to teach them better agricultural practices, intercropping and enhanced farm management skills, and the strengthening of farmer groups. The main goal of the development partnership is to increase their incomes and economic self-sufficiency by improving the productivity of their farms.