More sustainable cotton: GOTS or BCI?

What outfit are you wearing today? The chances are that much of it is made from cotton. Because cotton is the most important natural fibre in the world: half of all the fibres used in our clothes come from the cotton plant. Annually, around 25 million kilograms of cotton are produced in 85 countries. And that provides 250 million people with their livelihoods. Huge figures! However, there is a very large ‘but’. Cotton cultivation and production have a large impact on the planet, and working conditions are often tough. That’s why we’ve opted for sustainable cotton.

A large impact on the environment

About 25 million kilograms of cotton are produced each year. That’s a huge number! By its very scale, cotton has a large environmental impact. But there’s more. The cultivation process itself is also very damaging to the environment.

  • Water: 1 kilogram of cotton requires 20,000 litres of water. And that can have serious consequences for the environment. Just think of the drying up of the Aral Sea.
  • Pesticides: cotton cultivation is the largest user of pesticides in the world. That has a huge impact on the environment and climate, but also on the people who work in the cotton fields.
Dried up Aral Sea with boats
Since the 1960s, the Aral Sea has turned into a salt desert and a few saltwater lakes. The main reason for this is the intensive cotton cultivation in the region, which needs a huge amount of irrigation.

In addition, cotton is mainly grown and processed in low-income countries, often in poor working conditions. That’s why we have chosen to make increasing use of more sustainable cotton in our own brand products. This can be organic cotton, but also Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) cotton.

The ambition for Boni Selection and Dreambee

By 2021, we want to source 66% of our cotton sustainably (organic cotton and BCI cotton). That applies to all Dreambee cotton products and a number of Boni Selection organic products. We want to give you the opportunity to buy cotton responsibly. So at Colruyt, you’ll always find an organic alternative for cotton socks and underwear.

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Organic cotton and the GOTS label

GOTS stands for the ‘Global Organic Textile Standard’, and is a certificate for more sustainable and organically produced cotton.

  • No chemical pesticides, but natural pesticides based on leaves or fruit
  • Crop rotation, which keeps the soil fertile and reduces its water demand
  • No GMO seeds
  • No harmful chemicals in the textile factories
  • Safe working conditions for the workers
cotton blossom
Cotton can also be sustainably cultivated with respect for people and the environment. The GOTS label is proof of this.

And that produces an impressive result compared with ‘traditional’ cotton cultivation:

  • Up to 46% less impact on global warming
  • Up to 70% less soil acidification
  • Up to 26% less soil erosion
  • Up to 91% less water consumption
  • Up to 62% less energy consumption

If you buy organic cotton from us, it will always carry the strict GOTS label. Just look at Dreambee’s white bodies.

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BCI: more sustainable cotton

We are also a member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). This is an organisation which wants to tackle cotton production worldwide and transform it into a more sustainable process. It focuses on three main areas: economy, ecology and society. Above all, the BCI wants to make a difference where it’s really needed, with cotton farmers themselves. And in several different ways.

  • Strict criteria for pesticide use
  • Special attention when dealing with water, soil and the natural habitat
  • Improvement of working conditions
  • Training programmes for farmers
  • Regular on-the-spot checks
  • Increased farmers’ productivity
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Better Cotton Initiative
Above all, the Better Cotton Initiative wants to make a difference for the cotton farmers themselves, but it also has strict environmental criteria for textile factories.

With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Responsible consumption & production Climate action Life on land