Way Ahead of Schedule

With the pandemic slowing down many sustainability-related timelines, the Textile Exchange’s second annual progress report for “The 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge” provides some welcomed good news.

Upon invitation of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, NGOs and representatives from the world’s largest clothing and textile companies convened in London in May 2017. On the agenda was addressing the harsh social and environmental impacts of global cotton production, such as rampant use of water, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers as well as poor living and working conditions of its farmers.

Here, the 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge was born, whereby thirteen signatories pledged to transition to 100 percent sustainably-sourced cotton by 2025.

Outdoor leading the way

The purpose of the challenge is to increase the use of organic and preferred cotton, creating economies of scale to the point where sustainable cotton becomes mainstream. In order to qualify as “sustainable cotton,” the fiber must be controlled by at least one of a list of approved initiatives and standards. These ensure that the fiber meets a formal sustainability criteria, has a robust chain of custody system in place and the fiber has been objectively tested to confirm its greater sustainability attributes, among others.

Since its launch, the SCC has grown to include 40 signatories including such juggernauts as Levis, Adidas, H&M and Lindex, and the second annual progress report results are promising: Of the 40 signatories, 80% are at least half-way to meeting the target and 27.5% have met 75-99% share.

With five years to go, a further 27.5% had already achieved the goal at the time of the report – including several familiar outdoor brands such as 10 Tree, Kathmandu and Prana.

About the Challenge

While the 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge began as part of the International Sustainability Unit (ISU), an initiative spearheaded by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, the Challenge’s secretariat has since been transferred to the Textile Exchange.

There are no costs and no need to become a Textile Exchange member in order to join the initiative. All results are reported in aggregate form, unless individual brands wish to share their own progress to inspire others.

Interested? To join or for more information, visit: https://textileexchange.org/2025-sustainable-cotton-challenge/ or contact: Cotton2025@TextileExchange.org


Photo: Nancy Yang, Unsplash


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