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Solidaridad Network: Top brands failing on cotton sustainability

June 06, 2016

Author: editor

Category: Learn

The Solidaridad Network released a new report yesterday (June 7th) ranking brands for their sustainability practices with cotton. The results are disappointing.

Cotton Ranking: Detailed Results (courtesy of Solidaridad Network)

Cotton Ranking: Detailed Results (courtesy of Solidaridad Network)

On a scale of 19.5 possible points, IKEA scored the best at 12.00. C&A scored a 9.0, as did H&M. Adidas followed with a 7.75, while Nike (6.75), M&S (5.5), VF Corporation (3.25), and Kering (3) round out those that scored at all. Another 29 companies, including Macy’s, Walmart, the GAP, Dillard’s, J.C. Penney, Nordstrom, and TJX, appear to employ no sustainable cotton practices.

The research and scoring was performed by Rank a Brand, which assessed three areas: policy, sourcing and use, and traceability. Most points were available for sourcing and use with companies assessed according to volumes used from Better Cotton, Cotton made in Africa, Organic, and Fairtrade – the four standards judged to be sustainable for the purposes of the report.

While the results are disappointing, we here at The Human Thread think that this report is important work that can change the way cotton is sourced. When we reached out to Isabelle Roger, senior manager of Solidaridad’s cotton program, she said:

“It’s clear that just a few leading companies are doing the heavy lifting on sourcing sustainable cotton. For the cotton sector as a whole to become sustainable, all other major companies will need to get on board and we hope that next year we will be able to report better scores.”

Letting brands know that the consumer is paying attention will help nudge them to making necessary changes in cotton sourcing. It also puts in practice the words of Pope Francis in Laudato Si’:

A change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products. They prove successful in changing the way businesses operate, forcing them to consider their environmental footprint and their patterns of production. When social pressure affects their earnings, businesses clearly have to find ways to produce differently. This shows us the great need for a sense of social responsibility on the part of consumers. “Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act”. Today, in a word, “the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our lifestyle”.[#206]

As consumers, like it or not, we vote with our dollars. Every purchase has moral consequences. Make sure that retailers know that you, as a consumer care, about the conditions in the fields where the cotton was grown and within the factory where the garment was made.

Solidaridad Network’s summary of the report is found here: The full report can be found here:

Commentary about the report also can be found in the Huffington Post and the Toronto Sun.