Journey of Sustainability
Cotton’s sustainability journey is a series of steps designed to meet the needs of the present customers without compromising the ability of future farming generations to meet their own needs. The U.S. cotton industry continues to take these steps year in and year out. U.S. cotton farmers are families who own their land and would like to preserve it for future generations. These farmers have the highest rate of adoption for Precision Agriculture, and other innovative technologies, in the world. They are continually adopting best management practices. Farmers fund research projects that will help develop new farming practices. They also have expanded their use of resource efficiency tools. It’s no surprise that U.S. cotton farmers produce the most sustainable cotton in the world and will continue to take these steps toward continuous improvement well into the future.
In 2013, the U.S. cotton industry heard a message from the Textile Manufacturers and the Brands and Retailers about their willingness to join in the sustainability journey. To facilitate the first steps, Cotton LEADS was formed as a partnership between the cotton industries of Australia and the United States. Cotton LEADS was the first U.S. program to promote the cotton farmers’ journey of sustainability. This program conveys the farmers’ commitment to sustainability, the recognition of improving farming practices, the understanding of a national sustainable program, the belief in working cooperatively to advance preferred cotton, and the confidence in traceable cotton identification systems. The program’s goal is to connect businesses across the global supply chain with the leading efforts in sustainable cotton production.
By 2017, the U.S. cotton industry learned that some of the textile supply chain would like additional information to tell their sustainability story. In response, the cotton leadership created a Sustainability Task Force to research solutions.. This Task Force represented the seven segments of the U.S. cotton industry from producer to textile manufacturer. Its main purpose is to build on past efforts by focusing on continuous improvement, verifying success and formalizing the process into the US Cotton Trust Protocol, a specific program that oversees and validates these steps.. The Task Force set national goals for key environmental metrics: soil carbon, land use, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, soil loss per acre, water use, and energy use. By 2025, they would like to see these goals of achievement.