The way much cotton is produced harmful to farmers and their communities as well as the environment on many levels. There are a wealth of statistics out there, but here are a few key ones.
- It takes around 2,000 litres of water to produce a t-shirt. This has led desertification in many areas, most notably around the fast disappearing Arral Sea.
- Depending on the statistics viewed, cotton accounts for 10-25% of global pesticide use, and around 25% of global insecticide use.
- A third of all cotton is produced in Uzbekistan where slavery is a major issue. Every year in Uzbekistan, the government forces children as young as 9 out of their schools and into cotton fields.
There is currently a lot of work being done to remedy some of these issues by Anti-Slavery and the Ethical Justice Foundation amongst others. You can also sign a petition to Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, which calls for a removal preferential trade tariffs.
If you do nothing else, please watch these two videos and consider buying fairtrade or organic cotton next time you need new pants.