Pop-up water installation to bring organic cotton to London’s shoppers
A campaign to boost shopper understanding of organic cotton and the benefits it brings to the planet launches this October.
The campaign, run by Soil Association Certification in partnership with environmental charity Hubbub, will raise awareness of how organic cotton has a positive impact on people and the planet at a time when concern about the impact of the global fashion industry has never been higher.
To launch the campaign, a public installation at Westfield London, Shepherd’s Bush, on the 3rd and 4th October will inspire shoppers to help make a positive impact on the environment by choosing organic cotton when they shop.
The 3.5-metre-high installation will feature a giant water droplet of approximately 2,457 litres, representing the volume of water that is saved in growing the cotton for a single organic cotton t-shirt, compared to a non-organic cotton t-shirt. The water saved is enough for one person to drink eight glasses of water a day for three and a half years. Given conventionally grown cotton is in 40% of global textiles, and only 19% of cotton is currently classed as sustainable, the potential for change is dramatic.
New polling by Hubbub found that the average Brit wildly underestimates how much water is needed to grow cotton. The average estimate of 314 litres of water to grow enough cotton for a t-shirt is just 12% of the true figure of 2,700 litres.
By placing the water-themed installation in the heart of one of the busiest shopping centres in the UK, the campaigners hope to encourage shoppers to call on retailers to stock more organic in their ranges.
The Soil Association will also publish a policy report this month. Thirsty for fashion? How organic cotton delivers in a water-stressed world examines the ‘catastrophic and far-reaching’ impacts of growing and manufacturing non-organic cotton by drawing together years of research that shows the huge environmental, social and health benefits of organic cotton growing and processing.
Some of the stark differences between organic and non-organic cotton include:
- Growing cotton accounts for 69% of the water footprint of textile fibre production, where one kilogram of cotton takes as much as 10,000-20,000 litres of water to produce. In contrast, organic cotton reduces water consumption by as much as 91%
- Around 20% of all global water pollution results from the dyeing and finishing of textiles
- Cotton production uses 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land, but accounts for 16% of all insecticides sold globally
- It is estimated that non-organic cotton production requires 200,000 tonnes of pesticides and 8 million tonnes of synthetic fertilisers every year. If all farming was organic, research suggests that pesticide use would drop by 98%
Despite widespread concern about the climate impact of the global fashion industry - 88% of people want the fashion industry to be more sustainable - only 14% of the 3,000 surveyed ahead of the campaign regularly see organic available when clothes shopping, suggesting retailers are not doing enough to offer consumers sustainable options.
Clare McDermott, Business Development Director, Soil Association Certification said: “We’re in a climate emergency and awareness of the damaging impact of the fashion industry has never been higher. People want more sustainable clothing options and retailers need to step up and play their part by making options like organic more available in store.
“Our activation at Westfield London is a light-hearted way of doing something serious. Hopefully we can engage shoppers with the benefits of choosing organic and show retailers that there is a real demand for clothing options that reduce the impact of the fashion industry as the organic textiles market continues to grow.”
In April, the Textile Organic Market Report revealed that sales of Soil Association Certification organic textiles grew by 18% in 2018, with the market worth £41.3 million.
Sarah Divall from Hubbub said: “The call for a more sustainable fashion industry has never been louder and encouraging people to make easy switches when they do buy something new, like to organic cotton, can make a real difference. Hubbub is committed to making the fashion industry better for the planet and making it easier for shoppers to make the right choices. This installation is a great way to show brands and customers at Westfield what they can do to make their stores and wardrobes more sustainable.”
To seize the momentum around organic textiles, Soil Association Certification is hosting an event on 30th September with speakers from Arcadia group and attendees from across the industry.
More information on organic fashion is available on the Soil Association's organic fashion pages.
To download Thirsty for Fashion from 30 September visit: https://www.soilassociation.org/thirsty-for-fashion/