Since it was founded in 1970 through to the present day, the programs of Cotton Incorporated help the cotton industry realize its commitment to sustainable practices.
“Sustainability” is a word that has been heard more and more in recent years, almost exclusively in the context of environmental improvement. While there is no universally accepted definition of environmental sustainability, most agree that sustainable practices are those that are economical or profitable and, at the same time, help to minimize impact on the environment. This is how we define it at Cotton Incorporated, and our commitment to this point of view began long before the word took its current meaning.
Almost since we opened our doors, Cotton Incorporated began pioneering sustainable practices for U.S. cotton growers, as well as for businesses that process or manufacture cotton textiles. Then, as now, a key objective for the company was to identify innovations that could make cotton more profitable. An obvious path to this goal is finding ways to reduce the amount of chemicals required to grow cotton and process textiles. The simple logic is that, by reducing inputs, we also reduce costs associated with them and, at the same time, help reduce strain on the environment. Over time, the company has helped cotton growers and businesses on the global cotton supply chain realize real efficiencies and real environmental gains, and our work continues.
As the concept of sustainability became an integrated and integral facet of modern business, Cotton Incorporated formalized its commitment to sustainability. We became an active voice in the global sustainability community, sharing our knowledge with fellow members in well-known and well-respected sustainability organizations and learning from them in turn. Today, we remain committed to constructive dialogues on how cotton and its related industries can continue to be responsible stewards of the land.This publication documents many of the environmental contributions Cotton Incorporated has made over the years. Perhaps the most visible of these is the first-ever, cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of cotton garments, an accomplishment that is currently aiding industry sourcing decisions, guiding our own research projects, and existing as a benchmark to measure ongoing gains for the global industry. The LCA is neither the first nor the last contribution the company will make toward the long-term sustainability of the cotton industry.
Cotton Incorporated is justly proud of the projects summarized on the following pages and how our research efforts and outreach have been catalysts for positive environmental change, but we are not resting on our laurels. We do not see ourselves as pioneers of progress in retrospect, but as present-day instigators and collaborators for positive change that will benefit future generations.
J. Berrye Worsham, President & CEO