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5 Cotton Labels to Look Out for When Buying Sustainable Fashion

5 Cotton Labels to Look Out for When Buying Sustainable Fashion
Organic cotton provides a sustainable, planet-friendly alternative to conventional cotton, and there’s no shortage of designs and labels.

Here are 5 cotton labels to look for when buying cotton apparel. Be sure to check out our list of 100%Cotton certified fashion products and 100%Organic Cotton Certified fashion products.


COTTON USA™ is a standard created by family growers who are committed to producing sustainable and fully grown cotton. Their growers own their own land and want to protect their fields for future generations.

Because of these priorities, COTTON USA™ famers have one of the highest rates of adoption in the world for Precision Agriculture, which encourages less water and pesticide usage. And in 2020, COTTON USA™ introduced The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®, setting a new standard for more sustainably grown cotton.

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® sets a new standard for sustainably grown cotton. It brings quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to sustainable cotton production and drives continuous improvement in six key sustainability metrics. The Trust Protocol is overseen by a multi-stakeholder Board of Directors comprised of representatives from brands and retailers, civil society and independent sustainability experts as well as the cotton-growing industry, including growers, ginners, merchants, wholesalers and cooperatives, mills and cottonseed handlers.

Brands and retailers who participate in the standard will gain access to U.S. cotton backed by year over year data to help them demonstrate their environmental credentials. Standing behind COTTON USA™ is Cotton Council International (CCI), a non-profit trade association that promotes U.S. cotton to mills, manufacturers, brands and retailers around the world.

With a 100% tested product, and high standards of sustainability and transparency, COTTON USA™ bills itself as “the cotton the world trusts.” Be sure to check out Cotton USA certified brands and The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® Fashion Products.

2). Cotton Made in Africa

Cotton Made in Africa is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation, and one of the world’s leading standards for sustainably produced cotton. Cotton Made in Africa’s goal is to help people help themselves through trade rather than through donations, in order to improve the living and working conditions of smallholder farmers in Africa and to protect the environment.

Cotton Made in Africa works with a wide-ranging network in cotton-growing countries, including numerous partners throughout the textile value chain as well as both governmental and non-governmental organisations, to ensure the implementation of the standard and the proper processing of certified raw materials throughout the world.

3). Better Cotton Initiative

The Better Cotton Initiative – BCI is primarily focused on the following standards:

1. To demonstrate the inherent benefits of Better Cotton production, particularly the financial profitability for farmers

2. To reduce the impact of water and pesticide use on human and environmental health

3. To improve soil health and biodiversity

4. To promote Decent Work for farming communities and cotton farm workers

5. To facilitate global knowledge exchange on more sustainable cotton production

6. To increase the traceability along the cotton supply chain.

Producers must meet the Minimum Production Criteria, the initial core requirements, to receive a license to produce Better Cotton.

Minimum Production Criteria (MPC) are the starting point in a cycle of continuous improvement required by BCI. Once MPC are met, producers have to address Progress Requirements.

BCI aims to transform cotton production worldwide by developing Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity.

4). Fairtrade Cotton

Fairtrade Cotton was launched to put the spotlight on these farmers who are often left invisible, neglected and poor at the end of a long and complex cotton supply chain.

Through tools like the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium and stronger, more democratic organizations, Fairtrade has sought to provide these farmers with an alternative route to trade and higher, more stable incomes.

The Fairtrade Cotton Briefing provides a detailed overview of the cotton industry and its challenges, and explores why Fairtrade is needed and what it can achieve.

Fairtrade helps businesses to source Fairtrade Cotton thus providing traceability of where their cotton comes from and also transparency within their supply chains. Businesses can source Fairtrade cotton in two ways: the classic Fairtrade certified Cotton model and the Fairtrade Sourced Cotton (mass balance model).

Check out Fairtrade Cotton Fashion Products, including crop tops, men’s shirts, flared dresses, and more.

5). Cotton LEADSSM

Cotton LEADSSM is a program born out of partnership between the Australian and U.S. cotton industries. The goal: engage and connect businesses across the global supply chain with the leading efforts in sustainable cotton sourcing and production.

Cotton LEADS™ connects textile manufacturers, brands and retailers with opportunities to support participating cotton growers’ sustainability efforts and to share data, resources and technologies globally for the benefit of improving cotton around the world.

By supporting research and best practices through the Cotton LEADS™ program, companies help expand the global supply of sustainably produced cotton.

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