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Fairtrade cotton five times less damaging than conventional

The social and environmental costs of Fairtrade cotton are five times lower than conventionally produced cotton, new research from the Fairtrade Foundation has shown.

The research examined the environmental and social impacts of cotton production on rural households in India, which is one of the world’s largest producers of cotton. The findings showed that Fairtrade farming methods had a 97% lower negative impact on social factors and 31% lower impact on environmental components.

Key social benefits included fair wages and investment in local schools. Factors such as income levels and child labour practices were examined as part of the research.

For environmental impact, the research examined land use, water pollutants, water use, emissions and soil pollutants. It found that Fairtrade cotton performed better than conventional cotton across all factors except land use, as the yield for organic practices for cotton per acre is lower than conventional.

Subindu Garkhel, cotton manager at the Fairtrade Foundation, said: “Cotton is an integral part of our lives. Not only that, but cotton also provides livelihoods for millions across the globe. But there is a strong cost for people and planet with cultivating the cotton that goes into our clothes, and our study shows that is markedly higher for conventional cotton farming.”

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