Sustainable cotton

This year we reached our goal of using 100% sustainable cotton in our products by 2020.

Cotton is a great natural resource but conventional cotton production has serious environmental and social consequences. The cotton industry is responsible for 24% of the world’s insecticide use and 11% of pesticides. At the same time, it takes on average 10,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cotton, or between 2,600 and 2,700 litres of water to produce a cotton t-shirt.

The social effects beyond this are acute. The Aral Sea in Central Asia was once the world's fourth-largest lake. Heavy use of the lake for cotton irrigation caused it to dry up completely, releasing toxic chemicals from its bed into the air (43 million tons of pesticide-laden dust is blown into the air every year). The region around the Aral Sea has the highest rates of throat cancer in the world.

For the last five years, we’ve been working to transition our entire range to sustainable cotton. This year, we hit 99%, and from September 2019, all new products will be made exclusively with sustainable cotton.

Make the switch to sustainable cotton

We source a mix of organic, Fair Trade, recycled cotton and cotton sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) to make up our sustainable cotton mix.


Sustainable cotton breakdown Sustainable cotton breakdown


Better Cotton Initiative: a better way

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) makes up the largest part of this portfolio. BCI is a global initiative that aims to find more sustainable solutions for farmers, for the environment and for the future of the sector.

Kathmandu is one of the top 10 Better Cotton retailers when measured as a percentage of total cotton consumption.

The BCI program began implementation in 2010. By the 2015/6 season, it had reached 1.5 million cotton farmers across 23 countries in five continents. Better Cotton was grown on 3.4 million hectares of land, accounting for 12% of global production.

BCI’s results show that in the 2015/16 season, BCI farmers in India used an average of 9% less pesticides whilst achieving 20% higher yields than those not using BCI techniques. These results really are better — better for farmers, better for the environment.


Helping to move farming forward 

Kathmandu became the first Australasian member of the Better Cotton Initiative in March 2015. BCI has been an important part of our plan to have 100% sustainable cotton by 2020, and makes up the largest chunk of our sustainable cotton portfolio. The BCI exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. They aim to do that by making Better Cotton a mainstream commodity. 

Last year, more than 1 million metric tonnes of Better Cotton went into the world’s supply chains. Better Cotton was grown by 2.2 million farmers in 21 countries and made up 19% of global cotton production. 

What does this mean for you?

Those who are looking to buy from Kathmandu can be assured that they are helping move global farming away from water-intense and unsustainable practices. In 2019, Kathmandu became a Certified B Corp, which means customers can trust that we meet the highest standards of verified positive social and environmental impact. Our work to incorporate 100% sustainable cotton into all of our related products has been a large part in achieving this certification. 

Our sustainable cotton journey Our sustainable cotton journey

8 Item(s)