Sustainable Shopping Post Pandemic

After COVID-19, brands and retailers seeking the data to prove their sustainability progress

Post-pandemic life may find the apparel industry at a crossroads. Sustainability is top-of-mind for consumers and it’s not enough for brands and retailers to simply set stewardship goals. The data has to be there to prove it. That’s where the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, the standard for more sustainable cotton comes in.

According to a recent U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol survey, 61% of brands and retailers believe that the since pandemic began there has been increased consumer demand for sustainable products. As companies work towards delivering more sustainable options to meet this growing consumer demand, findings also show 65% of respondents agree that data is important to their future sustainability goals.

“Sustainability and transparency are becoming increasingly more important in the fashion industry,” said Dr. Gary Adams, president of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. “Consumers are calling for reduction in companies’ environmental footprint and the Trust Protocol will provide the data that enables brands and retailers to measure against their sustainability commitments.”

Research also found that 63% of brands and retailers stated that the pandemic has had a positive impact on their proactive investment in sustainability with 42% putting the focus on sourcing sustainably produced raw materials. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol underpins and verifies U.S. cotton’s sustainability progress through sophisticated data collection and independent third-party verification, enabling brands and retailers around the world to more confidently source U.S. cotton.

Over the past 35 years, U.S. cotton growers have put real work into the sustainability of their operations and the results show. In that time, they have used 79% less water and 54% less energy, reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 40%, all while reducing land use by 42%. Conservation growing practices have further improved soil health, reducing loss and erosion by 37% and increasing soil carbon levels.

Building on decades of progress, roughly 2/3rds of U.S. cotton growers now employ some type of precision technology for in-field measurements and automation to continuously improve their sustainability. That is why the Trust Protocol is committed to six areas of sustainability in line with the U.N. Sustainability Development Goals including water use, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, soil carbon and land-use efficiency. By signing up for the Trust Protocol, members will gain access to U.S. cotton with sustainability credentials proven via Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, measured via the Fieldprint Calculator and verified with Control Union Certifications.

With these commitments, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol has welcomed over 300 brand, retailer, mill and manufacturer members including Gap Inc. and its purpose-led lifestyle brands Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta as well as UK retailers Next Plc. and Byford. The Trust Protocol is included on the Textile Exchange’s list of 36 preferred fibers and materials that more than 170 participating brands and retailers can select from as part of Textile Exchange’s Material Change Index program. It is also part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Forum for the Future Cotton 2040, and the CottonUp guide.

As more people get vaccinated across the world, consumers are beginning to think about the ‘new normal’, with 50% of brands and retailers expecting to see an increase in customer spending on sustainable apparel over the next 12 months. In a period of ever-greater supply chain scrutiny and growing demand for transparency, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol sets a new standard for more sustainably grown cotton.

Source: Textile World, June 3 2021.

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