New Doc from Nat Geo, C&A Highlights Business Case for Organic Cotton Production


Cotton is planted on 2.4 percent of the world’s crop land and yet it accounts for 24 percent and 11 percent of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides, respectively. Organic cotton represents less than 1 percent of the global total annual crop, but National Geographic, international clothing brand C&A, and activist and filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau believe that needs to change.

A new 60-minute documentary, “For the Love of Fashion,” emphasizes “the need for a paradigm shift in the cotton value chain.” Cousteau, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and a recognized leader on water issues, travels to India, the United States and Germany to help viewers understand the global need for more organic cotton. In the film, she meets local cotton farmers in Madhya Pradesh, India whose lives have “improved considerably” after changing from conventional to sustainable methods of production, and interviews industry leaders in the U.S. and Germany, including sustainability experts from C&A.

Cousteau spoke passionately about the issue at a screening event in Berlin: “Approximately half of all clothes manufactured globally are created with cotton, but conventional cotton farming risks harming our planet irreparably.” Through her own talent for storytelling, she is continuing the work of her renowned grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau and father Philippe Cousteau.

“We are excited to support a documentary that provides a window into more sustainable cotton practices. Ultimately, we would like to inspire brands and consumers that more sustainable cotton has significant advantages for people and the planet,” said Jeffrey Hogue, Chief Sustainability Officer at C&A.

“European Fashion Consumers need to understand that their choice matters in order to support a sustainable development in cotton growing countries,” Hogue added.

C&A has previously collaborated with organizations such as CanopyStyle and Ashoka on initiatives to improve its supply chain, and the company asserts that there are substantial economic and environmental benefits of using organic cotton. In 2012, C&A claims it became the world’s largest retailer of organic cotton garments, selling 85 million pieces representing 30 percent of its cotton revenue. In 2013, the latter figure reached 38 percent.

It is worth noting that companies have sustainable sourcing options other than organic; for example, as of late last year, IKEA exclusively sources according to the Better Cotton Standard.

For the Love of Fashion will premiere on the National Geographic Channel beginning later this month in various European countries, Mexico, Brazil, and China. Airing times for the United States, United Kingdom and Canada have yet to be announced. You can check listings for local airing times by market at natgeotv.com.