Cotton and Human Rights abuses in China
Cotton has never-ending controversies.... I’ve been digging deep over the last few months into cotton learning about it’s history, where it comes from, how its grown, how to use it in a non industrial, traditional manner and the deeper I dig, the darker the room becomes.... omg so much hidden in the shadows. So much green washing and very little regulation.
In Mexico for example, there is not an official system in place to regulating organic cotton. So essentially anyone can say anything about what is bring grown. There is not a system for many reasons, corruption being a primary one.
Indigenous histories, cultures and peoples dependent on this almost decimated native crop which has existed for at least 7,000 years, have been abused for centuries and only recently has this native cotton found a revival in interest and slowly being recognized once again for what it is... a glorious magical native fiber. the indigenous peoples of Mexico need access to this heritage like the native corn revival, the native cotton is on par with cultural heritage and importance. This NEEDS to become important to people now. I’m only at the tip of the spindle (haha) but I’m completely fascinated by this lovely fiber and determined to learn more, dig deeper and help of course where I can.
I think if everyone making things (crafters, artisans, designers, companies) with natural fibers, took a moment to follow their own production chains to the source, seed or animal what would you find? Would you find abuse or respect?
The textile revolution is here, slavery and human rights abuses are being exposed on a daily basis. Migrant workers and slaves are making the worlds clothing. Amazon, The Gap, Adidas, Calvin Klein, IKEA, Costco, Patagonia (!!) Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and many more recognized brands make products with forced labor in China apparently and it all comes down to cotton.
Designers and producers have a large responsibility and need to inform themselves, we also have to be held accountable and 100% transparent on where and how things are made, who is making them, down to the fiber (!!!) so consumers can then make educated informed purchases.
I’ve learned that cotton does not need to be mono cropped to be bountiful, nor does it needs pesticides if it is traditionally planted amongst friendly companions plants such as corn. It does not require tons of water to grow (a huge misconception in the industry btw) And if respectfully grown with the collaboration of rural in need communities, as Khadi is doing the resulting fiber creates many jobs which can help with ending the need for migration to the cities or USA within these communities. Spinning is also a large part of this.
Consumers need to buy less of and better quality, longer lasting products and buy things within their local community by local makers and producers. Producers need to produce less, longer lasting better quality AND ethically made products.
Images from The Guardian and