What exactly is the difference between organic and conventional cotton
- and does this difference really matter?
Producing conventional cotton requires large amounts of water, fertiliser and pesticides, and can have a negative impact on both the environment and those who pick the cotton. Cotton is grown on only 2.5% of the world’s farming land, but accounts for an entire 25% of the global use of pesticides and insecticides. It also takes around 2300 litres of water to produce a single T-shirt made of conventional cotton.
Organic farming means that no chemical pesticides or fertilisers are used, but there is no clear standard in Norway for organic textiles. Different operators use different labelling schemes and a garment can be called organic without having to clarify what is meant by this term, and even if only small percentages of the material composition are derived from organic farming practices. This can be confusing and, at worst, misleading, which is why we have decided to undergo the GOTS certification process. GOTS stands for Global Organic Textile Standard and is an internationally recognised labelling scheme for organic textiles.
GOTS does more than just certify organic textile fibres. We have chosen to work with GOTS because they impose requirements on all parties in the production process, not just those who produce the raw materials. For a garment to be GOTS-certified, the entire production process must be approved, from organic raw material production to the finished product. All suppliers and subsuppliers must be certified and, in addition to environmental requirements, every party in the chain must enforce the social standards that protect farmers and workers. Pierre Robert has its own license number that verifies certification and is shown on all products made of organic cotton. The license number can be searched on the GOTS website.
For a garment to be GOTS-certified, the entire production process must be approved, from organic raw material production to the finished product. All suppliers and subsuppliers must be certified and, in addition to environmental requirements, every party in the chain must enforce the social standards that protect farmers and workers.
The GOTS label guarantees that:
- At least 70% of the material composition consists of organic fibres. Pierre Robert garments use 92%.
- The cotton is grown without any chemical fertilisers or pesticides
- The cotton is not genetically modified
- The soil is protected through crop rotation
- Water consumption is reduced by up to 90 % compared to conventional cotton
- Wastewater treatment and disposal are subject to strict requirements
- Dyes and other chemicals are subject to strict toxicity limits
- Social standards to protect farmers and workers are enforced
- All production stages have been assessed by a neutral 3rd party and certified in conformity with the GOTS standard
- The garment is traceable down to every step in the process
Instead of switching to GOTS-certified suppliers, the Pierre Robert Group has decided to make a difference with the suppliers it already uses. We work closely with our suppliers, with a focus on long-term relationships. This provides predictability for both parties and gives us more room for manoeuvre when it comes to improving working conditions at the factories. As part of our partnership with GOTS, we have scrutinised the entire value chain for cotton underwear for women and urged all parties to obtain certification.