EJF campaigns to reduce the human and environmental costs of the fashion industry and cotton production, exposing human rights abuses, pesticide misuse, water-shortages and calling for supply chain transparency. Our campaigning began almost two decades ago, when our undercover investigations exposed state-sponsored forced child labour in Uzbekistan. The media attention and public concern that arose from our film and report, White Gold: the True Cost of Cotton, resulted in immediate improvements to international supply chains and retailer policies.
The clothing industry is one of the greatest polluters on the planet, responsible for around 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion means we now produce and throw away more clothes than ever before. In Europe, each individual buys, on average, nearly 15 kg of clothing every year. Worldwide, 87% of discarded textiles are landfilled or incinerated and less than 1% are made into new garments.
Synthetic materials dominate textile production, with these non-biodegradable fibres being produced from around 342 million barrels of oil per year and responsible for up to 35% of microplastics found in marine environments. Organic cotton can be a sustainable alternative, but the vast majority of cotton is farmed intensively using harmful pesticides and massive quantities of freshwater. Expensive inputs, including genetically modified seeds, keep farmers in the Global South in poverty. Child labour and poverty wages add to the misery of ‘conventional cotton’ production in many of the world’s producer nations.
EJF is committed to promoting organic cotton as an environmentally and socially sustainable material, building awareness around the perils of fast fashion and working with partners across the globe to support the transition to a fairer, greener future.