Recycled cotton is manufactured from waste or leftover fabrics, converting the fabric into a cotton fiber. Use of recycled cotton reduces the use of virgin cotton and thus significantly water, CO2 and other impacts of cotton farming.
Cotton is one of the most commonly used fabrics in the garment industry but also one of the most unecological. Cotton is very pesticide-intensive crop and these pesticides contaminate soils and pollute rivers and groundwaters. Growing cotton also requires a large amount of water. This causes soil salinization, especially in dry areas.
Cotton production also contributes to climate change. Fertilizers are produced using considerable quantities of finite energy sources (1.5% of the world’s annual energy consumption), releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, the excessive application of nitrates to agricultural land leads to their being transformed into nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), a greenhouse gas, that is 300 times more destructive than CO2 in terms of global warming.
Conventional cotton production has also social and economic risks, especially for small farmers in developing countries. Pesticides are toxic and harmful also for the farmers and their families. The excessive use of harmful chemicals causes soil degradation which reduces its nutrient and water retention capacity. As consequence farmers need to invest more to find new yields.
These are just a few reasons why organic or recycled cotton is a more sustainable choice.