Why is cotton bad for the environment?

Discover the four reasons why cotton has a negative impact on the environment

Cotton is one of the most widely produced crops in the world and is used for a wide range of products; from clothing to paper products and furniture. Although cotton is a natural resource, its production can have a number of negative impacts on the environment.

What is cotton for raw material?

Cotton is a natural fiber that grows in the seeds of the cotton plant. This plant is an annual belonging to the cheeseweed family. The cotton plant can grow to a height of two meters and has large, dark green leaves. The flowers are white to pale pink and over time give way to cotton bolls, which develop into fibers. These fibers are used for clothing, linens, paper, paint and many other products. Cotton is one of the most widely produced natural fibers in the world.

Cotton is produced mainly in countries with warm climates. Countries where a lot of cotton is produced include:

  • China;
  • India;
  • Pakistan;
  • Brazil;
  • Burkina Faso;
  • Benin;
  • Uzbekistan.

Four reasons why cotton is bad for the environment

In response to the question "why is cotton bad for the environment?" we have formulated four reasons that show that production has a negative impact on people and the environment.

  • Large amount of water consumption;
  • Damaging chemicals;
  • Ecological footprint due to transportation;
  • Focused on mass production.

Large amount of water consumption

One of the biggest problems with cotton production is the amount of water needed. Cotton is a crop that requires a lot of water to grow. In areas with water shortages, cotton production can lead to water pollution and loss of natural water resources. In addition, cotton production is often concentrated in areas where water is scarce, putting local people at a disadvantage.

Damaging chemicals

In addition, many pesticides and fertilizers are used in cotton production. These chemicals can lead to contamination of ground and surface waters, as well as the death of beneficial insects and wildlife. In addition, pesticides can also have a dangerous impact on the health of the workers who work with them.

Ecological footprint due to transportation

Another environmental problem with cotton is the logistics of processing and selling it. Cotton often has to be transported long distances; from the farms where it is grown to the factories where it is processed, and then to the stores where it is sold. This leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions and a larger carbon footprint.

Focused on mass production

Much cotton production is focused on mass production and cheap prices. This can lead to unfair labor practices and exploitation of workers.


Impact of cotton production in figures

We like to make the environmental impact of cotton production more concrete and cite some key figures that indicate how much negative impact cotton production has:

  • Cotton is the most widely used raw material for clothing production. Cotton is grown on nearly 4% of farmland worldwide;
  • Growing cotton is very water intensive. It takes about 20,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton;
  • About 16% of global pesticides are used in cotton cultivation.

These figures show that cotton farming has a major negative impact on the environment, and that alternatives are urgently needed to reduce this impact. Consider sustainable alternatives, such as recycled and durable (work) clothes.

Sustainable clothing

The production of cotton thus proves to be very polluting for several reasons. Sustainable clothing, on the other hand, can have a positive impact on the environment. For example, by using more sustainable raw materials such as organic cotton, linen or Tencel. And the use of more sustainable production methods such as recycled materials and the application of energy-efficient technologies in production.

Wijngaarden VeiligGoed; supplier of sustainable industrial clothing

As a supplier of sustainable corporate clothing, we want to convince companies to choose sustainable corporate clothing. Because by choosing sustainable corporate clothing, a company can make a positive contribution to the environment. Without compromising on the quality and appearance of the clothing.

Our sustainable corporate apparel offering consists of a wide range of corporate apparel, including shirts, polos, coveralls and work shoes. Our garments are made from sustainable materials such as recycled cotton. This makes the production of these garments less environmentally harmful than regular workwear.

We think transparency is very important. Therefore, on this website we have described the production process for each manufacturer. Because we are in close contact and work well with these manufacturers, we can offer this transparency about the production processes and materials used.

In addition, we offer recycling and reuse programs. This allows corporate clothing to be disposed of or reused in an environmentally friendly way. See more on this at this page.

Our garments are not only environmentally friendly, but also high quality and comfortable to wear. By choosing our sustainable corporate apparel, your company is making a sustainable choice for the future of the environment while being able to maintain a professional appearance. We are happy to help companies make a sustainable choice for their corporate apparel.

This webshop is part of Wijngaarden VeiligGoed. Want to know more about us? If so, please refer to our corporate website.

Calculate the impact of your purchase

We occupy a prominent place in the chain as an intermediary. Want to know what you save per item or on your entire order? We are happy to calculate this for you using the following raw materials:

  • Cotton
  • Water
  • Oil
  • CO2
  • Pesticides

Need the impact of your purchase calculated? Then fill out the form at this page.