Cotton is in our clothes, our bedsheets, our towels, our books, our coffee filters — even in our paper currency. Right now, you're probably wearing at least two items made of cotton.
Doris and Don Fisher opened the first Gap store in 1969 with a simple idea: to make it easier to find a pair of jeans. Gap Inc.'s denim offerings, past and present, are largely crafted from cotton. So are the shirts, dresses and other cotton-based staples currently available across Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy. Sixty percent of the fabric Gap Inc. uses is cotton.
This year, Gap Inc. joined the Better Cotton Initiative, which works with farmers around the world to improve cotton production for the people who produce it, the environment, and the cotton sector's future. Some of that work involves minimizing the use and impact of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, and caring for water, soil and natural habitats.
In the first half of 2016, Gap Inc. sourced 441,000 pounds of Better Cotton — enough to make 250,000 pairs of jeans — and plans to continue to increase sourcing of Better Cotton in the future.
While Gap Inc. has used organic cotton for many years in some products, with Better Cotton, Gap Inc. has the opportunity to make a strong impact on the global cotton industry, and help ensure more widespread access to a responsible sourcing option for cotton.
Water scarcity continues to be a global issue. As farmers adopt the Better Cotton growing standard, they learn techniques that use less water, more efficiently. Based on 2013 figures, Better Cotton farmers used 14-23 percent less water than those farmers not using BCI principles. Meanwhile, profits were 14-44 percent higher. In addition to better yields, Better Cotton farmers are reported to have greater financial security through access to global markets.
For generations, cotton has been a standard fiber for clothing — whether on its own or in fabric blends — because of its versatility and ability to breathe. In everyday terms: It's easy to wash and care for; and it keeps its shape and doesn't cling to the body. Cotton is also hypoallergenic, so it doesn't irritate sensitive skin or fuel allergies.
Visit gapinc.com/sustainability to see how Gap Inc. is striving to ensure that the process of making our clothes is safe for people and communities, and how the company is working directly with women to help them gain access to clean, safe water.