Ikea Produces More Sustainable Cotton Through Better Cotton Practices
August 16, 2012
Because cotton is one of Ikea’s most important raw materials, producing, sourcing, manufacturing and selling it sustainably is vitally important to the company.
As a result, the home furnishing retailer said it is committed to working towards better cotton growing methods, and has become one of the founding members of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a global multi-stakeholder organization with the aim to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the future.
The Better Cotton Initiative began in 2005 with 20 weeks of field schooling for 450 cotton farmers. Today the project involves more than 100,000 farmers in India, Pakistan, China and Turkey. These farmers all utilize better cotton sustainable practices including the reduction of water, fertilizer and chemicals, while increasing profit margins. Additionally, there are field experiments to complement classroom training for farmers who want to learn how to pass their knowledge on to other farmers in their villages. This includes information about how to reduce chemicals and train farmers on how to reduce pesticides and use pheromone traps to reduce insects. Providing ‘old world’ knowledge about compost and manure, while reducing the need for costly artificial fertilizers and reducing water consumption, is also part of the farmers’ education.
Improving child rights in cotton growing areas is another core component to the Better Cotton program. Through the Ikea Foundation, which funds UNICEF and Save the Children programs in cotton growing areas of India and Pakistan, child labor is reduced to zero. The aim is to create child-friendly communities by getting children into school and helping them to stay in school. These programs are expected to reach approximately10 million children.
As a result of more sustainable cotton cultivation, 50 percent less pesticides and 30 percent less chemical fertilizers are used, as well as 50 percent less water between 2005 and 2012.
Twenty-eight percent of all cotton used in Ikea products today “is sustainable,” the company said, noting the goal is to have cotton production sustainable by 2015.
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