According to a study by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, in the global materials flow of clothing in 2015, 89% of the virgin feedstock are polyester and cotton (or some blend between the two). When the majority of the world’s textiles production is concentrated in 1 or 2 materials, an imbalance in our environmental footprint occurs.
To put things into perspective, producing plastic-based fibers such as polyester for textiles uses ~342 million barrels of oil every year while the annual production of cotton is estimated to require 200,000 tonnes of pesticides and 8 million tonnes of fertilizers.
While organic cotton is certainly a better step forward, our view is that shifting to organic cotton alone is not enough to address the problem of textiles sustainability. As written by Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia in his book "The Responsible Company", a Patagonia polo shirt made of organic cotton from an irrigated field requires 2700 liters of water. Each polo shirt, from the cotton field to their warehouse, generates nearly 21 pounds of carbon dioxide.