With brands like Edun and Lemlem turning to sub-Saharan Africa as a focal point of production, the continent’s on the rise within the confines of the Western fashion industry. And the designers bringing their manufacturing to the region are on to something else — it turns out cotton produced on the continent has a way better ecological footprint than the textile produced elsewhere.
The independent German consultancy Systain found that cotton grown in Africa ultimately emits 70% less carbon and uses 18,000 fewer liters of water per kilogram of the fabric than when it’s grown in Pakistan. Meanwhile, Africa’s climate is generally ideal for production because of its warmth and the alternate timing of rainy and dry seasons. And, because the plant is almost always grown by small farmers using rain-fed cultivation methods (and no added irrigation), African-grown cotton is more efficient than pretty much anywhere else on earth.
Looks like Bono (who runs Edun with his wife, Ali Hewson) is on to something beyond good press. Check out the organization Cotton Made In Africa, which seeks to expand the region’s production while benefiting the lives of small farmers, to learn more.