Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) is the latest to join the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA), a multi-stakeholder organization that brings security of supply and measurable social and environmental impact to growing organic cotton. Organic cotton is in high demand for its regenerative properties without chemicals which would be better for the environment and workers.
By joining the OCA as a contributor, LS&Co. will help increase the global supply of organic cotton, which only accounted for 1% of global production in the 2019-2020 crop year. And with its massive reach, the historic denim brand’s participation will help the program empower organic cotton farmers. OCA reached more than 12,000 farmers through its agricultural program from 2019 to 2020, during which 2% of participating farmers earned on average 2% more net income from their cotton than conventional farmers.
“We are proud to join the OCA because for the first time we will be able to source directly from organic cotton growers and work with others to identify scalable solutions for the industry,” said Jeffrey Hogue, LS&Co. director of sustainable development. “OCA is unique in that it unites the global organic cotton sector. It enables measurable improvements in the livelihoods of farmers and local communities, creating the conditions for change. This partnership reinforces our strategy of sourcing more sustainable cotton for our products and provides new opportunities to address the challenge facing our industry.
The participation of LS&Co. brings the brand closer to its more responsible fiber sourcing goals. In a sustainability report released in September, the company pledged to achieve 100% more sustainable cotton by the end of 2025.
OCA is gaining momentum in denim, as Pakistan-based denim manufacturer Soorty recently signed on as a contributor, in addition to bolstering its own organic cotton initiative, Soorty Organic Cotton Initiative (SOCI), one of first private sector projects set up. to facilitate the transition to a more ecologically and socially responsible cotton agronomy.
Earlier this month, the OCA launched Textile in Transition, a multi-year project aiming for transparency and fairness in the organic cotton sector. The project attracted partner brands Bestseller, G-Star Raw and Essenza Home. Funded by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency Fund for Responsible Business, it builds on the agricultural program established by the OCA in India to help participating companies achieve transparency while improving farmers’ livelihoods, workers’ rights and the environmental impact.
More and more farmers are also getting involved in growing organic cotton through the OCA. In March, the program reported a 350% increase in the number of farmers participating in its agricultural program during the 2020-21 season compared to the previous year.