Awesome cotton t-shirts start with awesome cotton farms
No Nasties! You know the name. You’ve seen the rainbow of gloriously coloured t-shirts, the eclectic mix of original designs, and if you’re really lucky you’ve felt the super-baby-bunny-bottom-soft fabric against your very own wonderful body. (And if not, why not?! You are hereby invited to check out what’s on offer and see what they hype is about!)
You will also know that No Nasties are proud to be completely fair trade and organic. This isn’t just lip service – we are hugely passionate about these issues. To kick this new blog of ours into full swing, we’d like to share with you a bit more background on the innovative organisations responsible for firstly growing the lovely cotton, and then whipping it up into the high-quality t-shirts we are so pleased to put our name to.
Today: how is our cotton grown?
Say hello to Chetna Organic. Chetna is a farmer-owned producer company, which markets and trades fair trade and organic certified cotton on behalf of its farmer members. Its mission is to “improve the livelihood options of smallholder farmers from rain-fed regions by supporting them to adopt sustainable agriculture and empowering them as informed stakeholders in ethical supply chains”. Throughout Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Western Odisha, more than 15000 small-scale and marginal tribal farmers are supported in adopting safer, more environmentally friendly and socially sustainable systems.
Did you know that the average rate at which farmers commit suicide in India is every 30 minutes? Did you know that 55% of all synthetic pesticides in India are used in cotton farming? Toxic chemicals that are banned in the West are still sold in India and used in cotton farming. The health hazards of these pesticides not only directly impact farm workers, but they are expensive – and alongside dependence on genetically engineered seeds and chemical fertilisers, farmers face spiralling debts and increased healthcare costs. A shocking number of farmers have been driven to the desperate act of suicide. Co-operatives like Chetna offer a radically different alternative, with a focus on using local resources, constructing viable financing models and giving farmers a shared platform from which to voice their concerns.
Healthier and more secure than before, farmers in Chetna Organic project a promising picture of their future in complete harmony with nature. A growth from 250 farmers in 2004 to over 15000 farmers by 2012 speaks for itself on how farmers have chosen to stand on a common pedestal of Environment… Ethics… Equilibrium!
Cotton that will eventually become a No Nasties t-shirt is lovingly harvested from the fields, transported to the mill in reusable sacks, cleaned, processed, kept at the ideal humidity level and eventually formed into big compressed bails for transporting all around India.
Let’s check out life on the Chetna farms, and in the communities around them.
All images from the brilliant Chetna Organic Facebook page.
Next up… the cotton bails are off to our very special factory. Stay tuned!