In 2013, Primark launched ‘Sustainable Cotton’ programme with an aim to use 100 per cent sustainable cotton in all its product categories. The brand currently uses sustainable cotton in women’s pyjamas, range of denim, towels and bedding with menswear and t-shirts next in line.
As a part of this programme, the fast fashion retailer has set a new target of training 160,000 farmers in India, Pakistan and China in eco-friendly farming methods by 2022. Different farming methods being taught include efficient irrigation, planting in rows with trenches to maximise drainage, introducing pesticides and fertilizers such as cow dung to reduce the use of chemical options.
Primark’s ethical trade and environment sustainability director, Katherine Stewart said, “We are going to do as much as possible to minimise the use of fertilizers and pesticides on crops, but equally we don’t want is for the farmers not to be able to deal with some of the pests when they have them.” Completely organic farming means a much lower yield which would affect the livelihoods of farmers, some of whom in India have increased their incomes by 200 per cent since enrolling on the programme, she adds.
Project Manager of Policy and Research at Fahion Revolution, Ilishio Lovejoy said, “We are happy to see Primark stepping up their efforts to source 100 per cent sustainable cotton and if successful, this should support hundreds of thousands more farmers, especially women, significantly improve their lives and that of their families.”