Between water usage, pesticides, and textile waste, the fashion industry is no stranger to the over-consumption of resources. Although the world of eco-fashion has seen tremendous improvement throughout the years (special thank you to Berlin for helping pave the way), the industry’s environmental impact remains a major concern. One issue, in particular, pertains to the production of cotton.
Let’s break down just how harmful cotton production is in regards to the environment: one kilogram of cotton requires 10,000-20,000 liters of water. In “t-shirt terms”, that is roughly 700 gallons of water per cotton tee. Conventional cotton production is also heavily reliant on agricultural chemicals, potentially threatening the health of not only surrounding ecosystems, but of workers as well. By the end of 2015, only 13% of cotton was grown in a sustainable manner. Now more than ever, brands and clothing retailers must make a conscious effort to produce and purchase sustainable cotton.
Luckily, one company is already on the verge of hitting the target in eco-fashion. Retail giant Target announced earlier this month that they are launching a world-wide initiative to help fund the development of sustainable cotton production.
Now, when you think of Target, a few things come to mind. Superstore, perhaps. Inexpensive, maybe. Even America, is likely. International Space Station, however, not so much. Until now, at least. Target has partnered with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to literally skyrocket the efforts towards cotton sustainability. Calling all researchers and scientists of the world, you have officially been challenged to propose new experiments that can help eliminate the issues surrounding cotton production.
Between September 1st and November 1st, Target and CASIS are accepting submissions for ways to address the devastating environmental impacts of producing cotton. The winning and most promising proposals will be awarded $1 million – spent towards supporting their research in space. You read that right: space. Apparently, the microgravity environment aboard the ISS provides the “ideal” environment for identifying variables that could make cotton production a more sustainable practice. “The remote sensing capabilities of the space station also offers a unique vantage point from which one can study crops on the ground”, explained a rep from CASIS. Essentially, the underlying goal of the experiments is to find a way to decrease water consumption while remaining efficient. Ideally, whatever methods are gathered on the ISS can be brought to Earth and Target can proceed with a more sustainable way of producing those signature cotton tees.
So, the next time a company sets out a new environmental initiative, our immediate response will be “yeah, but are you doing it in space?”. Regardless, shout out to all companies trying, tirelessly, to make the world a better place, and not even considering the sky as a limit.
Information Gathered From: Sustainable Brands