October 22, 2021

How to debunk misinformation on cotton

3 min read

Transformers Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides a platform for people to share their expertise and opinion on industry threats and solutions, and ICAC (International Cotton Advisory Committee), an association of cotton producing, consuming and trading countries, have published “Cotton: A Case Study In Misinformation,” a report that aims to share critical data consumption in fashion and eradicate misleading claims.

During a recent Transformers Foundation Catalyst event

During a recent Transformers Foundation Catalyst event

The study will be presented via digital livestream on two dates. On October 13 it will present a first part focused on “Debunking myths, fact-checking and how to use data responsibly” and on October 18 it will analyze a series of other aspects such as “Anti-greenwashing legislations, responsible marketing and citizenship.”

Transformers Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides a platform for people to share their expertise and opinion on industry threats and solutions, and ICAC (International Cotton Advisory Committee), an association of cotton producing, consuming and trading countries, have published “Cotton: A Case Study In Misinformation,” a report that aims to share critical data consumption in fashion and eradicate misleading claims.

The study will be presented via digital livestream on two dates. On October 13 it will present a first part focused on “Debunking myths, fact-checking and how to use data responsibly” and on October 18 it will analyze a series of other aspects such as “Anti-greenwashing legislations, responsible marketing and citizenship.”

The report says that the fashion industry has a serious and growing misinformation problem as within it inaccurate and outdated figures are widely shared.

Cotton plant

Cotton plant

Such a phenomenon is further amplified as this broad “information disorder,” is often spread via the uncontrolled action of digital tools and social networks.

The study presents some of the most common “myths” circulating about fashion and cotton and explains how such “myths” are often not correct or very old. It also encourages developing a critical approach toward many commonplace and data consumption–related information circulating throughout the textile world.

Moreover, through its different sections, it aims to analyze crucial aspects related to the cotton industry that emerge after a series of interviews with insiders and experts of the market explaining how the state of the art is from their insiders’ point of view.

Some of the most widespread and common untruths mentioned in the report include, for instance, “Fashion is the second most-polluting industry” or “Cotton consumes a quarter of all pesticides.” It wants to debunk the popular statement that “A single T-shirt requires 20,000 liters of water to make” and that “Textiles are responsible for 20% of water pollution globally.”

The authors of the report are Elizabeth L. Cline, an expert and advocate in fashion sustainability and labor rights, and Marzia Lanfranchi, the Foundation’s intelligence director and co-founder of Cotton Diaries. The report includes current leading research, various interviews with industry experts to form in-depth case studies discrediting the most widely used cotton statistics, while providing the industry and consumers with more trustworthy and recent data on cotton and pesticides, as well as providing readers tools and exercises to engrain critical data consumption and use.

The report is organized into the following sections: 

– Fashions Misinformation Problem and How It Works

– Cottons Environmental Impact: The Myths Versus the Reality

– Cotton and Water: The Reality (key figures, statistics and context)

– Cotton and Pesticides: The Reality (key figures, statistics and context)

– Cotton, the Environment, and Cotton Farmers (cottons social impacts)

– How to Use Data Responsibly

– Six Calls to Action for the Industry – Best Practice for Citizens, Civil Society and Non-profits, Media, Brands and Industry

Andrew Olah, founder, Kingpins, Kingpins24 and Transformers Foundation

Andrew Olah, founder, Kingpins, Kingpins24 and Transformers Foundation

“Transparency and traceability prove authenticity. We envision a future where farmers tabulate the amount of pesticides they use, the amount of water they use, all the different inputs to compare this with their yield and continue retrieving the stream of data to a product’s end of life,” said Andrew Olah, founder of Transformers Foundation. “We have been eager to launch this report to provide readers with tools to enable data transparency that will ultimately inform best practice and viable solutions for the health of the planet, the people and our industry.”

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