Since the Rana Plaza garment factory building collapsed in 2013 burying more than 1,100 people, more and more of us are asking: Where do my T-shirts actually come from? Under what conditions are they produced? How do the people involved in producing my pullover live and work? What effects does our consumption have on our environment and the people behind our clothing? These and other questions have been gaining more attention over recent years. As a result, more and more of us want clothing that does not harm the environment or the people who have produced it.
If we want to protect the environment and improve production conditions, the message is clear: Less is more, and seals help in the search for sustainable products!
If garments bear a Cotton made in Africa label, consumers who buy them are supporting cotton farmers in Africa and protecting the environment. The Cotton made in Africa standard stands for sustainably produced cotton from Africa. The organisation works with a million cotton farmers in eleven Sub-Saharan African countries and certifies the work of smallholder farmers in the fields, the processing of the cotton raw material in ginning (deseeding) factories, and African cotton companies, which train the smallholders on site. Madeleine Tringal from Mafa-Kilda in Northern Cameroon regularly takes part in this training programme. One of the things she learns is the best crop rotation for the fields, to make the soil more fertile. “Thanks to the training I can plan well what I will grow on my field. This has the advantage for us as a family that we can use our resources more purposefully and thus even save money. In addition, the coaching has strengthened our cohesion in our farmer’s group. ” The training sessions help Madeleine to earn a livelihood from farming for herself and her five children. “The coaching has also brought our farmers’ group closer together”, explains Madeleine. The training is specially geared to the needs of the women participating.
For Madeleine and the other female cotton farmers participating in the programme, life has changed radically – for the better. They have more money in their pockets, they are more independent, and they have been able to strengthen their role as women in society. Textile companies can support this by partnering with the initiative, and we can support all this as consumers by buying a product with the CmiA label.