Better Cotton Initiative


Since cotton plays such a large role in our business, working with BCI has been a crucial element of our sustainability efforts.

Cotton has been called one of the thirstiest crops in the world. It takes an enormous amount of water to grow enough cotton for the clothes we wear – and more water yet to maintain that clothing through laundering once purchased. More than 710 gallons of water are required to produce and care for one simple white t-shirt during its typical life cycle. That is the equivalent to the recommended amount of water an average person consumes over the course of almost four years.

BCI exists to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment in which it grows and better for our industry’s future. In 2012, VF partnered with BCI to support farmers and improve the environmental footprint of cotton production, by reducing the amount of fertilizers, pesticides and water in the cotton growing process.

"At BCI we have been impressed by the enthusiasm of VF as they continually step-up their involvement in Better Cotton. Since joining as a member in 2012, their dedication and hands-on participation continues to grow. We were delighted to welcome them to the Better Cotton Fast Track Program in 2013 – a significant commitment that accelerates the delivery of Better Cotton at farm level. The VF team is now also showing leadership in demonstrating the benefits of Better Cotton to other brands and retailers around the globe. They have contributed very materially to the growing success of the Better Cotton Initiative." - Patrick Laine Chief Executive Officer, Better Cotton Initiativ

In 2013, VF engaged with BCI and its training partner Solidaridad in a three-year program to create a sustainable cotton supply from smallholder farmers in Hebei province, China – one of the most significant cotton producing areas in the world’s largest cotton producing country. Solidaridad’s expertise is in teaching farmers how to care for the health of the soil and leverage their natural habitats to the benefit of the cotton being produced. We aim to train nearly 4,000 farmers in 19 villages across the Hebei province during the project’s three-year period. We are on track to reach our goal. In the project’s first year, we worked directly with 903 farmers in eight villages.

In addition, VF became one of only 10 companies to join BCI as a fast-track partner, charged with helping to channel funds directly to BCI-associated farmer training and improvement programs. The program will allow BCI and its partners to reach more regions, train more farmers and produce more cotton. The aim is that by 2015, BCI-associated farmers will be producing over 1 million metric tons of Better Cotton.

Lastly, VF is partnering with BCI to increase the amount of sustainably grown cotton in our supply chain. We have collaborated on target setting and on special projects like the Lee® Rethink brand, which now uses 100 percent BCI cotton in its jeans. In 2013, we reached our goal of using 1 percent, or approximately 1,800 tons, of sustainable cotton in our clothes – enough to make approximately 1.2 million pairs of jeans.

The VF-BCI Partnership by the Numbers

  • 2012: Year VF joined the BCI as a fast-track partner
  • 2013: Year VF joined Solidaridad in BCI project in Hebei Province, China
  • 903: Number of farmers engaged with the VF-BCI program in 2013
  • 1,800: Number of farmers estimated to be impacted by VF-BCI program in 2014
  • 615: Number of metric tons of BCI cotton in 2013
  • 850: Number of metric tons of BCI cotton estimated in 2014
  • 4,000: number of farmers estimated to be impacted by VF-BCI by 2015