In the global textile industry, one fibre takes up almost 33% of the market share alone: cotton. (Cotton Archives 2021) The global demand since the 1990s has caused developing countries to increase the production of the plant significantly and has led to irreversible environmental damage in parts of the world. In order to fully understand the impact of this important plant on biodiversity, one must first understand its demand and process of growth.
In 2018, Europe as a whole imported around €5.2 billion worth of cotton from various countries. (The European market potential for sustainable cotton 2021) A majority of this cotton is imported from Turkey, Pakistan, India, China, and Egypt. The cost of these cotton imports has been steadily declining as more and more jobs are outsourced to developing nations. (The European market potential for sustainable cotton 2021) India and China specifically fall into the category of top three worldwide producers of the plant, alongside the United States. Many of the top cotton producing countries have been impacted through outside forces, such as the agribusiness giant, Monsanto. Their aim is to increase stock in genetically modified cotton, and as a result have had to increase pesticide usage as native insects begin to build immunity to the crop.
Looking at Germany, the cotton consumption is massive compared to the global population itself. Germany consumes roughly 4% of the world’s cotton supply while only making up about 1.1% of the global population. (Harnisch, 2019) This number has only increased in recent decades with the popularization of fast fashion, and the ‘buy once, wear once’ mentality that has accompanied it. The main cotton producers for the German market are India, China, Pakistan, and Turkey, together making up 64% of the German cotton supply. (Harnisch, 2019) Together, these countries produced around 14,457 metric tonnes of cotton between 2019 and 2020 for the global market. (Shahbandeh, 2020) In India, cotton production has increased from 2,380 metric tonnes in 2000 to 6,205 metric tonnes in 2019. (Centre, 2020) This steep increase of production has had many effects on global biodiversity, and with the fashion industry continuing to grow, it is safe to say that these effects will only get worse as time goes on.