Think. Eat. Save.

Liesl Truscott - 05 June 2013

describe the imageWednesday 5th June is World Environment Day. On this day all of us – from all walks of life – are asked to think about the everyday things many of us take for granted: the food we eat, the water we drink and bathe in, and the air we breathe.  Seldom do we stop and contemplate the sheer beauty of our world or its abundant supplies.

The theme this year is Think.Eat.Save. Think.Eat.Save is an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages us to reduce our “foodprint”. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, 1 in every 7 people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of 5 die daily from hunger.

The children show us the way! To celebrate World Environment Day the team at Textile Exchange along with our members and friends asked schoolchildren from the organic cotton producing regions to come up with a piece of artwork to link their family’s food farming and cotton farming.  We hoped to leverage the excitement and exposure of World Environment Day to promote the benefits of crop diversification (including preserving local and traditional crop varieties), and how diversification contributes to food and nutritional security. We were enormously impressed by the results, and appointed one of the children as our World Environment Day Ambassador. We think the beautiful artwork prepared by the children from the 12 participating schools (spanning 6 different countries) speak louder than words. We invite you to take the journey and delight in the beautiful visuals and profound messages provided by the children here.

Every participating child is an Ambassador for World Environment Day. However, there was one little girl Siddhi Kushwah aged 10 from the Swayam Academy in India, who stole the hearts of all of us and is awarded: Textile Exchange World Environment Day Ambassador for 2013. The Swayam Academy was kindly supported by Mahima and sponsored by the C&A Foundation. Siddhi’s passionate contribution to the theme, and spirit, of World Environment Day can be heard here.

Siddhi narrates the dream she holds in her mind... to see this wonderful world beautiful and free from any pollution. For she thinks that everyone should be made aware of keeping this land pollution free. We are born and survive in this land. This is our moral duty to save it. She also emphasizes on keeping its fertility by avoiding the use of chemicals in production. Organic production of agriculture will surely keep us healthy and wealthy, if we all go for that. She has laid emphasis on the major issue of Global Warming... Though it is a very difficult task, every step in doing good will be just like a mile walk.

We all depend upon the Earth’s diversity and resources – but none feel it more directly than the world’s small-scale farmers. The massive consumption of both renewable and non-renewable resources contributes to a massive loss of biodiversity – with current extinction rates of birds, mammals and amphibians estimated to be at least 100 times, but possibly over 1,000 times, higher than pre-industrial rates. The poorest populations are most affected by such changes given that they rely directly on natural resources - such as fishing, small-scale agriculture or forestry - for their livelihoods (United Nations).

Organic agriculture is a beacon of sustainable agriculture. What many people, living lives miles away from the countryside, do not realise is that organic cotton farmers do not only grow cotton. At the very least to grow cotton organically, farmers must undertake a certain amount of crop rotation. Rotating cotton with legumes (such as mung beans or peanuts) adds nitrogen to the soil. This is essential to replenish and maintain soil fertility. The “best” organic cotton farmers are using every trick in Mother Nature’s book to build soil organic matter (green manure, composting, intercropping, and so on) and to keep pests at bay (host crops such as bright yellow sunflowers, botanicals such as neem leaves). More and more people believe that working within nature and nutrient cycles to build soil fertility and keep pests under control, in a way that doesn’t harm other species (including ourselves), is pivotal to sustainable agriculture. In this respect “organic” provides a beacon of best practice.

describe the imageTextile Exchange promotes biodiversity and food security alongside cotton production. We envision a global textile industry that protects and restores the environment and enhances lives. We promote cotton production that contributes to people’s well-being and makes sure the next generation after us has a healthy, safe, ecologically rich and bountiful environment in which to thrive. To achieve this vision, we are passionate about the biodiversity of organic cotton farming and the food and nutritional security this diversity can achieve for farming communities.

As we celebrate World Environment Day we would like to thank the following local champions for supporting the school activities:
Agrocel (India), Appachi (India), Bio Farmer Co-operative (Kyrgyzstan), Bio Kishovarz Co-op (Tajikistan), bioRe Tanzania (Africa), Chetna (India), ESPAR (Brazil), Esquel (China), Mahima (India), Mecilla (China), Helvetas Benin (Africa), and Pratibha (India).

We also thank the following TE member companies for their sponsorship of the event:green apparel, C&A Foundation, Dibella, Esquel, Inditex, Loomstate, Otto Group, Patagonia, Pants To Poverty, PUMA, and Quiksilver.

We could not have done this - or achieve so much progress in organic cotton - without you!

And finally we say a big thank you to all the wonderful girls and boys who thought long and hard about delivering us their special messages for today... and threw everything into their creations for World Environment Day.

  • View all World Environment Day entries click here.
  • To find out more about our World Environment Day activities click here.
  • To view the excitement and creativity leading up to the event view our pinboard here.
  • To follow our World Environment Day activities on FaceBook please click here.

Happy World Environment Day!

Liesl Truscott is director of Textile Exchange's Farm team. You can contact her via

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26 August 2013 13:04


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