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Building a Sustainable Fiber & Textile System: Opportunities for Holistic Solutions in Cotton Production

May 15, 2018 @ 9:00 am 10:00 am PDT

Co-sponsored by: 11th Hour Project, Island Foundation andSustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Funders

Fiber crops—both plant- and animal-derived—are a critical but often overlooked part of the global and U.S. agricultural system. Previous SAFSF site visits and webinars have focused on hemp and animal fiber. In this webinar, we’ll take a closer look at the crop that represents the largest share of natural fibers: cotton. The U.S. is the world’s third largest cotton producer, with more than 12 million acres planted in 2017, and the world’s top cotton exporter. Expansion of organic and regenerative cotton production practices thus offers huge opportunity for improvements in water quality, soil carbon sequestration, and farmer livelihoods both domestically and globally.

Whether your work focuses on soil health, water quality, pesticide reduction, international agriculture, impact investing in the supply chain, or another area, you will leave with a better understanding of cotton’s critical role in agriculture and global trade and a sense of the many opportunities to make change in this area through nonprofit, impact investment, and philanthropic approaches.

Our speakers are La Rhea Pepper, a 5th generation Texas cotton farmer and the managing director of Textile Exchange. She will provide a brief overview of the U.S. cotton industry and share her perspectives on the opportunities and benefits of organic cotton. Eric Henry, president and CEO of TS Designs, will offer a for-profit business perspective on his t-shirt screen printing company’s experience after NAFTA and his decision to rebuild a complete “Dirt to Shirt” supply chain in the Carolinas. Finally, we’ll learn from Anita Chester, Head of Sustainable Raw Materials for the C&A Foundation, about the work of this large global foundation, which focuses entirely on transforming the apparel industry into a force for good.


Sarah Kelley, senior program officer, Island Foundation


Anita Chester, head of sustainable raw materials, C&A Foundation
Eric Henry, president & CEO, TS Designs / Cotton of the Carolinas
La Rhea Pepper, managing director, Textile Exchange

Before the webinar, we encourage you to take 15 minutes to watch this great video about the “Cotton of the Carolinas” program developed by webinar speaker Eric Henry — it will give you a great overview of the cotton production supply chain plus a sneak preview of some of the economic development and investment aspects we’ll be touching on.

Areas of Impact:

Consolidation  |   Economic Viability  |   Fruits and Vegetables  |   Investment/Lending  |   Nutrition  |   Soil  |   Water Quality

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