As the Materials Manager at Stio, Sandy Flint is responsible for sourcing, developing, testing and commercializing the fabric and trim across all of Stio’s product categories. In addition to materials management, Sandy serves as the co-chair of Stio’s Stewardship Council, a formalized effort to lead and facilitate progress at Stio. The ultimate goal is to, “Reduce environmental and social impacts for the business.” Through this lens, Sandy is constantly looking for new materials that can meet Stio performance standards and help the company become better stewards of the mountain life.
Organic Cotton: Stio’s Preferred Fiber
This fall, we are excited to introduce Organic Cotton to a variety of product collections. At Stio, organic cotton is considered a preferred fiber because it has a smaller environmental impact and more positive social impact than conventional cotton. Global fiber production has more than doubled in the last 20 years and is projected to continue on this trajectory into the future. As Stio grows, so too does its fiber consumption. While awareness and innovation towards more recycled and responsibly sourced materials can be seen throughout the outdoor industry, the overall adoption of preferred materials is still surprisingly low. Accelerating such initiatives will help reduce the overall fiber footprint on the planet.
The Stio Stewardship Council helped identify numerous areas of impact from waste reduction and climate action to social compliance and employee wellbeing. Through this exercise, we identified raw materials as the single greatest impact area to reduce its environmental footprint. Specifically, organic cotton was prioritized because organic farming practices can help protect clean water, reduce energy consumption, is healthier for people and is ultimately a better option in the long run for a more sustainable planet.
Benefits of Using Organic Cotton
One of the primary reasons Stio is transitioning toward the use of Organic Cotton in more of its products is because conventionally grown cotton relies on extensive use of synthetic fertilizers, soil additives, pesticides, herbicides and GMO seeds to promote cotton yields. All of these substances have unintended side effects on soil, water, and air quality. Organic cotton, when produced and certified to organic agricultural standards, can help sustain healthy soil, promote biodiversity and requires less water to produce. Organic farming is also beneficial to farmworkers and nearby communities as a means to reduce exposure to potentially toxic and carcinogenic compounds that come from conventional farming practices. Organic farming relies instead on natural processes that help promote cleaner air and water.
Organic Cotton utilizes crop rotation to maintain soil health and relies heavily on rainwater for irrigation. Healthy biodiverse soil has a greater capacity to hold water within the land. Compared to conventional cotton, growing organic cotton has the potential to:
- Reduced global warming potential 45%
- Reduced acidification of land and water 70%
- Reduced Eutrophication (soil erosion potential) 26%
- Reduced blue water consumption 87%
- Reduced primary energy demand 62%
An average sized t-shirt made from conventional cotton requires more than 2,000 gallons of water. The same t-shirt using organic cotton will require less than 200 gallons. Simply put, relying on conventional cotton production practices is not sustainable. We at Stio have made a proactive decision to reduce our carbon, water and chemical footprint by adopting preferred materials that align with on of our core values within the company, to be stewards of the mountain life.
Why You Should Care About Organic Cotton
Demand for organic cotton is driven by brands that proactively adopt and promote the material and customers who make a lifestyle choice to support organically grown fibers. Clothes made from organic cotton support healthier processes for both people and our planet. Surprisingly, less than 1% of cotton produced globally is certified organic. When consumers buy clothing made with organic cotton, they help cast a vote of support for organic farming practices and help drive positive change.
People shopping for Stio products this fall will find Organic Cotton used in our signature Rivet Cord Pants, Saratoga Cord Shirts, Men's Rivet Canvas Pants and the new Buckhorn Insulated and Hutkeeper Flannel Shirts. Moving forward, Stio will continue to expand the implementation of Organic Cotton in new and existing products.