In June 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Oxfam website and saw that it sold own-brand and Sourced by Oxfam cotton bags. Some were organic, some were Fairtrade, some were neither. It also sold some recycled cotton products. It did not have a policy to only use organic or recycled cotton.
In 2019 Ethical Consumer had received a response to a clothing questionnaire sent to Oxfam. This stated:
"The majority of our products made from cotton are in our homewares range. These are all made from recycled cotton materials from WFTO-certified producer groups.... The cotton bags and homewares we sell are either WFTO or Fairtrade (FLO), GOTS certified or 100% recycled fabric where possible.
"We do not currently have a policy explicitly forbidding the use of cotton from Uzbekistan, and while Fairtrade might approve a Fairtrade supplier from this region, they do not currently have any active cotton producers in this region.
"We use organic cotton wherever possible, however this is dependent on its availability to the producer groups that we work with."
According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.
The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.
https://www.oxfam.org.uk (1 June 2020)