In July 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the Oxfam website and saw that it sold Sourced by Oxfam cotton bags and other cotton crafts. Some were Fairtrade, some were recycled cotton, some were neither. It did not have a policy to only use organic or recycled cotton. It did however have a new Cotton policy in its 2020 Ethical and Environmental policy which stated, "We will not knowingly source new products with cotton fibre or fabric from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan or Xinjiang (China), unless the supplier can demonstrate how forced labour concerns are being robustly addressed." However, as a widespread campaign not to source from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan was called, without more detail this could not be accepted.
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 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 June 2021, 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. Oxfam lost half a mark under Workers' Rights.
According to the 2020 Sustainable Cotton Ranking published by Pesticide Action Network UK, Solidaridad and WWF, conventional cotton production involved the overuse and misuse of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, which has significant impacts on ecosystems, and the health of farmers and their communities. Due to these impacts in cotton production worldwide this issue is covered by the Pollution & Toxics rating.
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, “Biotech cotton was planted to 25.7 million hectares, covering 79% of the global area of cotton in 2019.” 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 Oxfam did not have a policy to avoid GM cotton, it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.
Oxfam online shop (5 July 2021)