‘Kala’ Cotton

an old world solution to a modern day problem

Kala cotton is a genetically pure, rain-fed organic cotton hailing from India. Due to its ability to grow with very little water, kala cotton has minimal environmental impact when grown responsibly; such kala cotton is also considered to be amongst the most energy efficient and carbon neutral crops in the world.

Why is cotton not very good for the environment?

Cotton is amongst the most environmentally demanding crops. While cotton fabric is durable and bio degradable, the cultivation of cotton has a significant adverse environmental impact due to its:

  • high water requirement. For example, it takes between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans and up to 3,000 to make a t-shirt!
  • usage of high levels of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides that seep into the soil and surrounding eco systems

The overall story is even grimmer – due to its water intensive nature, cotton is usually grown through extensive irrigation, with vast tracts of fertile land being cleared for its cultivation. The cultivation process itself is also toxic – studies claim that developing countries see deaths and illnesses due to the harsh chemicals used in cultivating cotton. Finally, over generations, the use of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides strip the soil of all nutrients and can lead to desertification.

What is kala cotton and how is it environmental friendly/ non damaging?

Kala cotton is a genetically pure (as opposed to commonly used commercial cotton which is genetically modified) strain of cotton hailing from India. It is an ‘old-world’ cotton, with cultivation dating back many centuries. Kala cotton has the ability to grow with very little water – it is commonly cultivated in a drought prone part of India that does not have access to irrigation, and is purely rain fed. Having been cultivated for centuries, kala cotton is also very hardy and resistant to pests; it is hence grown with a pesticide-free and fertilizer-free approach, making it organic.

Due to its being only rain fed, grown without toxic chemicals and a natural eco friendly fibre that is bio degradable, kala cotton is a sustainable fabric with minimal environmental impact, both during production and after usage as clothing.

Being cotton, the fabric is breathable, skin friendly, soft and hardy, well suited for repeated use and in both warm and cool weather. The fabric also has shorter fibers compared to genetically modified, commercially used cotton – this lends the kala cotton a unique, beautiful texture.

Further, the kala cotton used by Sway is sourced responsibly from small weavers who grow small batches of the cotton and spin them into fabric, encouraging a more sustainable cottage industry set up. This further reduces the carbon footprint that accompanies large scale cultivation and manufacture, whilst providing employment to small weavers in rural areas.