Water Management
Sustainable Growing

The future of sustainable denim: G-STAR's Homegrown Denim initiative

Joyce Rasquin
May 29, 2024

As part of Grodan’s ongoing commitment to sustainability, we’re proud to share the revolutionary findings of a collaborative initiative with G-STAR, a pioneering denim brand. In an era where sustainability is more than just a buzzword, the initiative is working on unveiling an innovative solution to the environmental challenges posed by traditional cotton farming. On May 29, 2024, G-STAR introduced: Homegrown Denim, a project that marks a significant milestone in sustainable fashion. This initiative is a result of a collaborative effort with Wageningen University & Research, Dutch Cotton, Inno Growers, and Grodan, highlighting the power of partnership in driving sustainability forward.

Revolutionising cotton production

G-STAR's Homegrown Denim initiative aims to grow cotton in greenhouses, a method that could drastically reduce the environmental impact of cotton production. This pioneering experiment addresses key issues such as excessive water usage, reliance on specific climates, and the long supply chains that characterise traditional cotton farming.

Addressing the challenges

Cotton is notorious for its high water consumption and the vast agricultural space it requires. Typically, it can take 10.000 litres of water to produce just a single kilogram of cotton. Additionally, cotton farming is heavily dependent on specific warm climates, limiting where it can be grown. With the increasing demand for responsibly sourced cotton, there is an urgent need for more sustainable farming methods.

Grodan's integral role

Grodan, a leader in innovative substrate solutions, plays a crucial role in this initiative. By providing state-of-the-art knowledge and solution on root zone management, Grodan ensures that the greenhouse-grown cotton thrives in optimal conditions. Their expertise in precision growing techniques helps in maximising yield while minimising resource use. Grodan's involvement is pivotal in demonstrating how sustainable practices can be integrated into high-yield cotton production.

Remarkable findings

The results of this six month research project at the Wageningen University and Research facility in Bleiswijk, the Netherlands were promising, demonstrating that greenhouse-grown cotton offers numerous benefits:

  1. Increased yields: Greenhouses boost cotton yield potential, with plants growing up to meters tall and producing 5 to 23 times more cotton.
  2. Extended growing season: Controlled greenhouse conditions allow for a longer harvesting period.
  3. Weather protection: Cotton grown in greenhouses is cleaner, whiter, and free from weather-related damage.
  4. Pest and disease management: Enclosed environments reduce the need for synthetic pesticides, naturally deterring pests and diseases.
  5. Water efficiency: Greenhouse systems can save up to approximately 95% of water per kilo of cotton by using recycled rainwater for irrigation.
  6. Soil conservation: Substrate cultivation is soilless and therefore preserves soil health.
  7. Localised production: Greenhouses support local economies and sustainability by minimising transportation needs and enhancing community resilience.
  8. Prolonged plant lifespan: Greenhouse environments enable multi-seasonal plant cultivation, improving sustainability and productivity.
“The biggest surprise for me in this research was how much cotton you can grow with how little water. We were able to harvest 5 - 23 times as much cotton with up to 95% less water.”

Filip van Noort

Crop Specialist Wageningen University & Research

A shortened supply chain

With the success of the greenhouse-grown cotton, G-STAR collaborated with local suppliers to create the first fully locally sourced and manufactured jeans. Every step, from ginning to finishing, was completed within the country, significantly shortening the supply chain and reducing the environmental impact.

A significant leap forward in sustainable fashion

G-STAR's Homegrown Denim represents a significant leap forward in sustainable fashion. By rethinking traditional cotton farming methods and embracing innovative solutions, with Grodan’s essential contribution to sustainable growing practices, G-STAR is paving the way for a more sustainable and responsible future for the denim industry.

For more information and for the full research report please visit www.gstar.com/homegrown-denim

Growing media and the efficient use of nutrients Whitepaper

Growing media and the efficient use of nutrients

One of the 15 global challenges formulated by the Millenium project is “How can population growth and resources be brought into balance?“ One aspect of this challenge is improving the use efficiency of the global resources e.g. nutrients. These nutrients are just as important to agriculture as water.

Where the magic happens: unlock the potential of data driven decision making

Data science and AI technologies present us with so many opportunities to collect and mine data in the greenhouse. This paper will help you begin your journey to get the best out of your greenhouse data. There’s a bright future ahead!