COYUCHI is a Northern California manufacturing company producing a full line of luxurious and comfortable cotton sheets, cases, duvet covers, pillow shams, baby bed linens, soft bath products, rugs, throws and blankets. COYUCHI products are made from certified organically grown cotton or wool. The cotton is grown in Peru, Turkey, India and Uganda. Wool comes from free-range sheep in the Juchitan region of Oaxaca, Mexico.
If all the cotton in the world were grown organically, the use of insecticides could be reduced 25 percent. In working toward that end, COYUCHI has been recognized for its role in bolstering the production of organic cotton. They have received the United Nations Second Annual Fashion Industry Award for Environmental Excellence.
Every fiber of cotton COYUCHI uses is produced in accordance with the standards set forth by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). Individual organizations handle the actual certification: IMO, a Swiss-based organization, certifies our Indian-grown cotton; SKAL, Dutch certifier, must approve our Ugandan and Turkish cotton.
What standards must COYUCHI meet in order for their cotton to be certified as organic?
• Seeds must be non-genetically engineered; insects should be controlled by methods that simulate what occurs in the natural environment, where "good" bugs eat "bad" bugs.
• There must also be an emphasis on keeping plants healthy — healthy plants are more resistant to infestation — fields are usually weeded by hand. Organic farms are not allowed to use any chemical fertilizers or chemical inputs, such as herbicides or other pesticides.
All COYUCHI organic cotton is grown in three developing countries — India, Turkey, and Uganda on family farms that range in size from 2 to 250 acres. COYUCHI willingly pays premium prices to these small-scale growers for their organic cotton fiber, because this encourages organic practices that protect, not only the environment, but these farmers, their families, and their communities from exposure to toxic agricultural chemicals. Also, by purchasing COYUCHI cotton at a better price per pound, the company helps support local and economically sustainable production.
|COYUCHI Indian cotton is grown by the Vidarbha Organic Project, a group of 80 farms located in 65 villages in the state of Mahrashtra in Western India. In addition to cotton, these farms, which are, on average, about 15 acres, produce a variety of crops including sorghum, wheat, and safflower. The crops are rain-fed, animals are used to plow the fields, and most labor is done by hand, including harvesting.|
|The Lango Organic Project, from which COYUCHI purchases their cotton in Uganda, involves 5,000 farmers and 150 villages located in the north-central part of the country. The farms are very small — about 2 acres each and grow millet, sesame, and root crops along or in rotation with cotton. As in India, the crops are rain-fed. Cultivation is done by hand with a simple hoe, but one of the goals of the project is to re-integrate animal husbandry with farming.|
In Turkey, COYUCHI purchases their cotton from 18 farms, all located in two areas — the Aegean region in western Turkey and Cukrova in the eastern part of the country. These farms, which range in size from 10 to 250 acres, also grow wheat, corn, tomatoes, and alfalfa. Here, farming takes place on a slightly larger scale than in India and Uganda; in addition to rainfall, crops are irrigated by furrow irrigation using pumps.
All three projects are initiatives of Bo Weevil. By coordinating these projects and similar ones, this Netherlands-based organization promotes the organic cultivation of cotton throughout the world. Bo Weevil provides technical assistance and financing, and even brokers sales. They also ensure that there's a market for the crops and that the farmers receive a fair price.
|After the fiber has been picked, it is ginned at a facility near the growing area. Ginning removes the seeds from the cotton fiber or lint, as it is called. The lint is then baled and sent to the COYUCHI mill in Punjab, India where it is spun into yarn, which is then woven into fabric. It is a state-of-the-art facility with computerized looms and the best spinning equipment available. Just as important, the facility is ISO (International Standards Organization) 9002 certified-which speaks well for both the quality of production and its labor and environmental practices.|
Once at the mill, the lumpy cotton lint is turned into a fuzzy cloud. This first step is called carding, and the cotton product, roving. Carding homogenizes the fibers, spacing each one equidistantly from the next. The roving must then be combed. Combing aligns the fibers; it separates out the longest and strongest fibers from the weaker, shorter fibers. These fall out from between the teeth of the comb and become noil-a material that makes ideal mattress stuffing. The roving is now spun into yarn.
Next, the yarn is woven into sheeting fabric. To do so it is immersed in a wheat-starch solution, a sizing, which both strengthens the yarn and makes it easier to weave. The woven yardage, greige (pronounced grey), goods are sent by ship from Bombay to North Carolina. Here again, though COYUCHI is sending their fabric half way around the world, they feel they have made a wise choice – an ocean liner is a very efficient means of transportation. In fact, it would require ten times the amount of fuel to move the same amount of cotton only 2,500 miles across the US. by truck.
Here, COYUCHI begins the finishing process. Finishing removes the wheat-starch sizing, cleans, softens, and then pre-shrinks the fabric so it feels and looks "finished." Some of the fabric is put through a hydrogen peroxide bleaching process to whiten it. Up until this point neither COYUCHI cotton fiber, yarn, or fabric has come into contact with any chemicals.
A number of chemicals are used in the various steps of finishing, though COYUCHI feels they've made the best choices they could make, and use only chemicals that are approved by certifying organizations, both in the US and Europe. In the spirit of open disclosure, their names and purposes are listed in our Technical Information below.
Pre-shrinking itself is a wholly non-chemical process that involves pulling and stretching the fabric using rubber pads and steam. Pre-shrinking molds the fabric to its final measurements.