Textile Exchange and the Organic Trade Association have joined forces in a bid to strengthen the North American organic textile industry's public policy influence and public relations efforts.

The collaboration will see the two organisations work together on legislative advocacy, public outreach and consumer education initiatives. The agreement was signed in conjunction with the recent formation of the Organic Trade Association's (OTA) Fiber Council, created to provide a cohesive voice across fibre categories within OTA and to grow the North American organic fibre sector overall. 

A major goal of the new partnership will be to boost outreach to North American consumers on the benefits of organic fibres and textiles, particularly the environmental and social benefits of growing and processing them. This will involve legislative advocacy initiatives undertaken by the Fiber Council, organic fibre market messaging to consumers, and the development and participation in various industry initiatives such as workshops, seminars and webinars.

"This is just the beginning of an exciting collaboration that will propel the organic fibre sector to the next level," said Marci Zaroff, founder of Under the Canopy, and OTA and Textile Exchange board member. "People want to make organic a bigger part of their lifestyle, but they are often unaware of all the ways that organic fibre can contribute to human and planetary wellness, as well as social justice."

According to OTA's 2015 Organic Industry Survey, US organic fibre sales were the fastest-growing non-food sector, reaching US$1.1bn in 2014, up 18% from the previous year. The leading organic fibre is cotton. In 2014, US growers planted organic cotton on 18,234 acres – the largest number of US acres devoted to organic cotton since 1995. 

And according to Textile Exchange's 2014 Organic Market Report, global sales of organic cotton products reached an estimated $15.7bn in 2014, up 10% from 2013.