2700 Litres of water to make 1 kilo of cotton..?
Large parts of the world are experiencing the same conditions as our own Murray Darling Basin. Fresh water supplies are dwindling, soil salinity is increasing and cotton production is a front runner in speeding that process along.
Also, cotton occupies 2.5% of the world’s agricultural land, but consumes 16% of all the insecticides and 6.8% of all herbicides used worldwide. More chemical pesticides are used for cotton than for any other crop.
To say cotton is a very pesticide-intensive crop is a gross understatement. When soil becomes saturated with rain, these highly toxic chemicals leach into our rivers and ground water.
The ecological disasters don’t stop there. Pests develop resistance to the chemicals over time and the increasing chemical toxicity eliminates not only the pests, but their natural enemies. What does all that mean? A severe reduction in bio diversity and the increasing potential for other pests to become a major problem.
If depleting our fresh water supplies, ruining our land and poisoning our rivers and groundwater isn’t problem enough, lets have a look at it from a personal “I wear cotton” perspective.
60% of the world’s cotton is used for clothing.
Up to 8000 chemicals can be used in the production and processing of textiles.
Aldicarp is a commonly used cotton pesticide. A single drop of this highly toxic chemical absorbed through the skin can kill an adult. Cotton pesticides banned under the Soviet regime are still being used in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is the world’s second largest cotton exporter.
Skin is our largest organ—adults carry 3.6 kilograms and 2 square meters of it and hazardous cotton pesticides are frequently detected in clothing made from cotton.
Some of the effects from cotton pesticides include nerve cell damage, impaired memory, severe depression and disruption of the immune system.
The effects of cotton farming are extremely serious. Some would say catastrophic.
In complete contrast, Hemp is naturally pest resistant , can compete with weeds in growing time and requires little or no pesticides. Hemp grows tall and thin and can be planted tightly together to form a natural barrier against outside weeds and pests.
The environmental benefits don’t stop there. Hemp requires almost half the amount of water to create the same. It grows faster. Creates 200-250% more yield in the same land space and is self sustaining.
To process the fibres, the outer layer of bark has to be removed along with the woody core in a process called ‘retting’. The traditional method of paddock ‘retting’ is where naturally occurring microbes break down the bark. It is also ecologically the friendliest as 60-70% of the nitrogen (fertiliser) is returned to the soil creating ideal conditions for the next crop.
Hemp also sequesters carbon back into the soil through a process called, bio-sequestration. In this process, hemp captures carbon emissions from the atmosphere and mixes this charcoalesque product with other nutrients and returns it to the soil.
Hemp fibre is not only naturally one of the most environmentally friendly fibres, but also the strongest. Hemp is naturally UV resistant and has 3 X the tensile strength of cotton. Hemp was used in the production of a myriad of products before Prohibition and before nylon was patented by Dupont in 1937 .
Comfort and ability to breathe has always been a strong suit for cotton. However, today’s hemp cloth is a far cry from the coarse fabric of yesteryear.
New age hemp cloth matches cotton in every aspect. Hemp cloth wicks water away from the body effectively and possesses anti-bacterial properties that trumps any other natural fibre. This means hemp will not grow mould or mildew and does not hold odour.
However, cotton is no match for hemp when it comes to strength or durability.
When you consider the environmental impacts, and that hemp clothing today is not only one of the most durable, but also one of the most comfortable and tailored fabrics available, there is no debate!