Saturday, December 26, 2009
HEMP VS COTTON
A year or so ago I spoke at a natural fibres fair and made note of the facts about cotton. My inconvenient truths were not welcome, either by the cotton and bamboo merchants or by the press. Cotton is the world's largest crop, and is destroying the ecosystem. It is time we stopped it, but try to get the press to say anything! They don't like to. I almost succeeded with Drapers, a London based fashion and textile industry magazine, they listened and asked me to send in a letter, but then never published it. Over 90% of what they report, and advertise, has to do with cotton. So no surprise. Anyway, here is the letter they never published:
The Stones once painted the world black. Today, we are painting it green, which is the 'new black'. Do-gooders are dancing in the aisles, but are they in tune? They destroyed forests in Indonesia to plant palm oil; gave us low carbon bulbs full of mercury; ravaged the Amazon with soya; created chaos in India with jatropha, and; depleted water supplies by growing more cotton. This last issue I addressed on 18 May at the Fashion Made Fair, just after Katherine Hamnett signed cotton T shirts. Cotton, organic or otherwise, is water intensive. I poured out a pitcher of water for effect, and quoted Jeremy Smith of the Ecologist, who calculated that a hemp T shirt uses 2,800 litres of water less than a cotton one. Hemp, however, is eschewed by some. The good news is that hemp has arrived: Minawear is worn on prime time TV, Jilly Cholmondeley sheets are praised by the Independent, House of Hemp can scarce keep up with demand, Braintree occupies the flagship space in Camden Market, and THTC is de rigeur. Hemp attire is not Biblical sackcloth, and neither am I a lone voice crying in the wilderness. Similar observations are made by the aforementioned Smith and Cholmondeley, Louisa Pearson in Scotland on Sunday and Lucy Siegle in the Observer, who tackles Hamnett. We need to tune up to facts, however inconvenient they may be. For those wishing to repent of ignorant mistakes, there are coarse grades of hemp which make a good sackcloth; feel free to paint it black with organic ashes.