Are you the new Mr. Green Jeans? Cottoning on to "green" clothes

Model: Suzanne Dias. Phtographer: Eric Guillermain.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Model: Suzanne Dias. Phtographer: Eric Guillermain. Courtesy: EJF

I always assumed clothing made from cotton, linen, or wool, or hemp is somehow more environmentally friendly that clothes made from synthetics derived from petroleum. Well...in Europe the fashion industry has moved from the fur-flying battle over animal skins to...cotton. Where and how the cotton is grown can matter.

And some designers and clothing labels are moving to sell environmentally safe cotton. Wal-mart is often a political target in the U.S., but they moved swiftly on this issue and the retailer is now the world's largest seller of organic cotton products.

Environmental Justice Foundation is the NGO leading the charge, and levelling the charges against some of the cotton industry: pesticide poisoning, child labor, environmental pollution and resource depletion. The EJF campaign is called "Pick Your Cotton Carefully." The rounded up a bunch of models to show off their eco-friendly t-shirts, and maybe that's what caught my eye....

In the United States, organic cotton is the most available "green" fabric. Wal-Mart is now the biggest seller of organic cotton products worldwide. American cotton production's declining this year due to skyrocketing prices for other crops like soybeans and wheat that can be grown in the same fields.

The leading cotton producer now is India, using mostly genetically modified cotton plants. The US is #2 and Uzbekistan is #3. That country is one of the main targets of the clean cotton crowd. EJF charges Uzbekkistan with using children as young as seven to pick cotton. Cotton industry insiders say that's not true.

GM Crops

The rapid and strong commercial success of genetically modified cotton in India is expected to lead to further GM farming. The government there has now approved field testing of GM food crops for the first time.

Interesting to note that one of India's biggest cotton-buying customers: their-long antagonistic neighbor, Pakistan.

India's expanding cotton export trademakes it the #1 competitor with the U.S for sales to China which doesn't produce all its own cotton. Both Pakistan and China are major cotton growers but both must import to meet domestic market demand.

Cotton can be a thirsty crop and in California the fields are irrigated using considerable energy to pump the even more conisderable amounts of water needed to grow cotton where there is no summer rainfall.

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