You might have heard it by now, but cotton is the devil. I know, I know. I am one of cotton’s evil minions. I am wearing the touch and feel of cotton right now! It is the fabric of our lives. I know.
But that doesn’t make it right. I am in the process of trying to cut my steady dependance on the stuff even thought I come from a family of cotton farmers (on the one side. But don’t worry, we’ve moved on to petroleum products for our fortune. Oh crap! That’s tomorrow’s blog.)Anywho… industry momentum is pretty much the only reason left that we make all of our clothing from cotton or synthetics instead of natural and sustainable fibers like hemp. With some consumer ethics kicked into high gear we can change that pretty quickly. Hemp easily has the advantage on cotton when it comes to warmth, absorbency, durability and tensile strength. Hemp also breaths better and wicks away moisture better. The long standing disadvantages have been the scalability of the crop and the softness or fineness of the fiber count. The latter of these issues has been addressed by Crailar (and probably others). The former will only be addressed once the consumer tide changes and producers scale up to match.
HT Naturals claims that even by blending cotton and hemp you can save 744 gallons of water on a single t-shirt. So, to sum up — hemp good, cotton evil. Oh, but you might be saying, “what about organic cotton, chump?” Well, some say potato, some say potato. (Hmmm. Kinda’ loses its effect when typed.) Fine. It’s organic. That deals away with the pesticide problem (cotton uses 50% of all pesticides in U.S. even though it is around 2% of total cropland). But, organic cotton is still cotton. It still damages the soil, uses crazy amounts of water to grow and process and now you aren’t even getting a half to a third of the crop per acre that you would with hemp (because you have gone organic). Organic cotton is kinda’ like driving a Prius. (Oh, snap! I said it.) The label looks nice if someone reads it, but it is a stop gap effort at best.
So, cotton has been king for long enough. It has been a good ride. What with slavery and all, depleting most of the soil in the Southern United States, and poisoning our environment so that Southerners are all sterile and/or impotent, it’s been fun. But it is time to give hemp a run.