Synthetic

The skyrocketing amount of plastic trash is unquestionably a scary situation, and the calls to ban plastics straws and “cotton buds” are worth considering. However, note that in this context, "cotton bud" refers to the plastic stem, NOT the cotton swabs themselves. Also, many manufacturers have replaced the plastic stems with paper ones to minimise their environmental impact.

 


Synthetic

When water molecules penetrate a fibre, they often act like a lubricant, which weakens the material. But water only makes cotton stronger, unlike viscose rayon (which loses strength) and synthetics (which are unaffected). Cotton is 99% cellulose, and hydrogen atoms in the water bond with those in the cellulose. That increases cotton's strength by about 20% -- and, since cotton can absorb more than 25X its weight in water, it's the ideal material for 'wet work'.

Synthetic

There is a new plastic pollution threat, and this one isn't in the water: It's in the air. In the Pyrénées mountains in France, researchers found nearly 4,000 plastic particles per square foot of land. They suspect the microfibres were deposited there by wind currents, carrying them to this supposedly untouched region more than 60 miles away. It should be noted that to prevent the researchers' clothes from contaminating the samples, 'collectors were expected to wear cotton'. Natural fibres > synthetic fibres


The Plastic Waste Shell Game

In 2018, the US shipped 157,000 shipping containers of plastic waste overseas. That's 429 20-foot-long containers every single day. Many of the countries have poor waste management capabilities and simply incinerate the waste, landfill it, or throw it in the water. When it comes to plastic waste, out of sight might be out of mind but that doesn't mean it's really gone. A plastic bag that landfilled in 1960 is probably still there, because landfills deprive the waste they contain both oxygen and water. That bag might be there forever. Not to mention that replacing cotton with plastics shift income from smallholder families — often in the least-developed countries on earth — to executives in giant chemical companies.



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Synthetic

The skyrocketing amount of plastic trash is unquestionably a scary situation, and the calls to ban plastics straws and “cotton buds” are worth considering. However, note that in this context, "cotton bud" refers to the plastic stem, NOT the cotton swabs themselves. Also, many manufacturers have replaced the plastic stems with paper ones to minimise their environmental impact.

 

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Land Usage

Talk about efficiency! Cotton occupies a mere 3% of the world's agricultural area -- yet it meets 27% of the world's textile needs. That's getting your fibre's worth! Globally, cotton's land use has remained relatively constant over the past 50 years, but the volume of fibre produced has increased. In other words, cotton growers are producing more cotton without planting on more land.

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Innovation

Additive manufacturing has evolved from a pipe dream to a hotbed of innovation. Cotton-based filaments are appealing to 3D printers because they:

  •          Conduct heat well
  •          Get stronger when they're wet
  •          Are more scalable than materials like wood pulp

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Consumer Preference

The people have spoken: Whether working or resting, cotton is #1! The majority of consumers say cotton is the best fabric for activewear, and more than 2 out of 3 say that 100% cotton sheets offer the best night’s sleep. 

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Social Impact

Although about 80 percent of the world’s production comes from Brazil, China, India, Pakistan, the United States and Uzbekistan, cotton is grown in more than 100 countries – and it provides an income to hundreds of millions of people around the world every year.

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