A Cotton Rant

My well-meaning father sent me this tweet the other day:

Funny enough, he doesn’t remember having brown or green cotton plants in his own backyard…

That’s what really ticked me off about this. We’ve had colored strains of cotton for ages, thanks to the indigenous folks in South America. They had a multitude of colors and we cross-bred most of them out so we could have white cotton to dye. Game changer, indeed.

Remember what happened to my green and brown cotton plants, though? I planted them next to Egyptian plants, and they lost most of their color. It was so easy to do, I did it accidentally.

And we’re genetically-altering plants, which we know has the capacity to decimate native strains, to reduce waste water? You know what would really take care of that? Let’s use wool where we can.

Cotton plants need a lot of heat and a ton to water to thrive, I can tell you from experience. One sheep would drink as much water and give up to four times the fiber. Sheep can also give year after year, where most cotton plants only last the season. Most sheep breeds are also more economical to process, and protein fibers take dye easier (read again, less water) than plants do. I’m not saying I want wool underwear, of course, but if conservation is your end goal, wool is the real player in your changed game.

So why are we seeing so much more with cotton, anyway? Keep in mind the US is the third-highest producer of cotton in the world. There definitely isn’t a wool lobby… So, I feel the need to do what I can to sing its praises. To that end, thanks for coming to my TED talk!

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