It’s called Cupro, and it’s made from the silky fibers that stick to cotton seeds during the textile production process. Usually, it’s thrown away, but some brilliant soul has figured out how to use it, and the result is a silky-smooth, durable fabric that drapes well and is machine washable! A cellulose fiber, cupro is in the same family as Tencel and modal, and takes its name from cuprammonium, the method used to process the cotton linters (those silky fibers I mentioned).
So why is this material so ecologically fabulous? Besides it being a by-product of the cotton production process, it dyes easily and therefore requires less dye. It’s also hypoallergenic, anti-static, and stretch-resistant. It’s breathable like cotton and silky like, well…silk. Cupro is also often blended with other eco-textiles and noted for its drapability.
Egyptians voted in the first free presidential elections in the nation’s history this week, so I’d like to dedicate this post to them.
There’s a lot of debate over how fair these elections can be in a nation still essentially controlled by the ruling military council and lacking a concrete constitution. But, as Egypt’s democracy is suffering what I hope are only growing pains, it’s organic cotton industry is in full bloom.
Cotton is a crop that requires a lot of water and is often defended against pests by being doused with harsh chemicals that not only harm the environment, but are dangerous to the health of the cotton farmers. Egyptian cotton, long-revered as the best in the world due to the length of the fiber itself, was no exception.
Levi jeans are a timeless classic. Since 1873, the jeans have gone through quite an evolution. The most recent incarnation of the blue jeans is waterless.
A leader in sustainability for decades, Levi Strauss & Co. has taken the next step to reduce water consumption in its manufacturing. The label “waterless” may be a little misleading, as there it still quite a bit of water going in to the garment production – beginning in the cotton fields. Levi is working on that too, as a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, a coalition of textile firms and retailers that seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of cotton and better support farmers. The initiative is testing out new methods of irrigation in cotton farming. In a 3-year study of farms in India, farmers’ profits were 20% higher using the new sustainable methods.
The new stonewashed jeans are still stone-washed, just without water. In the video below, you can see them actually being put in a big spinning machine full of stones.
I’m in Nicaragua right now, so I thought it only fitting that my first real post in the Cotton Questions series be about the Nicaraguan Cotton industry.
A Short-Lived Industry
According to Wikipedia, cotton only came to Nicaragua in the 1950s with the invention of the right (I use that term loosely) pesticides. In the 80s the cotton business was booming, but that boom was short-lived. A variety of factors, including competition from Chile and decreasing prices contributed to its decline, but perhaps the worst problem was the pesticides.
Apparently, conventionally-produced cotton is the second-most pesticide-laden crop (after coffee) and Nicaraguan cotton took even more pesticides than normal because of the jungle climate and hardiness of the pests. According to Continue reading →