Is Cotton an Environmentally Friendly Choice?

July 24, 2018 11:28 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Cotton is the largest natural fiber supplying the global demand for textile products, and Texas is the number one producer in the U.S. West Texas is especially important to cotton production, with recent crops being record-breakers. Cotton is an important part of environmentally friendly clothing. The main alternatives to cotton are non-renewable chemical fibers. Here’s a closer look at how cotton in West Texas and beyond is a viable and environmentally sound choice:

  • Cotton is biodegradable: Cotton is sustainable, renewable and biodegradable. It’s an excellent choice for environmentally friendly fiber throughout its entire product life cycle. Cotton is a safe and easy choice, especially compared to the other options. Most chemical fibers are petroleum based, meaning they come from non-renewable resources.
  • Pesticides need not apply: Cotton farmers in West Texas will tell you cotton doesn’t require as much pesticide as some people believe. For every pound of cotton, about 0.09 ounces of pesticides are used. That’s not a lot. New technology is also helping to reduce the number of pesticide applications in the U.S. Cotton farmers have every personal and economic incentive to use fewer chemicals while growing cotton. Cotton is also regulated as a food crop by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning there are tight restrictions about any pesticide residue remaining on the raw fiber or clothing made with the cotton in West Texas.
  • Watering cotton: While the current drought has cotton farmers in West Texas worried, cotton is very drought and heat-tolerant. Cotton uses less water than many other major crops produced in this country. Farmers are also using better technology and more efficient techniques when keeping their crops watered. Only 35 percent of U.S. cotton requires some form of irrigation, and compared to 25 years ago, U.S. farmers are using 45 percent less irrigation water to grow a pound of cotton.
  • Organic option: Organic cotton is another viable sustainable alternative. The U.S. has strict standards for organic cotton, and it’s not easy to become a certified organic cotton operation. Interest in organic cotton in West Texas is growing, but the organic cotton supply isn’t. Organic cotton accounts for only about 0.55 percent of the global cotton production. Organic farming usually means more expensive production costs. At this time, the benefits don’t outweigh the extra costs, but there is some interest in moving in the direction of more organic cotton farming operations.
  • Already environmentally friendly: New technology is already helping cotton become even more environmentally friendly. Cotton is now grown in insect-resistant and drought-resistant varieties. These same varieties are improving yields, which cotton farmers in West Texas can attest to with their recent record-breaking crop. Cotton also benefits from the conservation tillage practices put in place about 20 years ago, leading to less erosion and runoff.

M.B. McKee Company, Inc. has been serving the cotton farmers of West Texas for more than 70 years. We’re locally owned and family operated. Our knowledgeable staff can answer any questions you may have and will walk you through our wide selection of services and products. Give us a call or stop in today to learn more.

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