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The Cotton Conundrum

| Written by ILSR Admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 17, 2012 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish, March 16, 2012

Pamela Ravasio wonders if we are designating our land resources appropriately:

[T]he plantations of the three largest cotton growers – the US, China and India – alone account for 50 million acres, 42% of all agricultural land. In contrast, food crops amount to some 40 million acres and fuel crops to 32 million acres. In other words: It is the ‘white gold’, cotton, not fuel, that is in direct competition with food.

A while back, Stacy Mitchell crunched some stark numbers on the cheap clothes that resulted from cheap cotton:

In the mid-1990s, the average American bought 28 items of clothing a year. Today, we buy 59 items. We also throw away an average of 83 pounds of textiles per person, mostly discarded apparel, each year. That’s four times as much as we did in 1980, according to an EPA analysis of municipal waste streams [pdf].

Read the full story here.

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