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Consumer Information  10/05/16 2:53:41 PM

Consumers often have questions about cotton. Here are a few of the more common questions we get from consumers followed by our answers.
  1. Is Georgia cotton production sustainable? Are my clothes sustainably made?
    1. Cotton production is sustainable. We have grown cotton in Georgia since 1733 and there are current farms with documented cotton production all the way back to the early 1800s. Both farmers and the textile industry have strived to continuously improve the sustainable practices used in the industry. See Cotton LEADS program for more info.
  2. Is cotton grown organically in Georgia? Are pesticides used?
    1. There are very few USDA certified organic cotton farms in the USA. Pesticides are used to protect the precious fiber from being destroyed by insects and diseases. While we do not consume the fruit of the cotton plant, the white fiber, insects do. By using technology and current plant protection methods we can insure a high quality cotton fiber without harming the environment.
  3. Why do my cotton t-shirts fade?
    1. Almost all cotton produced in the world is white. There are some experimental and natural cotton varieties that produce colored lint but they are not grown on a commercial scale. Therefore, cotton cloths must be dyed in order to obtain color. Dyes can consist of both natural and synthetic compounds. These dyes fade over time returning the cotton to its natural color.
  4. What are synthetic fibers?
    1. Synthetic fibers, or man-made fibers, are cloths that are not made from natural fibers like cotton or wool. Synthetics are generally derived from oil base chemicals and are created in factories by chemical reactions. Common products like polyester, rayon, nylon, and spandex are all synthetics and are therefore not natural products. Some new technologies have allowed textile mills to blend cotton with synthetic fibers creating the best of both worlds – comfort from cotton products and durability from synthetics. Products like Under Armour’s Charged Cotton or women’s jeggings are good examples. Keep in mind that synthetics are durable because of their inability to breakdown in the natural enviroment. Unlike synthetics, cotton fiber is biodegradeable. 
  5. Could I grow my own cotton and make my own clothes?
    1. Because of the price of modern equipment to farm, harvest, gin, and spin cotton into yarn, it is almost impossible to grow your own cotton to make into clothes. Each segment of the industry has become specialized in its own way to capture economies of scale and produce the highest quality cotton for the consumer. Farmers plant the cotton seed and raise the cotton all the way through harvest. Cotton gins remove the seeds from the lint. The lint then goes to a spinning mill to be spun into yarn. The yarn goes to a textile mill where the yarn is knitted or woven into fabrics. Then the fabric is turned into consumer goods such as clothes, sheets, towels, etc.
  6. Why are most of my clothes made in another country?
    1. Asia and South America currently manufacture the most textiles. This doesn’t mean that your clothes were grown in those regions. India, China, and the United States are currently the largest producers of raw cotton. Other places such as Mexico, Pakistan, Brazil, and Australia are also major cotton producers. The United States is currently the largest exporter of raw cotton. 
other links:
The Fabric of our Lives
Cotton Campus
Top 10 Consumer Questions about GMOs
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