Suti, Cotton

What’s else to talk about Cotton on my blog…

I guess that I should have discussed it way before since « Suti » means « Cotton » in Sanskrit language.

The Flower

Cotton is the most commonly used natural fiber due to his great softness and a high level of moisture absorption for clothing. Cotton is a soft fiber that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant. It is native of tropical and subtropical regions

Back to the History

Cotton is more than 6000 years old and been cultivated in India and on the continent of South America.  The industrial revolution really boosted the cotton manufacturing. The spinning jenny machine was invented in 1764 followed by the spinning frame in 1769 (see pictures below).

Spinning Jenny machine 

Spinning frame machine

The cotton gin machine helped later to get the clean cotton, without the seeds of the cotton flower. This invention is from 1794 in the US was fundamental for the mass production.

At this time, textile production became Britain’s leading export. Hence, Manchester was considered to the capital of the global cotton trade, nicknamed « cottonopolis ».

It is undeniable to talk about cotton without the manual work which involved a large number of slaves knowing that the cotton flowers were still hand-picked until 1950.

In todays’ world,  Cotton is about

  • One-third of all global raw cotton is traded internationally
  • production and export of cotton involves over 100 countries
  • Employs 350 million people in its farming, production, transportation, and manufacturing
  • China largest producer and consumer of raw cotton; supplements domestic production with imported raw material
  • India, Pakistan, and Turkey also supplement domestic raw cotton production to fulfill export of finished goods
  • The cotton belt (southern U.S.) is the second largest producer of raw cotton
  • The U.S. and Israel are the two highest-cost cotton producers
  • 100 million rural households around the world involved in cotton production

The process

Presenting about the cotton production process, the taple length, color, cleanliness and micronaire determine price of the final cotton.

Reading more about cotton, I came to know about…

The Cotton family with 7 sub-categories :

  • Egyptian cotton: only if extra-long staple Gossypium barbdensa or hirsutum species. It is very famous for the bedsheet.
  • Sea Island cotton (Gossypium barbdensa): anti-fungal properties.
  • Pima cotton (Gossypium barbdensa): Supima® 100% American-grown Pima cotton with guaranteed staple length (of more than 3.5 cm). Very famous for the Lacost polos.
  • Mercerized cotton which is more a treatment rendering yarn/fabric smooth and lustrous
  • Cotton lisle: similar to mercerized cotton in that all the lint is burnt off
  • Filo di Scozia®: top-grade two-ply, combed long-staple double mercerized
  • Cotton cupro: made from cellulose fibers from discarded lintners; cotton properties look and feel like silk

I couldn’t present as well the cotton fiber without talking about

Ecological and ethical concerns

There are no more secrets that cotton is quite a polluting plant. Well, we are billions on this planet and still need to wear clothes which are the most affordable and popular…since it can be mass produced.

So let’s remember that cotton production is a water-intensive business.

The global average water footprint of cotton fabric is 10,000 litres per kilogram. That means that one cotton shirt of 250 grams costs about 2500 liters. A pair of jeans of 800 grams will cost 8000 liters. On average, one-third of the water footprint of cotton is used because the crop has to be irrigated, contributing to water scarcity and the depletion of rivers and lakes.

For example, the water consumed to grow India’s cotton exports in 2013 would have been enough to supply 85% of the country’s 1.24 billion people with 100 liters of water every day for a year. Meanwhile, more than 100 million people in India didn’t have access to safe water.

By comparison, hemp only needs 2,000 liters of water per kg.

On the other side, Fair Trade Cotton & Organic cotton are being produced though taking more time to be produced.

More readings :

Ethical – Link 

Water Footprint Network – Link

Better Cotton Initiative – Link


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