Hard Times for Cotton
Conventional cotton farming is well known to consume large quantities of insecticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers. Despite this chemical onslaught (or perhaps because of it), America’s cotton fields are now being overrun by a plant called pigweed. Pigweed has traditionally been kept at bay by the application of a glyphosate herbicide known as Roundup. The problem today is that pigweed has become resistant to Roundup and is growing fast and furiously across the southern United States. The situation is dire and farmers are desperately struggling to save their crops. Pigweed is alleged to have initially become resistant to Roundup in 2006, but it was only this year that the impact has become widespread.
At the same time that pigweed is impacting U.S. cotton production, producers in China (the world’s largest producer of cotton) and Pakistan have suffered crop losses from heavy summer rains and flooding. To make matters worse, India has capped cotton exports. The result — combined with increasing demand for cotton — has caused global prices to take a large jump.
While consumers in the West will likely have to pay more for cotton clothing in the near future, the effects of these events will be felt more strongly in the developing world. All of this underscores the need to donate unwanted cotton garments for reuse for those who need them. You thereby ensure that the increasingly expensive resources (and impacts) used to produce the material are not needlessly being wasted by being sent to decay in a landfill.
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