Many of the items we wear are made from cotton: tee-shirts, jeans, shirts, underwear, socks, jackets, can all be made from cotton as well as household items like bedsheets and towels. It is one of the most commonly used plant textile fibres grown on this planet.
Cotton is a very poplar fibre as it is durable (think denim jeans), moisture absorbent and smooth to the touch.
Cotton is not native to the UK. It is native to America, Africa and India. China is the largest producer, followed by America, India, Brazil, Australia and Uzebekistan. In Europe it is still commercially grown in Spain, Greece and Turkey.
Additionally some of the dyes used to colour cotton textiles pollute rivers and damage local eco systems.
Labour conditions in some factories are questionable.
25 million tonnes of cotton are produced annually.
Cotton is bought and sold by investors and price speculators on international stock exchanges. The power these markets hold can effect the choices farmers make as to whether or not to use pesticide to ensure a "good" crop - there are enormous pressures.
As a plant, cotton has a big but subtle impact on our daily lives. Where does the cotton you are wearing come from? Where has it been processed, dyed and constructed? What is the provenance of your clothing?
|A river polluted by textile dyes|
|A young victim of endosulfan|
Six boxes made out of recycled scaffold boards kindly donated by Mr. Scaffold in Peckham, London. Thankyou to Doug and Rupert for teaching me how to make the boxes really satisfying hands-on work. Your help is truly appreciated!
Cotton seedlings are "planted on" in a plant pot, so roots have a chance to develop and they can then more easily take up water from smaller area. The plastic on top of the compost is to keep compost moist so it doesn't dry out.
The cotton boxes are situated in the lower greenhouse in Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses in front of the Siberian lotus plants and the rice paddy.
The wooden boxes are lined with plastic compost bags, so the watering doesn't rot the wood and they can be used again next year. The boxes have no bottoms and the compost goes directly onto the concrete floor.