• Darby Hemp

How The Rise in Radicalism and Your Clothes Are Connected

Delve into how the rise in global radicalism and your clothes are connected, and what’s currently developing in America which could change everything.


Introduction

Have you noticed how various forms of radicalism seem to be rising and intensifying in tandem with environmental stress?


As earth’s ecosystems are put under swelling strain, we experience a corresponding loss in human rights and personal freedoms; an erosion in our senses of safety, security and stability; a growing totalitarian-style crackdown on free speech and press.


Connections between radicalism and environmental catastrophe are near everywhere one could cast their gaze.


More recently to when this article's being written, whether we inspect the spread of extreme leftism/rightism in America producing a complete disunion of government paralleled amidst the people, socioeconomic fallout in South America, the burning of Notre Dame surrounded by ongoing civil strife throughout Europe, horrific bombings in Sri Lanka, or another round of military strikes riddling the Middle East...once we claw our way down through the muck to root causes we’ll inevitably encounter biospheric stress playing pivotal roles.


And no, I’m not referring to conversational ‘climate change’, but rather, the objective impacts human systems are having on the natural world.

Consider: Between the years 1900 and 2000 our human population sprinted from roughly 1.6 to 7.7 billion, when it took over 100,000 years to reach one billion around the turn of the 19th century. By itself this should be an incredibly positive development because we’re an amazing species capable of incredible and magnificent wonders yet to be explored, our cultures rich and thriving (despite the best efforts of globalism)...

However, the majority of our large corporate and multinational supply chains are ecologically abhorrent.


Let’s just look at clothing.

“By 2030, there will be 5.4 billion people in the global middle class, up from 3 billion in 2015. We can expect increased demand for clothes and other goods that define middle-income lifestyles. If consumption continues at its current rate, we’ll need three times as many natural resources by 2050 compared to what we used in 2000.” [1]

You might be thinking, “Three times as many natural resources by 2050 JUST for the middle class in conjunction with more population growth, why, that’s impossible!


Now, close those deep-beautiful eyes of yours for a couple seconds and try to stretch your being out across the planet - FEEL the intense volcanic pressure this is manifesting throughout every level of human society...and yes we’re just discussing clothing for the global middle class.


That’s not accounting for the poor, wealthy, or so-called elite.

Let’s take a quick gander what average clothes are:

  • Pants: Made in China - 75% cotton, 22% polyester, 3% elastane.

  • Hoodie: Made in China - 100% polyester.

  • Shirt: Made in India - 100% cotton.

  • Boxer Briefs: Made in Thailand - 80% polyester, 20% spandex with an 82%/18% polyester-spandex mesh.

Wait a sec, Amerca’s the 3rd largest cotton producer, why aren’t more shirts being made much closer to home? Hmm, it seems to be because our manufacturing base was wiped out and we’re exporting it to first Vietnam, then China, Pakistan, Indonesia...


See, even if we wanted to, we're’m unable to escape this clothing-matrix because of sheer economic realities put in place to support a massive web of unsustainable systems and supply chains. It’s largely an invisible orchestration to American consumers because we don’t work in textile manufacturing or the cotton industry.


Again, America is one of the Big 3 cotton producing nations of earth, but globally there are at least 35-40 million hectares under cultivation. This nightmarish agricultural apparatus every year consumes and utilizes unfathomable amounts of insecticides, herbicides, fresh water, not to mention GMO cotton seed heavily dependent on glyphosate, and synthetic fertilizers.

“Conventionally grown cotton requires the heavy use of synthetic fertilizers. Such concentrated application means much of it ends up in waterways, creating one of the worst nutrient pollution problems globally, upending aquatic communities and leading to dead zones starved of oxygen and devoid of aquatic life. In addition, synthetic fertilizers contribute an important quantity of greenhouse gases during their production and use.” [2].

All this cotton! Most of it being consumed by the fashion industry, itself dominated by a relatively small lineup of mega-corporations. Are you and I responsible for this, or victims? We’ll talk about a recent development bringing hope to the situation momentarily, but here’s where we’re at relative to clothing,

“The apparel and footwear industries together accounted for more than 8 percent of global climate impacts -- the equivalent of 3,990 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2016, according to a report from Quantis. Total greenhouse gas emissions related to textiles production are equal to 1.2 billion tons annually -- more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping trips combined, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.” [3]

We don’t physically see unprecedented and widespread levels of microfiber/microplastic pollution or its compounding environmental stress which translates into all walks of life.


We don’t see the unthinkable and immoral concentration of power, money and political influence - but we’re watching it become increasingly radical for its very survival.

“One of the biggest issues with the fashion industry is the use of plastics in garments. Synthetic materials such as nylon, polyester and acrylic are used in over 60 percent of clothing. Plastics are used in fashion because they are long-lasting, budget-friendly, pliable and light. The problem with incorporating synthetics in the production of clothing is that they leach plastic microfibers into the environment. These microfibers eventually make their way to the ocean…” [4]

We aren’t readily made aware of the billions upon billions of tons of soot and toxic byproducts coming from textile factories (separate from cotton farming or petroleum-based fiber production) largely focused in you guessed it... China and India.

“In search of greater profits most manufacturing is now undertaken in China and India, where labor costs are lower, coal-fired power plants predominate, GGEs are highest and, in many cases, employee rights are non-existent... Textile mills are estimated to generate 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution and use 20,000 chemicals, many of them carcinogenic”. [5]

As Americans we shouldn't dictate to the Chinese or Indian people, or really any other country for that matter how they should clean up their supply chains...let’s focus on what’s happening stateside.

Enter The 2018 Farm Bill

Did you know the recent 2018 Farm Bill put an end to domestic industrial hemp farming prohibition in America? Yes! While the bill’s passage doesn’t enjoy limelight attention like say, the Mueller Report, it’s arguably the most positive environmental-human development of the last 300 years.


Why?


Because industrial hemp as a source of fiber can EASILY revolutionize our global clothing industry (not to mention help address the U.N. 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) by replacing cotton and synthetic or petroleum-based fibers.


This has been known for a while, but now it’s actually within reach.


Here’s a few well-established facts regarding hemp vs. cotton for fiber (we can also farm it for nutritious amino acid and protein-rich hemp seed, and hurd as well):

  • Hemp produces twice as much fiber as cotton per acre; requires half the land to produced finished end-product textiles.

  • Hemp requires water as well, but it’s more drought resistant and generally requires far less under normal conditions.

“It can take more than 5,000 gallons of water to produce 2 pounds of cotton, the equivalent of a single T-shirt and pair of jeans...cotton is heavily irrigated and is depleting our limited freshwater sources....studies show hemp farming uses considerably less water... The Stockholm Environment Institute analyzed the UK production of cotton vs. hemp and found that one grow used an estimated 10,000 liters of water to produce 1kg of cotton compared to about 300-500 liters of water to produce 1kg of dry hemp matter.” [6]
  • Hemp returns 60% of the nutrients it uses to the soil, whereas inorganic cotton production leaves the land scorched by chemicals - accounting for roughly a quarter of all pesticide usage worldwide.

  • Hemp can be grown for fiber in the same soil for over a decade without depleting soil or showing yield reduction.

  • Hemp fiber crops require little pesticides or herbicides thanks to the way it grows, producing a thick upper canopy.

  • Hemp fiber is up to four-times as durable as cotton, it’s anti-bacterial, breathes, absorbs moisture well, and offers a natural UV protectant. Cotton simply can’t compete in these areas.

When we start on the farming level, the upstream impacts on clothing supply chains is exponentially positive. There’s no need to worry about all these millions of people around the globe losing their jobs, they’ll just be involved with growing and processing a different plant for its superior fiber. In adapting, technical constraints could be overcome for a fraction of the status quo costs and largely correct negative ecological impacts which are harder to calculate because they’re...so...massive.


Things get really interesting when you account for the fact leftover hemp biomass could be harnessed as a clean carbon-neutral energy source to power good portions of the supply chain.


What We Can Do - Transform the Cotton Belt

Now that industrial hemp farming is legal in America, we need the people of Cotton Belt states to start putting pressure on politicians as well as their large cotton producers to begin a substantial transition into hemp. It’s going to require capital investment, innovation, and serious political influence to accomplish this feat but it must be done.

“Cotton Belt, Agricultural region of the southeastern U.S. where cotton is the main cash crop. Once confined to the pre-Civil War South, the Cotton Belt was pushed west after the war. Today it extends primarily through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, Louisiana, eastern Texas, and southern Oklahoma.” [7]

If this is you, check on your state’s current hemp farming situation and if hemp fiber fields aren’t being planted yet, see what if anything you might be able to do to help. We need the ‘Cotton to Hemp’ campaign in this region to take off in the exact same way it went from ‘Hemp to Cotton’ long ago.


For this to happen we need production. We need decorticators in these states ASAP that can effectively transform all the beautiful golden-green hemp into processed fiber. And hey, it’s not the late 19th century anymore.


With expediency and public interest this is a small undertaking.


If we begin transitioning from cotton to hemp in the cotton belt while supplying the farming and processing equipment needed, a more ecofriendly hemp-based manufacturing base will arise.


Build a Hemp Clothing Manufacturing Base

From stem to spun, we’re not talking rocket science.


Over the last few years a small handful of people in a small handful of states have been experimenting with and building new hemp fiber farming/harvesting equipment. Some is uniquely-designed, while a lot is modified from equipment used on other crops.


A company by the name of BastCore is a perfect example.

“BastCore buys hemp stalks and sells fiber products, bridging the gap between farmers growing hemp and industries demanding cost competitive sustainably produced raw materials...Bastcore's technology is more efficient than any competitive product in the market. Our proprietary innovation is called a decorticator [meaning they designed their own version; decorticators were first created in 1861 by a farmer named Bernagozzi from Bologna]. This specialized machine separates the outer bark of bast fiber from the inner core wood that naturally occurs in hemp stalks. Separation is accomplished in a single high throughput pass rather than multiple stages, while minimizing fiber damage.” [8]

In November, 2017 FiberShed published a highly-visual story on the company with tons of photos of their machines I’ve noted in references. Check it out to see what just this one company is doing with such a limited domestic market.

“The largest machine, taking up half the building, is loud, with pipes leading in multiple directions. It takes the straw-like hemp and spits out, almost as if by some sort of Dr. Seuss-like magic, a fine, fluffy fiber that loosely resembles the “straw” going in, but has taken on a totally different form...It’s here where the excitement really begins to build as others in the hemp community dream about end uses for the fiber, from clothing to building materials and everything in between.” [9]

From farming to initial processing into raw fibers all of kinds and onwards into textile manufacturing operations where again, no one needs to lose their jobs. The U.S. textile industry as of 2018 employed close to 600,000 Americans, where according to U.S. government estimates one textile manufacturing job supports three other jobs [10].


What we’re doing is simply transitioning into harnessing hemp which will not only increase production, but lower our negative environmental input by orders of magnitude while likely providing hundreds of thousands if not millions more jobs across America.


From here, the impacts on the rest of the world are too vast to try and entertain in this article.


Support Domestic Hemp Supply Chains

Hopefully we’ve done an adequate job reinforcing the need to evolve our clothing supply chains, and introduced you to the very real development in the U.S. relating to industrial hemp farming. In our hearts, based on our collective perspective, radicalism will lesson by a little bit for every acre of hemp fiber crop planted and harvested.


Together we CAN revolutionize the supply chains that dictate our consumptive habits, and through this effort truly make the future much brighter for all life.


Thanks for listening.




References

[1] “The Apparel Industry’s Environmental Impact in 6 Graphics” Deborah Drew and Genevieve Yehounme, World Resources Institute, 07/05/2017.

[2] “The Environmental Costs of Cotton” Frederic Beaudry, ThoughtCo, 05/11/2018.

[3] “Fashion industry's carbon impact bigger than airline industry's” Megan Cerullo, CBS News, Money Watch, 04/19/2019.

[4] “The environmental secrets the fashion industry does not want you to know” Perry Miller, Inhabitat, 03/25/2019

[5] “Consuming stuff: The polluting world of fashion” Graham Peebles, NationofChange Op-Ed, 04/23/2019.

[6] “Hemp vs. Cotton: 3 Reasons Why Cotton Is Not King (and Why Hemp Should Be)” Kentucky Hempsters, Leafly, 10/08/2015.

[7] Encyclopedia Britannica entry for ‘Cotton Belt’

[8] http://www.BastCore.com/

[9] “A New Breed of Fiber Mill: BastCore Hemp Processing” Maddy Bartsch, Fibershed, 11/01/2017.

[10] “U.S. Textile Industry” National Council of Textile Organizations

What's Darby Hemp About?

Human societies are only as strong as their resources. Our platform is inspired by the desire to support a resurgent American hemp industry - its people, its economic impacts, its environmental promises.

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