Topics: Cotton, Agriculture, Water resources Pages: 11 (3112 words) Published: August 25, 2013


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Full Name: Priscilla Tong Rui Qi

Gender: F

E-mail Address: priscillatrq@gmail.com

TTH Chapter: NUS

TTH Cycle (Fall-Winter or Spring-Summer) and Year: Spring-Summer 2012


Graduating Class: NUS

Major(s)/Minor(s): Environmental Studies


Priscilla Tong Rui Qi, Environmental Studies, Environmental Geography major. Cotton use is so widespread but little is known about its harm caused to the environment.


Pull Quote Requests (Copy and paste requested article quotations below) 1. “Cotton farming has been labelled as one of agriculture’s most environmentally destructive activities”

2. “The production of enough cotton for a simple shirt and a pair of jeans can use more than 20,000 litres of water.”

3. “Organic cotton farming has been heralded as one of the most promising solutions to address the problems of conventional cotton”

4. “Its destructive practices and the measures taken to reduce negative impacts need to be re-examined.”


Article Title
The Problem with Your Clothes:

Examining the sustainability of cotton production practices

Abstract (250-word limit)

The sustainability of cotton production is called into question as current production practices exert a strain on the environment and are a threat to human health. This is due to the large amounts of water and chemicals required during the growing, manufacturing and processing stages. Hence, it has been labeled as one of agriculture’s most environmentally destructive activities [1]. Large requirements of water on cotton fields imposed by dam and irrigation systems has resulted in numerous environmental problems such as waterlogging, salinization of soil, depletion of water resources and desertification. In the process, ecosystems are threatened and wildlife severely affected. High chemical use also kills wildlife and poses a risk to humans through direct exposure or through contaminated drinking water sources. Transgenic cotton has been introduced as a measure to reduce heavy chemical application but is itself fraught with problems for the environment and human health. Organic cotton is suggested as the better alternative to reducing both water and chemical demands. The role of everyone involved in the cotton value chain, from farmers to manufacturers to consumers, is discussed. Only with the active involvement of all players can there be an environmentally sustainable, socially responsible, and at the same time, profitable cotton industry.

Abstract Word Count: 203

Abstract References

1. Sustainable Cotton Project. [homepage on the Internet]. 2011 [cited 2011 Sep 19]. Available from: http://www.sustainablecotton.org/html/cotton.html


Flip the label of any shirt in your closet and chances are you will find cotton listed as a large percentage of the material used in its manufacture. Cotton is used in more than half of the world’s fibers to make clothes and garments. Yet not enough attention is paid to the environmental, social, and economic impacts of this extensively-grown crop. Cotton farming has been labeled as one of agriculture’s most environmentally destructive activities due to the massive amounts of pesticides and water it requires [1]. Cotton covers only two and half percent of the world's cultivated land, yet uses up to a quarter of the world's insecticides; this is more than any other single crop [2]. Against this backdrop, cotton farming is severely threatening the environment. The challenge for today’s consumerist world is to find environmentally sustainable ways to farm cotton.

Problems with high water demand

As cotton is a heavily...
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