At the start of this research, I was fully intending to use organic cotton fabric for the woven bases of my Nuno felts. Then I read – cover to cover – Second Skin by India Flint (ISBN 174196721X) and it started me thinking.Cotton – including organic cotton – uses more water than almost any other textile source and is grown in places that can barely afford the loss of water. In response to this, there is such a thing as low-water cotton so clearly if there is a low-water cotton then a not-low-water cotton must be pretty thirsty. In terms of land use it is pretty intensive, needing 2.5 acres to grow a ton of cotton. (Ref: Natural Resources Defence Council)
On top of that, all of our cotton comes from a long way away – it needs much hotter weather to grow than anything we can offer in northern Europe.
A further woe to report is that although organic cotton removes the chemical damage potential for the cotton workers, the fibres are so fine that when exposed in quantity and over a period of time workers can develop significant lung problems. Obviously the better growers will be dealing with this risk, but even so it has put a question mark above the product for me on this project.
So what to do? I think I have a plan. More thinking first and then I shall reveal …