According to The National Cotton Council of America, the U.S. cotton industry has suffered severe economic setbacks from lowered prices arising from increased global production of the natural fiber. Climate change and the unpredictable inclement weather nationwide has also affected the wildly vacillating production of pounds of cotton per acre, making for unstable pricing per bale from year to year. Additionally, the removal of quotas has created a highly competitive global market. Sustainability must also be considered when it takes over 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton T-shirt alone. Perhaps we are witnessing the unravelling of a historically contentious and ecologically unsound crop.
Ironically, we are also witnessing the rise of a grassroots cottage industry that seems to be booming where the cotton industry first took foothold in the U.S. during the early days of slavery – navel lint-wear. Fueled by rising unemployment and discontent with the current administration in the White House, white Southerners are gathering their rosebuds and collecting their belly button lint for a resilient recycled thread. The accumulation of the fluffy fibers from the navels of couch potatoes from Maryland to Texas are being collected and reworked into a cost-effective and ecologically friendly cloth. Since dead skin cells or collagen are also included in the mix of belly button lint, a curiously stronger thread – not unlike a 50-50 polyester thread – is being produced for pennies a bale. Some reports claim that highly hirsute southern males are able to produce over 6 mg of lint hourly. Gossypium aside, this booming industry may be providing the funds that bank-roll the Teabagger Movement nationwide. Contemplate that!
New technologies for extracting navel lint also increases capital for the booming industry.
Gossypium hirsutum – Wikipedia