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Fabrics are made fundamentally from fibers.

Fabrics are made fundamentally from fibers. These fibers can be categorized simply as natural or synthetic and each fiber has its own characteristics and qualities. For example, cotton fibers produce a fabric that is breathable, while wool fibers create a warm cloth, but one that can be sensitive to heat.

Cotton is a prime example of a plant fiber. It has soft, ‘fluffy’ characteristics and grows around the seed of the cotton plant. These fibers are harvested from the plant, processed and then spun into cotton yarn. Cotton fibers are used to produce 40 per cent of the world’s textiles. Its enduring popularity is its extreme versatility

The longer the fiber, the stronger and better quality the fabric is, for example, Egyptian cotton. Cotton is mainly produced in the USA, China, the former Soviet Union, India, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Egypt and Turkey. In most cotton production, farmers use chemical fertilizers and pesticides on the soil and spray them on the plants in order to prevent disease, to improve the soil and to increase their harvest. Cotton has always been extremely prone to insect attack and since insects started building up immunity to pesticides, the situation has worsened.

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This means growers have increased their use of chemical pesticides simply to ensure crop survival. Cotton crops in India, America and China demand thousands of tones of pesticides, which are sprayed on fields from the air. This overuse of pesticides is rendering hundreds of acres of land infertile and contaminating drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that about 20,000 people die each year as a result of pesticide use

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