Don’t have a cow, please

As more and more people are exposed to the facts about cotton farming, like the fact that it’s the most pesticide- and herbicide-intensive crop on the planet, we see more and more alternative clothing fibers cropping up. But King Cotton – the fabrication of our lives – clings tightly to its stranglehold on the international textile industry.

When we launched the original HempShak in 1994, we could see that it was going to be an uphill battle against monopolies and misinformation. In those 15 years, the hemp industry has grown incrementally, despite the fiber’s long litany of advantages. The crop remains impeded by a century of propaganda and draconian prohibition.

But the field of alternative fibers is spreading. Today we enjoy a wide array of organic cotton products and a burgeoning wardrobe of superlatively renewable, surprisingly affordable and incredibly comfortable bamboo. Still, it’s not easy for these cottage industries to butt heads with cotton.

Now, there’s finally an industry with enough muscle to challenge king cotton. Got milk? That’s right, now they’re making clothing from fiber spun from milk. Yes, probably the only sector of the agriculture industry that can rival cotton for its environmental devastation: dairy.

Unlike hemp and bamboo, milk is deeply entrenched in the fabric of our society. Consider the overwhelmingly effective and persuasive “Got Milk” campaign. Yet the genuine health hazards of milk consumption and the environmental (not to mention humanitarian) ramifications posed by dairy farming are enough to tie your intestines in a square knot (metaphorically speaking, of course). July’s issue of Good Housekeeping features a milk-fiber t-shirt for $110. It will be interesting to see where this all leads.

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