Monday, March 7, 2016

One Bale of Cotton

by Amy Sarkissian

Driving through the cotton belt during harvest season is always a treat. Fields of soft, white cotton seem to go on for miles. For a lot of people who have never seen a cotton field, they’re amazed at how the fields look almost as if they’re completely covered in snow when the crop is ready for harvest. Cotton is an old crop, and cotton is a commodity crop here in the United States. Although once grown predominately in the southern states, cotton is now grown as far north as Kansas and as far west as California.

Cotton is also a pretty remarkable crop. I never knew all of the ways that this simple, white fiber could be used. For example, if we look at one bale of cotton, which is roughly 500 pounds of raw cotton lint, you can produce an almost unbelievable amount of finished products.

Let’s break down that one bale of cotton:

  • With one bale of cotton, you can make approximately 800 men’s dress shirts, or approximately 325 pairs of men’s jeans.
  • With one bale of cotton, you can make approximately 850 women’s blouses or shirts, or approximately 350 knit or woven dresses.
  • With one bale of cotton, you can make approximately 1,200 pillowcases.
  • And how about those personal care items we all enjoy using as consumers? You can make approximately three thousand diapers from one bale of cotton. Yes, three thousand. 
Aside from the products we wear and consume, cotton is also something we come in contact with almost every single day. You may even have some in your wallet right now…that’s right! Our “paper” currency is made of a cotton and linen blend, and one bale of cotton yields approximately 313,600 $100 bills. Cotton is a fiber that is rich… in history and uses!