Episode 30 – No Facts, No Information, Just Vibes: Cotton and Microfiber

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This week, we’re taking a closer look at the natural and synthetic materials you’re probably wearing right now.

How did cotton become the “fabric of our lives”? Elise explains the reasoning behind advertising a material rather than a brand, and tells us which policies we should be paying attention to in regard to cotton manufacturing.

Then Olivia takes on the massive (but nearly invisible) problem of the synthetic material industry: microfibers. 1.4 million trillion of them.

Other topics discussed: exciting life changes, the limits of individual action and systems-change advocacy, and TikTok Olivia Rodrigo theories.


Story #1: Cotton (Elise)
Cotton logo

Sources:
Farm Bill, USDA
Cotton Incorporated – Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Cotton Incorporated, Reference For Business
Those whimsical “Fabric of Our Lives” ads hide the ugly truth about cotton, Vox, Oct 2018
UNITED STATES: Cotton subsidies, New York Times, Nov 2007
DS267: United States — Subsidies on Upland Cotton, World Trade Organization, Oct 2014
America’s $24bn subsidy damages developing world cotton farmers, The Guardian, May 2011
Cotton Commercials: Do They Really Make You Want To Buy Cotton? (VIDEOS), Huffpost, Dec 2017
Cotton, WWF
The Impact of a Cotton T-Shirt, WWF, Jan 2013
Organic farming is actually worse for climate change than conventional farming, Quartz, July 2015
How sustainable is organic cotton, really?, Vogue, Oct 2019
Cotton Still the “Fabric of Our Lives” After 25 Years, Sourcing Journal, Dec 2014

This Huffpost article (also in sources) has a ton of videos!

How to Save a Planet, Farm Bill episode

Cotton commercial “Take Comfort in Cotton” from 1987.
Story #2: Microfibers and Synthetic Materials (Olivia)

Sources:
The Story of Microfibers, The Story of Stuff
You’ll Never Want to Buy Synthetic Clothing After Watching ‘The Story of Microfibers’, Treehugger, Oct 2018
Guppyfriend vs. Cora Ball for Reducing Microfiber Pollution, Earth Friendly Tips
Your Laundry Sheds Harmful Microfibers. Here’s What You Can Do About It., Katie Okamoto, New York Times, Apr 21 2021
Psst, do you know microfiber’s dirty little secret?, Ask Umbra, Grist

Check out both seasons of Trace Material to learn more about the social histories of hemp and plastic in the US.

Trailer for the upcoming season of Trace Material, launching June 16th.
Greenpeace UK Wasteminster: A Downing Street Disaster video.

You can sign The Story of Stuff’s Stop Plastic Microfiber Pollution petition now. It’s one step towards a systemic solution that puts the burden on clothing companies, not consumers. From the page:

Our bill requires clothing companies to attach a garment label informing consumers that laundering synthetic clothing in washing machines causes plastic fibers to shed. [If you live in California, click here to call your assemblymember to ask them to support AB 2379.]

The Dump

Elise got married!!! Please welcome our new official podcast husband Lan Tolleson to the stage 🙂

We also mentioned Search Party, Olivia Rodrigo’s new album Sour and some TikTok theories surrounding it, Greta Isaac’s EP Pessimist and Bo Burnham’s new Netflix special Inside.


The World Is Burning bookshop is live! Help us come up with book list titles and bulk up our reading list.

Our World is Burning themed playlist is on Spotify.

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Thanks for listening!

Ep. 43 – Carbon Footprints and Treehuggers – Climate Language World Is Burning

Did the fossil fuel industry really invent the carbon footprint? Did you know that the first "treehugger" came waaaay before the 1960s hippie, and took a much greater risk? This week we're talking about the language of climate change, specifically the carbon footprint and the term "treehugger." Olivia digs into the real story behind the corporate world's favorite unit of measurement, and whether it has any value in conversations today. Then Elise tells the story of the Bishnoi people and how the "treehugger" legacy echoes the stories of climate justice activists today. Subscribe/follow/press the button to keep up with new episodes every Wednesday! You can also follow us @worldisburnin on Instagram and Twitter, and check out our website worldisburning.com for extended show notes including sources and photos. World Is Burning is hosted by Olivia Hamilton and Elise Nye. Our theme music is by Kaycie Satterfield, and our logo was made by Sonja Katanic. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/worldisburning/message
  1. Ep. 43 – Carbon Footprints and Treehuggers – Climate Language
  2. Ep. 42 – What’s the Deal With COP26? A Brief History and What To Expect
  3. Ep. 41 – Imagining New Futures – Walkable Cities and Land Back
  4. Ep. 40 – The Bottle Episode – Milkmen and Plastic
  5. Down The Rabbit Hole Minisode 4: Golf