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

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)

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.

You can keep up with us on Twitter and Instagram.

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Thanks for listening!

Ep. 58 – Questionable Inventions – The One-Man Climate Disaster and Period Underwear World Is Burning

This week we’re looking at inventions gone horribly wrong. Olivia tells the story of the “one-man climate disaster,” aka the wildly successful 20th-century inventor Thomas Midgley Jr., whose creations caused widespread lead-induced madness and the near destruction of the ozone layer. Thanks to a bit of showmanship and barely any regulations, his inventions ended up in everyday vehicles and homes for decades after his untimely death. Then, Elise digs into “forever chemicals” in period underwear, the little-known class-action lawsuit against Thinx underwear, and how to advocate for safer products. Other topics include ethical inventing, the lead-crime hypothesis, and what we’re listening to. Donate to abortion funds!  National Network of Abortion Funds Lilith Fund Yellow Hammer Fund 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. 58 – Questionable Inventions – The One-Man Climate Disaster and Period Underwear
  2. Ep. 57 – The Multiverse – Destroying Electric Cars and Healing the Ozone Hole
  3. World Is Burning Presents: Bottle Episode – Daiquiris and Digressions with Nick Dolan
  4. Ep. 56 – Earth Day and Greenwashing
  5. Ep. 55 – Botanical Sexism and Bed-Stuy's Tree Lady Hattie Carthan