TS Designs and Solid State Clothing have launched the 10,000 Pounds of Cotton project to put power back in the hands of farmers and consumers, and rebuild the American cotton supply chain to be local, resilient, and increasingly better for the soil.
In 1994, NAFTA went into effect and the US textile industry collapsed as cheaper clothing was imported from overseas. Most US cotton was put on ships and sent to China, India, and other countries to be sewn into clothes and shipped back to the US to be sold as cheaply as possible. US apparel companies like TS Designs lost most of their employees as a result.
In an effort to rebuild the connections between local farmers and apparel companies, Eric Henry—president of TS Designs—has committed to purchasing 10,000 pounds of cotton from Andrew Burleson, a third-generation farmer in North Carolina. That is enough for 15,000 t-shirts that will be spun in the same state it was harvested. The project is the beginning of a future where apparel companies can be closely connected to the cotton farmers they source from, creating healthier soil, fair-wage jobs, and resilient local economies.
Burleson's cotton is grown using some important regenerative practices, such as no-till and cover-cropping methods. These practices help improve soil health, which sequesters carbon and ultimately plays a part in reducing the impacts of climate change. Additionally, partnering with Burleson ensures the project is localized and that the revenue circulates within the community.
"Our philosophy is to work with local farmers because we believe we can have the most positive influence by working in our own communities," says Courtney Lockemer, brand manager for Solid State Clothing. "We believe in meeting farmers where they are and supporting them so they can get to a place where they can grow in a way that best supports both the environment and their livelihoods."
Consumers that supported the project are called “shareholders”—essentially, by purchasing a “share” of the cotton, they are investing in improving the American cotton supply chain. Investors will get a t-shirt made from that cotton as well as behind-the-scenes looks at how cotton is spun into clothing and virtual sessions with experts in sustainable farming and fashion. Brands can also join in and purchase shares wholesale for custom printing and private label.
"We're committed to transparency and inviting consumers to meet our supply chain and be a part of the conversation," says Lockemer.
TS Designs is a longtime Green Business Network member and a leader among sustainable apparel print companies. It is located in North Carolina. Learn about becoming a Green Business Network member and connecting with leaders in your industry today.
For more information on regenerative farming we offer the following Green America articles: What is Regenerative Agriculture, Farming to Reverse Climate Change & Regenerative Agriculture. Green America's long-term goal is agriculture production that is regenerative and meets the USDA organic standard, the best way to achieve this is through the Regenerative Organic Certification. Green America supports all farms reducing chemical inputs and enhancing soil preservation techniques to move closer to those twin goals.