Thursday 13 December 2012

Smoking Out A New Use For Tobacco

Recent legislation in Australia that's likely to be copied across the planet shows the humble cigarette to be an increasingly endangered species. As branding on fag packets devolves into a simple brand name teamed with a big, full colour picture of a seeping, tar-filled lung, you have to wonder whether the tobacco industry has a future at all.

Ploughboy Organics thinks that it does, although not in the way you'd think. The company, based in North Carolina, has found that there's a heck of a lot more that you can do with the tocacco plant then dry the leaves and smoke them. The stalks, once considered to be field waste, produce durable, sustainable fibres that can produce an antimicrobial fabric. Use it by itself, or team it with other organic fibres like wool or even nettle for a real mix of looks and feels.

That's not all. The plant can also provide dyes that are non-toxic, and use less water and lower temperatures to fix, reducing environmental impact. The colours are strikingly vibrant, from an eye-pinging cyan to a rich burgundy hue they call Carnelian.

Basically, what we have here is a breakthrough that converts one our great evils into a renewable, sustainable resource. If everything that Ploughboy and its CEO Susanne DeVall is true, then tobacco could render the Greenpeace Detox agreement to be pointless. This, from Ploughboy's latest press release:

"The company’s goal is to produce low cost organic dyes and fiber for the global marketplace utilizing raw materials that are free from chemical agents and pesticides — which negatively impact our environment. An overriding philosophy for the organization is the commitment to sustainable agricultural practices and responsible manufacturing processes from the field to the finished product."
Sounds pretty good, huh? At the moment, Ploughboy are keeping their cards close to their chest in regards to what these processes might actually be. I hope that there's not an announcement of hoax waiting in the wings. But if not, then this is another example of an alternative fibre that could transform not just the apparal industry, but the way we look at the production of fabric on a worldwide scale. Ploughboy are thinking big, and their excitement is palpable.

Why smoke it when you can wear it?

For more, get over to the Ploughboy Organic site.

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