Sally Fox: History Of Cotton Tour

The Legendary Sally Fox

Anyone interested in organic farming, sustainability or environmentalism needs to know the name "Sally Fox" of Foxfibre®. For anyone into organic cotton or healthy clothes, you already know that all roads lead to Sally. For decades, Sally Fox has been THE color cotton breeder. Her story is one of legend - she was a true visionary, she stood up against one of the fiercest industries and she continues to pursue her work - all while remaining under the radar. As you may have noticed, there is not all that much information about Sally on the internet. 

color cotton

Color Grown Cotton

To make a long story short - Sally has been developing different varieties of naturally colored cotton for decades. Most commercial varieties of cotton are white. But cotton also naturally grows in various shades of green and brown. Why is this so important? The process of dyeing clothes is incredibly destructive and toxic for people and the environment. For example: when a t-shirt is dyed black, there are countless toxic chemicals used to make that black color. Clothing companies are not required to label those chemicals and so we are unknowingly absorbing excessive amounts of toxic chemicals directly onto our bodies and into our water supply. These chemicals include formaldehyde, known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and more. For more information, check out our page on Toxin Free Clothing or the Greenpeace Campaign: Detox Fashion. When cotton is grown to naturally be colorful, we do not need these harsh chemical dyes. 

The Tour: History of Cotton and American Manufacturing

Sally is offering cotton tours on her farm, personally led by Sally herself. Harvest & Mill attended the tour on September 10th. Sally walked us through the history of cotton and cotton breeding, literally and figuratively. Sally has planted original Sea Island varieties of cotton and subsequent hybrids. It is awesome to see the actual cotton plants and to hear Sally explain the history and biology of each different variety and hybrid. 

On the tour, Sally also explained that in the 80's and 90's American manufacturing mills did not exactly "move to China or Southeast Asia". In fact, they went out of business. As environmental regulations began to take affect in the USA, clothing companies realized they could produce and dye clothing in regions that effectively had no environmental regulations. The cost of proper chemical monitoring and clean-up in the USA was more than the actual cost of the dyes. So clothing companies moved to the developing regions where they did not have to pay these high clean-up and monitoring costs. American mills went out of business because they could not compete with mills in regions that had so few environmental regulations. 

Whether you are interested in fashion, biology, sustainability or American manufacturing - check out Sally's cotton tour or donate to her cotton breeding program!

The next tours are October 15 and October 30.