Chris Wood in Miller-McCune:
That “all-natural” cotton T-shirt in your closet? The one with the eco-friendly message brightly printed on the front? Ounce for ounce, it could be the most environmentally toxic item of clothing you own. From the water and agrichemicals lavished on cotton grown in some of the world's driest regions (approximately one-third of the pesticide and fertilizer produced worldwide gets sprayed or dusted on cotton), through multihued rivers of waste streaming from textile mills to landfills bulging with castoff clothing, the life cycle of the humble cotton tee has left ecological wreckage in its wake.
As both the world's leading producer and biggest importer of raw cotton and its top exporter of cotton fabrics and apparel, China has experienced much of the damage.