When folks go on about how the market is so efficient, it's hard not to point to the folly of a system that has us growing cotton in the United States, shipping it to China or other far-flung regions, having it manufactured into clothing products abroad, and then shipped back for our consumption. That's not efficient -- it's borderline stupid. Cotton of the Carolinas, an impressive coalition of manufacturers, cotton growers, and conscientious businessfolk, recognizes this absurdity. It has set aboutcreating a gloriously localized business agenda: Cotton is grown, made into clothing, and sold, all within a radius of a few hundred miles. The net impact? It's this: Jobs stay in the region, as opposed to being outsourced to cheaper labor markets (as has been the tale of American textiles over the last three decades). The environmental footprint is exponentially lightened -- cutting out a few shipping trips around the world will do that. And finally, in less quantifiable terms, it creates a stronger social foundation in the community. These are precisely the kinds of things that TS Designs, the t-shirt company behind Cotton of the Carolinas, put in its cross hairs when launching the initiative.
Eric Michel, the company's vice president of operation, tells CNN that
"Our shirts go from dirt to shirt in less than 700 miles. That's actually including roads and not as the bird flies."
TS Designs has three main objectives for Cotton of the Carolinas: to reduce the transportation footprint, to support jobs in North Carolina and to have a transparent supply chain. "We can build an entire supply chain here in North Carolina," Michel says.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that Cotton of the Carolinas has pushed for the opening of the first large-scale organic cotton farm in North Carolina? They have -- and TS Designs' shirts will be using certified organic cotton in its locally harvested, made, and sold products.
'Tis an inspiring story -- and one that employers keen on improving that triple bottom line should be eying closely.