Crop to Campus: College Students Explore How Cotton is Spun Responsibly


In the third episode of filmmaker Rod Murphy’s Crop to Campus minidocumentary, college students exploring environmentally responsible T-shirt manufacturing visit the US operations of a low-waste yarn-spinning facility in Tennessee.

Episodes of the seven-part documentary commissioned by HanesBrands follow three North Carolina State University students as they witness key aspects of a responsibly made T-shirt from the HanesComfortWash apparel line.

In episode 3, the Wilson College of Textiles students visit the Mountain City, Tennessee, yarn spinning plant of Parkdale Mills, a leading manufacturer of spun yarns. The all-questions-answered journey takes the students through the step-by-step development of sustainable fibres and yarns, an important process at the forefront of responsible apparel production and technical textile trends.

Parkdale Mills uses energy-efficient technologies and nonconventional methods to achieve low-waste, sustainable and cost-efficient yarn production on behalf of HanesBrands, a socially responsible leading marketer of everyday basic apparel, including T-shirts. As a zero-waste facility, all cotton by-products are recycled, reused or repurposed, including protein-rich cotton by-products that can be used as cattle feed.

“HanesBrands is continually striving to expand its use of sustainable materials in its products, including cotton yarns made from spinning technologies that require less energy to manufacture,” said Chris Fox, HanesBrands’ vice president of corporate social responsibility. “Reducing our environmental impact by carefully managing raw materials and by recycling waste is critically important given the scale of our operations. One focus is capturing waste and efficiently recycling it back into other apparel and non-apparel products.”

The company says it has more than a decade of experience in using recycled materials in its products and has fine-tuned manufacturing processes to incorporate recycled fibres without compromising on quality. Annually, Hanes products contain 6 million pounds of recycled materials.

Watch Episode 3 of Crop to Campus…

Crop to Campus Episode 3 from We Are Brandwear United on Vimeo.

Murphy, an award-winning filmmaker from Asheville, North Carolina, was commissioned by HanesBrands to make the documentary to assess how well the company’s corporate social responsibility efforts resonate with the expectations of millennials and Generation-Z youth.

Previous episodes

In previous episodes, the students – Mamie Trigg of Austin, Texas; Katy Powers of Charlotte, North Carolina; and Sydney Parker of Raleigh, North Carolina – have discussed what sustainability means to them and learned that responsible apparel manufacturing starts early in the production process when they visited the cotton fields of Grants Farm in Garysburg, North Carolina.

Students explore T-shirt sustainability in Crop to Campus documentary

Sustainable cotton farming showcased in Hanesbrands minidocumentary

Future episodes

In future Crop to Campus episodes, the students travel to El Salvador to visit communities that rely on responsible fabric production, and T-shirt sewing operations.

Sept. 29: El Salvador Production: Stitch by Stitch

Oct. 6: Community: It’s About the People

Oct. 13: Back to Campus: Tee Party

Oct. 20: Takeaways: How important is responsible manufacturing?

Image: Zach Brown, spinning department manager at Parkdale Mills in Mountain City, Tennessee, gives North Carolina State University students Katy Powers, Mamie Trigg and Sydney Parker a behind-the-scenes tour of a zero-waste yarn-spinning plant as part of the Crop to Campus documentary. © Business Wire.

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