What Does it Take?

Do you ever wonder how many cotton plants need to be harvested in order to make a single shirt? Or how much cotton that would amount to if all the strands were laid end to end? Here a couple of answers that might surprise you.

Peanut butter: peanuts, salt and maybe a pinch of sugar? But how many peanuts? In a regular 500g jar there are probably 720, all ground up and tasting delicious. And to make 1 kg of regular butter, the dairy kind, it takes about 21 litres of milk!

And if you don’t want to be reminded that your stomach is growling but there’s still half an hour until lunch did you know that it takes at least 2.5 gallons of oil to make a car tyre?

How about cotton?

Cotton grows in bolls, which is a protective case for the seeds of the plant. When cotton bolls are harvested they are first husked (removal of the fibres from the seed) and then carded and combed. After all the impurities are removed the residual fibres – which are typically around 2-3cm in length – are spun into yarn or thread. One cotton boll typicaly yields 4,000 fibres after combing, but because each fibre is only 10-20 micrometers in width (that’s 0.01-0.02mm) you need a lot of cotton to make anything!

It takes 2,700 litres of water and 225g of cotton to make a t-shirt.

Makes you think.


The peanuts are from Sanjay Acharya used and edited with thanks under a Creative Commons License and Mr. Peanut is in the public domain, taken from the United States Department of Agriculture.