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Growing cotton provides livelihoods for an estimated 100 million households in as many as 85 countries. But adverse global market conditions, volatility, and reliance on large doses of water, fertilizer, and pesticides impose considerable social and environmental costs.
For more than 50 years, global production of plastic has continued to rise. Recovery and recycling, however, remain insufficient, and millions of tons of plastics end up in landfills and oceans each year.
In wealthy countries, paper is so ubiquitous that it comes in seemingly endless numbers of grades, types, shapes, and colors and is used for both mundane and highly specialized purposes. Too often, paper products are discarded soon after their purchase, and only a portion is recovered for recycling.