Cleaned By Capitalism III

by Don Boudreaux on August 24, 2009

in Cleaned by Capitalism, Complexity & Emergence, Environment, Everyday Life

In his extraordinarily valuable 1998 book, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, Harvard economic historian David Landes notes the following (on page 154):

Indian cottons transformed the dress of Europe and its overseas offshoots. Lighter and cheaper than woolens, more decorative (by dyeing or printing), easier to clean and change, cotton was made for a new wide world.  Even in cold climes, the suitability of cotton for underwear transformed the standards of cleanliness, comfort, and health.  In the American plantations, it answered perfectly; as some Jamaica traders put it (1704): “… the said island being situated in a hot climate, much of the clothing of the inhabitants is stained callicoes, which being light and cheap and capable of often washing contributes very much to the keeping them clean and in health.”

Factory-woven cotton underwear….

… a major pollution fighter made possible by capitalism.

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