Jones steps onto a platform and has his measurements taken with a laser scanner. A computer compares the current data with the data registered from earlier visits. “Just a bit wider around the hips,” says Erikson with a smile. Then the two men choose a color from a table of more than a hundred shades and decide on the desired type of cloth. Jones chooses a lightweight cotton that will be appropriate for the Nigerian climate.
Six weeks earlier, Buthan Singh stood in his cotton field in the state of Punjab in India, checking to see whether his crop was ready for picking. “We should start the first harvest in two days,” said his foreman. Singh does not use fully automated harvesting methods. Instead, he picks his cotton according to the individual plants’ degree of maturity. That results in much higher quality and earns him good prices on the world market. The farm has been owned by Singh and his ancestors for five generations, but only in the past 20 years have Singh and his family been able to make a good living from cotton cultivation. That’s because during this period the government’s subsidies for agricultural produce have been gradually reduced and almost entirely abolished.
Singh sells his harvests via an automatic raw materials exchange. An English weaving mill that specializes in high-quality suit fabrics has bought the first batch. The mill’s customers consider not only price and quality important; they also look to see how sustainably the cotton was produced. This information reaches the end customer by means of product tracking software that works with smart RFID labels. Customers need this information in order to know how much a purchase adds to their personal emissions’ account.