In 2009, National Geographic Kids Magazine participants set a Guinness world record for collecting the most clothing to be recycled — 33,088 pieces, which were contributed to the denim insulation program.

“This has been an excellent call-to-action program that allows people to get involved in a worthwhile consumer sustainability initiative,” Robb says.

Anyone wishing to participate can ship jeans or any denim apparel items, in any condition, color, or size, to Cotton From Blue to Green Recycling Program, 431 N. 47th Ave., Phoenix AZ 85043.

In other campus-related promotions, Cotton Incorporated has a website that is an educational resource for parents, teachers, or anyone wanting to obtain and share information about cotton. “There’s a wealth of information on the site (http://cottoncampus.org/) and it’s all free,” Robb says.

Today, cotton is not just a crop that provides fiber, it also can be used in food items, he notes.

Highlighting the work of Tom Wedegaertner, director of cottonseed research and marketing for Cotton Incorporated, a line of flavor-infused cottonseed oils has been introduced.

The oils — with flavors ranging from Jalapeno-Lime to Hot Habanero to Curry Spice, Fresh Cilantro, Sweet Guajillo Pepper, Smoky Chipotle, Fresh Roasted Garlic, Fried Shallot, and Pure Cottonseed Oil — are an outgrowth of research aimed at adding value and opening new markets for cotton and cotton products.

“The oils, which are wonderful for sautéing and seasoning, were created by Acala Farms, an Illinois winery and bottling company,” Robb says. “They were featured in this year’s Fancy Foods Show in New York and were very popular. (Info and ordering at http://www.acala-farms.com/)

“Their acceptance continues to grow, particularly in the agriculture community, and the Plains Cotton Growers Association has announced that the oils will soon be on store shelves in the Lubbock, Texas area.”

Cottonseed oils are heart-healthy — zero cholesterol and zero trans-fats — have a high smoke point, exhibit intense flavors with no oil-taste halo, and “they’re just plain fun to use,” Robb says.

Cottonseed oil was first bottled in the United States in 1882, shortly after Eli Whitney developed the cotton gin. By 1899, Wesson Oil, developed by Chemist David Wesson of the Southern Oil Company, had found its way to general store shelves as the first commercially available all-vegetable shortening. In 1911 Crisco, an acronym for Crystallized Cottonseed Oil, was released, solidifying cottonseed oil’s place in American kitchens.

“Cotton has always been grown and regulated as a food crop in the United States,” Robb notes. “And cottonseed oil has long been a staple ingredient in common food products — from mayonnaise and salad dressings to ice cream, hot dogs and potato chips.”

More food uses have been opened up with the development of cotton varieties that have been bred to eliminate gossypol from the seeds while retaining natural pester-deterrent characteristics.