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change or might change so that we can-you can do what you do and it would be cheaper? Or is that fantasy?
Mr. IMHOFF. Are you talking to me? Well, I think there are numerous ways that you can help.
In particular, I find that most people don't make the connection between textiles and agriculture, and that most of our fabrics and most of our textiles start with some sort of agriculture. At Esprit, we can purchase cotton. We can educate customers about the importance of purchasing organic cotton and why it cost more.
But we can't really help the farmer-we need the cotton to be cheaper all the time, so there have to be other people out there which are making it much easier to grow cotton organically, or there have to be incentives for cotton farmers to make this important shift.
But it goes all the way throughout our manufacturing processes. Esprit doesn't own factories that do particular processes. They always go to one factory or another in order to assemble a garment. And so, working with those respective industries that are involved in textile production would essentially help us achieve our goal as well.
Mr. VALENTINE. Can you direct our attention to any government agency or entity which was particularly helpful in the process which led to where you are today in your company?
Mr. IMHOFF. I am sorry but I can't. We pretty much had to do this on our own.
Mr. VALENTINE. Dr. Nair, let me ask you, what if any curriculum development assistance or incentives are needed, in your opinion, to help universities integrate life-cycle methodologies and other environmental elements into required design casework, or course work, so that it reaches across all engineering and technical disciplines?
Ms. NAIR. I guess we could be directing an initiative, say, as part of National Science Foundation, one of the programs in undergraduate science, engineering, math education, that is actually calling for an RFP calling for this kind of-this type of course development.
But maybe an even more desirable instrument might be to encourage in the asking for proposals that environment be a concern. Not necessarily uniformly, but environment be a concern that reflects itself throughout the curriculum. Because I think if you look at not only technical courses but in all courses one can incorporate environment, and I think it's as important that we incorporate environmental concerns into the technical curriculum as into the business curriculum, for example.
There is only one course I know of that teaches sustainable development in a business school and it's at New York University, NYU-S. I suddenly forget the name of the faculty, but he has developed a course on sustainable development for the business school in the MBA program.
So the government, I think through its because a lot of it would depend heavily, the research universities especially, for course development funding as well, and a big initiative at the National Science Foundation is course development. And I think by explic
itly using environment as a criterion and judgment in evaluation of proposals, et cetera.
Mr. VALENTINE. Do you have any required courses in environmental design, environmental engineering or environmental studies?
Ms. NAIR. No, we don't have any required courses. We do have, we have requirements if you are already-if you take a minor, obviously, in environmental studies, but we do not have a requirement at this point.
Mr. VALENTINE. Well, I want to ask Mr. Buzzelli a question too, and then I would like to yield to the others who are here so they can have time to participate.
I would like to ask this question of all of you if you-is this an area that the Federal Government needs to change its way of looking at the problem or the situation, do anything that is drastically different in a revolutionary way, or is it an area that needs to be at this stage left primarily up to private enterprise and private initiative and academia?
Mr. BUZZELLI. I guess, if I could start, I can say I think there's a couple of areas where the Federal Government could play an increasing role. First of all, I think if you stand back and look at where most people in the world think we are heading most of the serious environmental organizations that I work with really realize that environmental technology is going to have to be employed to lead us to where we want to ultimately be, and we just simply aren't going to get there completely with conservation and resource conservation practices that individuals can employ.
So, I would just encourage this committee and any member or part of the government to try to draw a special focus onto the development of environmental enabling technologies. As we think about technology and technology development in this country, that we put a particular focus at least on the environmental enabling technology. Because in many cases some of the advances that we are making need some seed money. They need some seeds to be able to ultimately come to fruition.
A good example, in my opinion, is in the plastics area. Initially, when we first started talking about recycling plastics, the technology wasn't there and also the infrastructure wasn't there to be able to collect plastics and do it in an economical fashion. We still can't do it in all cases, but in some cases today we can do that.
We have now seen recycled plastics being used in the manufacture of automobiles, VHS cassettes, et cetera, and an awful lot of that took an investment in some enabling technology, not an ongoing subsidy. Just an investment in enabling technology.
So I would just encourage all of the agencies and departments of government to focus on that enabling technology and make sure that it is funded.
Mr. IMHOFF. Identify a certain number of industries which are really sort of on the leading edge and get them together and have these conferences where a lot of information is exchanged, and it could be compiled and then made available to industries like ours. Because really there isn't anything written down. You have to go find out yourself.
So making information available to designers so that they can make their choices in the very beginning, not at the end of pipe. Source reduction from the design point of view I think could be very powerful and useful, and perhaps the government could fulfill a role there.
Revolutionary, I like that word. Well, revolutionary things might have to happen, and I have two ideas on that. And it may be an unthinkable thought right now, and I don't want to say that Esprit would be, you know, innocent of this idea, which is, should pollution be legal? Should toxics be legal? And I think, at some point along the line, maybe 10 years, maybe 20 years from now, there may be a huge debate about that.
Should we put should we be able to produce biocides? I think that this may someday need to be addressed and this is a revolutionary concept.
But in the meantime maybe what could happen is a new campaign. When I was young we learned about Smokey the Bear and No Littering those were huge campaigns. Give a hoot, don't pollute. They affected me as a kid. I don't throw stuff out the window. I don't play with matches in the forest, and I go there quite a bit. Mr. VALENTINE. Since Smokey, all that campaign, we have decided that in many areas a good forest fire is very helpful.
Mr. IMHOFF. Well, that's a long-term ecological debate.
Mr. VALENTINE. I don't mean where there are houses necessarily. [Laughter].
Mr. IMHOFF. Perhaps a campaign about responsible consumption. Perhaps a campaign about learning about what you buy before you buy it and that buying is kind of a form of voting, of affirmation.
Mr. VALENTINE. Well, I tell you what. This old fogey thinks you are exactly right. I mean I think that we have to have that type of, really, if we in my judgment, if we ever really do anything that is meaningful and affects everybody in society from top to bottom. We have got to look at the business of what is legal and what isn't legal.
A great and magnificent contributing American corporation like Dow couldn't function, I think, in a society unless the government required its competitors to do the same thing it does. You got two companies side by side 20 years ago doing roughly the same thing, and one of them can serve mankind by putting scrubbers on its smokestack. Is he going to do it will his stockholders, that company's stockholders tolerate that expenditure if his neighbor isn't spending that much money. I mean your competitor is not spending that much money. The government has got to say you will do these things, and maybe we will come to a time when the government will say you can't use that. You cannot use that product.
Mr. IMHOFF. I have one more thing to add. That maybe the White House could set an example by the way it runs its daily operations and its energy and water consumption. I think that that would be a powerful statement to the common people.
Mr. VALENTINE. I think it would too. You speak to them next week. They are on Cloud Nine down there now about what happened last night. They are busy celebrating.
Mr. IMHOFF. They are in Mexico.
Mr. VALENTINE. Mr. Bartlett, the gentleman from Maryland.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you very much.
I really want to commend you as witnesses. I have sat in a number of hearings here and I think this is the panel which has least asked for a bigger space at the public trough, and I just want to commend you for that. Because most of the solution-and it is just amazing to me that the kind of organizations and people that will muzzle up to the trough if you make something available for them there.
And I want to commend you for your recommendations. I have listened and I don't think one of you has recommended that the solution to this problem is more feeding at the public trough.
I like to base my approach to problems on the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson, a Democrat, and Abe Lincoln, a Republican. Thomas Jefferson, you remember, said that the government which governs best is the government which governs least. And Abe Lincoln said, I think as well, that government should only do for its people what they cannot do for themselves. And so I am just very pleased that you see the role of government as something other than providing a public trough for people to feed at.
And I wonder how much government can be effective. Let me give you one area in which government has been very effective, and that is in humane slaughter. And they were very effective there because the government simply said that we won't buy meats from slaughterhouses that do not use humane slaughter techniques. And since government is big-I think it needs to be much smaller, but as long as it's big we may as well exploit the advantages of being big.
How much effectiveness do you think the government would have if it just said those things which we buy we are only going to buy if they do the kinds of things you are doing in your textiles and so forth? And, you know, if that is the only thing government will buy everyone who competes for that will be competing on a level playing field. And once they are tooled up to do this thing for government they may find it more effective to make their product for the commercial market that same way. How effective do you think government might be in being responsible and requiring a green technology in the things that the government buys?
Mr. IMHOFF. I think that depends on how competitive your suppliers are, and I am sure that they are pretty competitive. And when at least from the case of Esprit, which isn't a huge company, but it does have a voice, and when it says it wants all recycled paper for its one million catalogs, or however many it produces, the industry listens. So I am sure that if the government said that they wanted treeless paper in a certain amount of time people would start to figure it out, considering how much you use. Mr. VALENTINE. Well, if the gentleman would yield, let me ask him how that, the government purchasing materials that the testimony shows would cost more, how does that jibe with the political position-conservative philosophy of we spend less money?
Mr. BARTLETT. The conservative philosophy also includes conservation, and I think that conservatives are those who really want to conserve. The words have the same root, don't they?
I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions about the cost, the extra cost of doing things organic and so forth. We have sheep and
I sell wool, and now you are lucky to get 50 cents a pound for wool. A carpet, a 32-ounce carpet, you only get about a half a pound of wool from a pound of fleece because you have got to scour it and take out the lanolin and stuff like that.
But even so, it takes 4 pounds of raw wool now at 50 cents a pound to produce a 32-ounce yard of carpet, which means that even if the orlon or nylon were free, and it's not free, the wool carpet should cost only $2 more per yard than a conventional carpet, and that just isn't true. A wool carpet costs twice as much. I am not sure why.
Wheat brings $6 a bushel roughly. That is 10 cents a pound. A loaf of bread has about a half a pound. If you dried it down about half of it's water. Has about half a pound of wheat in it. That's about 5 cents worth of wheat in a loaf of bread. So, if you grew wheat organically and doubled its cost, you have done almost nothing to the cost-5 cents-to the cost of a loaf of bread.
The cotton that you use in your garments, I suspect that you double the price of the cotton that you buy because it's organically grown. That doesn't do much to the price of your product, does it?
Mr. IMHOFF. That's a good question. It does actually, but that'sit's also because we are trying to eliminate steps along the way. You know, we go out of our way not to use resin and formaldehyde and other things. However, this is a start-up business, and in 3 years we are making great strides.
The first answer to that question I think is that in the beginning it's going to be more costly and only a few people are going to support it. We make some decisions we don't like, but to be competitive on a big scale, let's say with organic cotton, we ship it to Ĥungary where it's produced off-shore where our labor cost is more competitive than it is in the United States, and then we can bring our product to the market at a pretty good price.
As time goes on, I really believe that producing in an environmentally sound way is going to be just as cost effective. And cotton producers are showing that now, if you look at their costs. But it is an opportunistic market, and, unfortunately, for a company like Esprit it's a sellers' market right now. There's not enough cotton. The demand is too high for the organic cotton. There's not enough supply. So that the price is quite high.
The more competition that enters the market, and I think that this is going to speak to government buying of supplies, is that there is just not enough competition yet. And, for example, after World War II the cotton production was geared sort of towards a warfare philosophy. A lot of these pesticides were developed in chemical laboratories in World War II. That is when agriculture became big, that is when the airplanes really got into agriculture, when the huge pickers got into agriculture, and there was about 50 years there where they were really gearing, or they still are, agriculture towards this type of industrial philosophy.
Now, the sustainable farmers are starting to figure new things out. They need new types of pickers. They need new types of gins. They need actually new breeds of cotton with maybe a shorter lifespan. And 10 years down the road I think that these things are going to come in very cost effectively, and what's great to see is to talk to an organic farmer who says, "Workers love to come to my