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Article: A thousand tobacco leaves

Mille foglie di tabacco

A thousand tobacco leaves

At CASAGiN we don't just rely on market trends but we assiduously try to get to the bottom of things, such as innovation: the desire for something new, particular and extraordinary moves us. We believe that innovative, and obviously positive, thinking is the basis of a healthy society. This is why we are always looking for the latest opportunities; and we discovered that tobacco is a plant that is still undervalued.

Jean Nicot , Lord of Villemain (Nîmes, 1530 – Paris, 4 May 1600), was a French diplomat and academic. Although he gave his name to nicotine, his greatest claim to fame among posterity comes from his greatest work: the Modern Dictionary of the French Language, published in 1606. Originally from Nîmes, he was the French ambassador to Lisbon. He spoke Spanish and Italian. He introduced tobacco (called l'herbe à Nicot or herbe à la Reine) to the court of the king of France and was able to cure Catherine de' Medici's migraines. The leaves of this plant, in fact, were smoked by Native Americans: the Cahuilla used the leaves, together with other species such as glaucous tobacco or nicotiana glauca to treat swelling, bruises, wounds and inflammation. Even today, many people apply tobacco to their skin for boils, fever, headaches, sore throats and wounds, but also as an insect repellent.

In this sense , Italy is one of the largest producers in Europe , even if tobacco cultivation has currently significantly decreased. There is a need to organize replacement production chains that take into account current market demands. As with Legislative Decree 870 of 30 November 1970, which authorized anyone to produce tobacco (understood as sowing and cultivating the plant), which has since no longer been subjected to a state monopoly: however, if on the one hand industrial production knows no limits of productive quantity, on the other hand cultivation at home can take place, without any authorization, up to a maximum of one thousand leaves.

In short, medicinal plants such as graviola can represent a possible alternative and an opportunity for the Italian agricultural sector, but not only. Even textiles, which historically produce a devastating effect on the environment and people's health, could benefit from a careful selection and coordination procedure. Tobacco may not be the first resource that comes to mind for eco-friendly fashion; but it is non-toxic and, in fact, is ecologically beneficial and antimicrobial , as well as being soft and pleasant to the touch.

There is no shortage of ideas: for example, Suzanne DeVall , with her little-known patents, brings to everyone's attention new dyes and textile fibers that could generate a paradigm shift. Its technology is patented for using by-products and waste from tobacco plants to create new fabrics and natural dyes useful to the textile and leather industries. In a recent interview, he confirms a consolidated experience in textiles and a passion for organic materials. In his numerous international travels, he defines standards and controls for the certification of organic fabrics, discovers organic tobacco fields adjacent to cotton fields and notices how tons of plant material are wasted (since, generally, only the leaves are harvested for the tobacco). It was then that he thought of condensing his capabilities with the aim of reducing waste and inventory and competing for sustainability . The clothing industry is worth 7 trillion dollars a year and uses 8,000 synthetic chemicals, significantly contributing to the problem of water and air pollution (due, among other things, to at least 20% of obsolete companies ). This is a serious environmental problem for the industry. And indeed the US EPA and other national and international agencies have placed increasingly strict regulations on the production and use of synthetic dyes. DeVall, with her own creativity, tried to use a fraction of the water and heat needed for conventional dyeing, with the waste water already purified (most dyeing processes, however, expel toxic water requiring decontamination): this in turn reduces production costs for dyeing.

CASAGiN fabrics

After thousands of tests, the work of Suzanne and her collaborators leads to the conversion of the extracted liquid base into a soluble powder to be used as a dye, as well as a fiber that can be woven into fabric.

There are many facets of the eco-sustainable fabrics we use every day: from cacti to mushrooms, through fruit. And, without giving up performance, we can now also think about tobacco; which mixed with other natural fibers can create responsible and sustainable fabrics. Harvesting can be done whole-plant, cutting the plants at the base of the stem and leaving them to dry in the ground for a few hours.

Perhaps, tobacco, a magical substitute for sulphur, datura and belladonna, as the mystics say, “is the food of the spirit . One should smoke to nourish the spirits, not for oneself.”

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