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The next step in sustainability: regenerative clothes

The next step in sustainability: regenerative clothes
By Gaia Rattazzi

The fashion industry has been deeply criticized for its flawed and continuous pursuit of infinite economic growth. The need to reverse its effects on people and the planet has become inevitable. Regenerative fashion aims to restore the connection to the earth that we have lost track of, in order to make fashion not only sustainable, […]

The fashion industry has been deeply criticized for its flawed and continuous pursuit of infinite economic growth. The need to reverse its effects on people and the planet has become inevitable.

Regenerative fashion aims to restore the connection to the earth that we have lost track of, in order to make fashion not only sustainable, but climate positive. The basics of regenerative fashion come from indigenous ecological knowledge which are often erased in the conversation around sustainability but are the source of our knowledge on this topic.

Image: Goat Organic Apparel

Why regenerative products should be normalised?

The fashion industry’s links to soils are many, from the overgrazing of pastures through cashmere goats and sheep raised for wool that often cause soil degradation, to the deforestation that takes place in order to produce fibers like rayon, to cotton which uses a sheer amount of pesticides and insecticides that not only eliminate unwanted species but cause a general decline in biodiversity and when washed off pollute waterways which many depend on as a source of drinking water.

We’re often disconnected from these phenomena when we buy clothes, but how soil is managed has a big role to play in making the fashion industry more sustainable. You might argue that the root of these problems is the sheer scale of the industry, and you would be right, slowing down the pace of production is necessary, but regenerative fashion provides a good solution. 

Image: Regenerative cotton pilot project – Büyük Menderes Basin, Turkey.

What are the regenerative solutions in fashion?

Instead of just sustaining nature’s cycles, regenerative farming practices aim to improve the health of the land and environment, restoring soils and reversing global warming. Regenerative farming, which mimics the earth’s natural rhythms, provides benefits such as increased biodiversity, healthier soils, improvements in the water cycle and increased carbon sequestration.

Fashion industry staples like leather and wool could be made regenerative through techniques like regenerative cattle grazing, where farmers manage their cattle mimicking the natural movements of herds, letting them graze just the right amount to promote healthy cycles of plant growth.

Techniques like intercropping are also an example of regenerative farming where different crops are planted close together reducing the need for pesticides if certain plants that naturally repel pests are included in the mix. And as different plants contribute different nutrients to the soil, the diverse planting makes the earth richer, and all the plants stronger, if techniques like this were to be widely adopted, we would see huge benefits in terms of soil health and carbon sequestration. 

A brand that’s experimenting with regenerative fashion is Patagonia, check out their regenerative collection here. 

Image: Pangaia

brands=pangaia+goat-organic-apparel&categories=hoodies+t-shirts&values=organic+recycled

Through regenerative farming, crop resilience can be improved, which in turn, improves a farm’s profitability and does good to soils.

Soils are currently storing less carbon that they should, carbon that’s in excess in the atmosphere. Soils have the ability to sequester more than 10% of manmade carbon emissions (and the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of those) but despite being right under our noses, their huge potential has been ignored.

It’s time to put into practice indigenous ecological knowledge for healthier soils and a better planet. To stay up to date with the latest developments in regenerative fashion, become a Renoon member

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