How Soil Can Stop Climate Change and What’s Fashion Got To Do With It?

It’s easy to get sucked into the doldrums of fashion’s climate impact, so I find it crucial that we share solutions with reckless abandon when they surface.

For instance, I was recently introduced to the concept of regenerative organic agriculture. Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful. The technique suggests that with minimal tilling, cover crops, compost and crop rotation, we can actually sequester carbon in the soil at a rate faster than it’s being emitted into our atmosphere. I am not an expert on regenerative agriculture and there is some debate on how much and at what pace we can sequester carbon using this method, but there’s no doubt that this is yet another part of the solution. In fact, this practice suggests that we can not only undo the harm we have already caused, but improve our future by reintroducing organic matter in our topsoil and restoring biodiversity.

Several of the techniques for regenerative agriculture are already in practice in the organic farming world. For instance, because cotton is a seasonal crop, in the off-season, farmers grow legumes, maize, or groundnuts. Alternating crops revitalizes the soil, minimizes risk, and gives farmers multiple income streams. It’s no surprise how much the regenerative method embraces circularity, mirroring our industry’s latest efforts toward a cyclical and holistic approach to business.

We sleep on and in cotton sheets and pajamas. We wrap ourselves in cotton towels when we get out of the shower. Cotton and cotton blends make up a large part of our wardrobes today. The way we farm cotton matters. It impacts our industry, our health, and the people that make up our global community. Cotton farming is estimated to use 31.8 million hectares globally and makes up over a third of global fiber demand. Other natural fibers can benefit from regenerative organic farming practices as well: wool, leather, hemp, and flax (linen). The opportunity to solve problems by redesigning how we do business is clear. It won’t happen overnight, but awareness is key to action.

Stella McCartney’s SS18 collection that focussed on sustainability.

What do you know about how the fibers in your company are farmed? Have you ever met a large-scale fiber farmer? How can we get the word out to farmers worldwide about regenerative farming practices? Who might you share this article with that could impact your supply chain?

For more information on the benefits of regenerative agriculture, please visit Regeneration International and read this convincing white paper compiled by the Rodale Institute.

Title Photo by Trisha Downing on Unsplash
Alternative Text