Farm to fashion: How regenerative agriculture makes fashion sustainable
Here’s a new angle to slow fashion
Mar 28, 2019
Fashion and farming are more connected than most of us think. We always see livestock and food in farms, overlooking fields of fibers, fabric, and other kinds of textiles. So when we talk about slow or sustainable fashion, we don’t normally associate it with farming, the most important step in clothing manufacturing. And it’s about time we include this in our mindset.
Now, in an article on Fashionista, author Whitney Bauck says that the “next wave of sustainable fashion” is regenerative agriculture. It’s an ecological approach of farming that enables natural systems such as lands to be renewed and to renew themselves (since industrial farming has messed up most soil). It’s a way of farming that doesn’t harm the environment and that cares for the future—it regenerates and strengthens soil, increase biodiversity, improve water cycles, and generally enhances ecosystem services.
“It’s enabling and not dominating,” says Dr. Charles Massy, an expert in ecology and author of a book on the emergence of regenerative agriculture in Australia, in a TEDx Talk.
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“Industrial agriculture simplifies, dominates, controls, and ends up destroying natural systems and their cycles,” he says. “It’s driven by multinational companies that operate on an economic rationalist philosophy of growth and greed.”
Regenerative farming is like a more intense organic farming, in other words. It helps the ecosystem to self-organize back to healthy function. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all model. It allows farmers to be flexible according to their own individual environments.
Unlike industrial agriculture, the regenerative one refrains from monoculture cropping (meaning, regenerative agriculture champions rotating crops to optimize nutrients in the soil), the use of synthetic fertilizers, and manipulation of plant genomes.
The result is a healthy soil that makes plants more resilient to pests, making food crops more heavy in nutrients—consequently, it also results in higher-quality cotton and textiles.
Massy says that in Australia, there’s already a number of family farms that subscribe to regenerative agriculture. Clothing companies Patagonia, Kering, and Prana are also doing this.
It’s a fairly new concept and one that needs extensive research and funds, but we hope we witness more and bigger companies subscribe to this ethical kind of farming.
Featured image courtesy of Artificial Photography on Unsplash
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