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Regenerative wool could make fashion more sustainable.

Textile Raw materials market
Fashion brands are looking for a fabric with full sustainability credentials. They look for a fabric that stands up to scrutiny, not only on carbon emissions but also the on impact it has on biodiversity, pollution, recyclability, and the communities producing it.

Two friends scrutinized fibers from cashmere to pineapple skin before establishing their production capacity. But in most cases how these materials were produced raised concerns. Bamboo for instance biodegradable, but goes through intensive chemical manufacturing processes. Pineapple production uses large amounts of agrochemicals and is usually grown in monoculture.

They surprisingly found sheep wool –one of the most ancient fibers that were near to an environment-friendly fabric. It was found that sheep grazing is a regenerative approach that seeks to replicate what happens in the wild, where animals roam as they graze to find new sources of food and avoid predators, allowing grasslands to heal.

They established Sheep Inc, which they claim to be the world’s first “carbon-negative” fashion brand. The London-based brand factors farming (including methane, sheep farming’s main source of emissions), manufacturing, packaging, and transport into its analysis, according to a report from independent certifiers, Carbon Footprint. However, this figure doesn’t include home energy emissions from the team’s remote working nor other digital emissions, although these would likely be low compared to emissions from farming wool.

Sheep Inc’s methods to keep its environmental impact low include using solar-powered knitting machines, sorting clothes in a solar-powered warehouse, and a plastic-free supply chain. Customers can also return items to Sheep Inc for mending and repair.

Wool is viewed as somewhat of a wonder fabric in the fashion industry because it is harder than most fibers, requires less washing, and is recyclable. When wool returns to soil or water, it biodegrades, unlike petroleum-based fabrics such as polyester. This makes it a strong contender for sustainable clothing that lasts consumers decades.

Conventional wool production however is not fully climate-friendly; sheep emit methane, which is 28-36 times more potent than CO2. Conventional wool farming houses set stock grazing, where animals sit in the same paddocks for long periods which can lead to desertification, biodiversity loss, and soil erosion.
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