Corporate sustainability initiatives and how they affect climate change have been major talking points in the apparel industry as consumers become increasingly aware of how products they choose impact the health of the environment.
An initiative you may have seen or heard leading the headlines lately is regenerative agriculture - a movement global fashion houses and brands are investing in as an effort to further reduce their environmenta limpact.
What is regenerative agriculture?
“We believe it’s not enough to be sustainable. By definition, the word sustainable means to maintain the status quo, whereas we know that we have a real job to do in order to regenerate our soil”, Jo Dawson, Chairman H.Dawson, HD® Wool ApparelInsulation and Regenerative Agriculture Advocate.
The Savory Institute, a global movement with a mission to facilitate large scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands and the livelihoods of their inhabitants through holistic management, states regenerative agriculture repairs damage that humans have done to the earth and makes thingsbetter. It builds soil fertility, sequesters carbon, improves watersheds, and supports biodiversity by properly managing livestock on the grasslands of the world.
Sequestering carbon in soil is a natural way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with fewer impacts on land and water, less need for energy, and lower costs. Better land management and agricultural practices can enhance the ability of soil to store carbon and help reverse global warming.
Understanding that verifiable outcomes are necessary to confirm that regeneration is indeed taking place, The Savory Institute developed Land to Market, the world’s first regenerative sourcing solution that confirms annual improvements through its world-leading Ecological Outcome Verification system. Land to Market works directly with farmers, ranchers and other raw material producers to use an outcome-based approach backed by empirical science to measure the health of ecosystemprocesses so it can verify regenerative outcomes on the land.
“We believe the Savory framework is really important as it teaches farmers how to manage within a complex holistic context,” said Dawson. “Farmers are managing the complexity of running a business while trying to support nature and the environment at the same time. By farming regeneratively,they are working to improve the biodiversity within a farming context; to improve the soil quality, root growth, as well as improve the water cycle on the farm. This latter point ensures that any rainwater that does land on the farm is actually absorbed into the soil which ensures plant performance as well as resilience during dry periods.”
HD® Wool Apparel Insulation and Regenerative Agriculture
In December 2020, HD® Wool Apparel Insulation partnered with the Savory Institute to bring Land to Market verified regenerative wool to brands and manufacturers across the global wool trade. It is the first model of regenerative British wool which is committed to supporting producers with anew route to market, whilst providing brands with regenerative sourcing solutions and consumers with dynamic buying choices.
Through its partnership with the Savory Institute, the HD® Wool Apparel Insulation team has found a means of doing exactly that – the ability to link the farmer and the end consumer in a meaningful way. The next step is to strengthen this link in order to support more farmers to convert their farming to Regenerative Agriculture practices through the use of Holistic Management techniques. Ultimately, the company is aiming to deliver further positive change by scaling the business and the number of farms that are able to encourage to make this essential transition.
“Regenerative agriculture is a journey,” said Dawson. “It’s not something you can snap your fingers and say you can change overnight. It’s nerve wrecking for farmers to say they are no longer going to put artificial fertilizer on their land since they’ve been doing this for the last 10 years or 20 years’. They are going through the thought process as to how they are going to manage their farms in the future without artificial inputs. Historically, many farmers have been obliged to remove people from the land because they were unable to pay them, but the holistic management framework is quite clever – it helps to reduce unnecessary costs such as pesticides or fertilizers, and then allows theactivity of bringing more people back onto the land which will ultimately recreate and support rural communities.”