In September, I was lucky to be on a panel speaking at a Carbon Farm Tour. It was held at the Little Creek Farm in upstate NY where the alpaca from out Sweatshirt Sweater comes from. The panel included inspiring women from different aspects of the industry, Jessica Schreiber from Fab Scrap, Dana Davis from Mara Hoffman, Meris Butler from Borobabi, Abigail George-Erickson from Eileen Fisher Renew and Jessica Corr from Plia Home.
On the tour, we learned about how certain farming practices can improve the soil health. The fact that Alpacas roam the land, is a cute benefit but the real work lies beneath the grass and Alpacas help the cause. The grass needs to get long so that the roots can grow deep, Alpacas don’t eat a lot of the grass or mow it down as much as some other animals like horses. They have softer pads on their feet than most other animals, so they are gentle to the land they graze on.
Composting and allowing the land to have areas of wild plants are one of the most beneficial aspects to the land. This allows pollinators to do their job and creates a healthy ecosystem.
stages of compost
It was a day to explore the interconnections between the soil, animals and textiles and the positive impact all three can have on climate.
On the panel we discussed climate beneficial yarn, responsible and domestic textile sourcing and soil to soil textile systems. There were a lot of questions about how there’s a growing demand for policy change to regulate the industry and false claims of sustainability. There’s a lack of standards and companies can easily exaggerate the truth through cleaver marketing. It feels confusing and frustrating for brands, stores and consumers. Using a GOTS certified fabric is great, but that doesn’t speak to the rest of the supply chain, or tell the whole story of a garment or a company. You need to dig a little deeper to understand a brand’s motivations and reasoning behind their decisions. We talked about the challenges of working within a domestic supply chain, specifically with wool yarn. The industry was traditionally built for big business and didn’t want to bend to accommodate anything different than the usual or small scale. We are all making strides to change this in our own way, by pushing the mills, the factories and by creating demand for these products. It’s very expensive to produce domestically but we all agree that this is incredibly important work that warrants the cost, it’s up to us to educate our consumers and to explain what goes into the cost of a garment.
We talked a lot about circular products, being aware of the full lifecycle of what you’re producing, and being responsible for that lifecycle. A lot of this referred to synthetics and elastane, how do we manage these indestructible fibers?
We talked about the challenges of consumerism, how we will always be a society of consumers so how do we design for a more sustainable world? We need to design with the full product supply chain and lifecycle in mind. We need to do our best to do a little better each day, each year, and to inspire our customers to chose products from companies that take the time for these considerations.
Working with these farms and showcasing the beautiful yarn that comes from these them is one of our ways to make strides forward and we can't wait to share the sweaters with you next week. There is so much more to these sweaters than a product.