Fashion, like most other industries, leaves behind a carbon footprint on the environment, causing a negative impact. This happens through many processes involved in producing goods, one of them being agriculture. About 27 million tons of cotton, which is one of the most common fabrics used in fashion, are produced a year. According to the Cotton Corporation of India, India has about 12.5 million hectares to 13.0 million hectares under cotton cultivation, making it about 41 per cent of the world area under cotton cultivation.
So how does growing ANY crop become harmful?
Conventional farming practices cause soil disruption, high CO2 emissions, water pollution as well as excessive use of water. However, an eco-friendlier alternative, regenerative agriculture, is meant to solve all these problems in natural ways.
What Is Regenerative Farming Or Agriculture?
Regenerative farming or regenerative agriculture follows a rehabilitative approach towards farming practices in order to restore soil and water quality, reduce emissions, and thus, reverse climate change. Let’s look at what regenerative farming practices entail.
Crop Rotation & Intercropping
Crop rotation involves growing different kinds of crops on the same plot in different seasons as opposed to just one type of crop every season in the same plot. Intercropping means growing two or more crops in the same plot at the same time. This leads to a more efficient usage of soil and natural resources, protection of the cash crop, and prevention of soil erosion.
As a part of regenerative agriculture, cover crops are planted during harvesting of the main crop in order to slow erosion, enhance soil health, increase water availability, as well as help control pests and diseases.
Conventional farming involves deep-tilling, which means digging up the soil deep to plan seeds. In contrast to this, regenerative farming involves a no-till or low-till approach. In simpler terms, seeds are planted without digging up the soil, thus avoiding soil disruption.
Minimised Chemical Use
This means very minimal use of agrochemicals or pesticides, thus limiting the amount of toxins that enter the ecosystem. Regenerative farming also makes use of compost rather than conventional fertilizer to enhance yield quality or growth.
How Is Fashion Involved?
French-based luxury goods company, Kering, which includes brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and many more, has invested in regenerative farming. Kering and Conservation International launched the Regenerative Fund for Nature earlier this year to promote a transition from conventional to regenerative practices for about 1,000,000 hectares of crop and rangelands.
Under American brand Patagonia’s regenerative pilot program, the brand sources its cotton from more than 150 Indian farms that are working toward Regenerative Organic Certification. The brand has launched a series of t-shirts made using the same cotton.
USA-based label Christy Dawn has started the farm-to closet initiative, under which it has partnered with Oshadi Collective, a community of traditional farmers and craftspeople in Tamil Nadu, India, to restore a depleted plot of land by growing cotton using regenerative techniques.