World Environment Day 2020
As we welcome another World Environment Day into a year that looks a lot different than the last, we should all be thinking about what we can do, in this new way of life, to encourage the sustainable stewardship of nature. The fashion industry has a significant role to play in this, from farms and manufacturing right through to transport, retail environments and the fibres we choose to invest in. Every decision we make impacts nature and this is no different when it comes to the cashmere industry and the cashmere we choose to buy.
Cashmere comes from nature. It’s a natural fibre and grows best in environments where nature is raw and untamed. In its truest form, the cashmere that’s combed from the bellies of goats is a far cry from the sumptuous knits and wovens we wrap ourselves during winter. Like the habitat it needs to grow, raw cashmere is messy and without uniform and it takes a lot of craft, time, skill and resources to transform it into the clothes we all enjoy wearing. However, because of this, we need to be extra careful about where we buy our cashmere from. Irresponsible production of the fibre has led to some significant environmental challenges in the native grasslands of cashmere goats and it’s never been more important for us to educate ourselves on how best we can shop for cashmere in a way that is both environmentally sustainable and ethically sound.
- Begg & Co are a member of the Sustainable Fibre Alliance. While I have discussed the SFA in previous entries, for World Environment Day, I felt it necessary to reiterate their role and importance. The SFA work to encourage and ensure better sustainability in Mongolian cashmere farming. Not only do they work to restore Mongolian grasslands damaged from a mixture of overgrazing and climate change, they work with cashmere herders to ensure pastures are sustainably maintained for future use. When shopping for cashmere, head over to the SFA’s website to see whether the brand you're buying from is a part of the SFA and are investing in the sustainable future of the sector. See their website >
- Buy cashmere from the experts. The UK’s cashmere industry is over 200 years old with a particularly rich heritage across Scotland and Yorkshire. Begg & Co has been at the forefront of Scottish cashmere since 1866 and continues to invest in authentic craftsmanship and design. By choosing to spend more and buy less with businesses such as Begg & Co, not only are you investing in the UK’s long-standing textile heritage, you’re investing in businesses who operate with the quality and sustainable longevity of cashmere at the heart of what they do. During such times of economic instability, it’s particularly important to invest in businesses who invest in the environment.
- Look after what you already have. As with other industries in fashion, it’s our dependence on new ‘stuff’ that is draining our natural resources and destroying our environment. As Begg & Co uses solely Mongolian cashmere, it’s the degradation of Mongolian grasslands due to this dependence that we really need to focus on. As well as ensuring you shop with SFA members who work hard to prevent such impacts, looking after what you already have, buying less and buying well, though simple, can really make a difference. Instead of chucking cashmere to the back of your wardrobe over summer, store it safely away to protect it from moths and invest in a ‘debobbler’ machine to remove bobbles that naturally occur from wear. Trust me, your cashmere will be good as new!
- Similar to the previous point, wash your cashmere the right way. Washing on cool is not only good for energy consumption and efficiency, it’s also imperative for the longevity of your cashmere. Handwashing is preferable and make sure you use cashmere specific detergent… You might not think it, but the right soap is extremely important.
When it comes to clothes I think it’s quite easy to forget that the fibres we wear come from nature. Whether it’s oils from the ground, wool from sheep, cotton from plants or even cashmere from goats, what we choose to wear has a beginning, middle and an end. To mark where Begg & Co’s cashmere story begins and to celebrate World Environment Day I wanted to share a few of my favourite photos taken during my time spent in Mongolia’s beautiful natural world. Enjoy!
And Happy World Environment Day!