The term sustainability is slowly losing its strength in the solutions game of the world because more resources are depleting at an alarming rate. We are past the point of avoiding depletion of natural resources because it has already happened and the resources that have not been completely depleted are at very critical levels.
We have reached a point in our existence on earth where we need to become more regenerative.As humans we seem to have the notion that we participate in nature, when in reality we are nature. This mentality has seen humans take away from the earth more than we are giving back because we do not understand that our actions affect us more than they affect natural resources, they can survive without our existence but we cannot.
Coming to the realisation that the topic I have focused on for the past six months is not exactly provide the solutions I was hoping for has been a tough pill to swallow, but I am pleased to have reached this point when I did. Sustainability absolves us of the guilt we feel for the one-sided relationship we have with the earth, whereas regeneration forces us to actively work towards fixing the damage we have done here.
The impact of regenerative farming
Regenerative fashion is an extension of regenerative farming, an agricultural principle which follows the guidance of indigenous ecological knowledge. We need to understand that carbon is not our enemy but appears to be because CO2 atoms are stored in the wrong places. Healthy soil is the basis for regenerative farming because in just one teaspoon of healthy soil there are more lifeforms than actual humans on earth. The living being within healthy soil support all life on the planet. Their health and vitality relates to our health and vitality in return.
The focus on regenerative fashion comes after the many efforts to sustain unhealthy fashion practises. We have seen the growth of practises such as greenwashing, where brands are paying lots of money to appear green when they are actually not. Current fashion systems, including some sustainable movements, are responsible for soil degradation and exploitation.
Farmers growing textiles tend to inhale toxic agrochemicals which are also responsible for the contamination of freshwater and soil causing extreme health issues. This method of farming reduces food sovereignty, biodiversity and soil health which contributes to global heating and climate breakdown.
The effects of soil degradation/ unhealthy soil to human life
Regenerative fashion production is directly linked to food production which has inferior growing patterns currently. Historically these processes could not be separated because fibres for clothing were grown locally using the byproducts of food cultivation. Through mass production however, attention is being drawn to the true impact on land and how most of its issues are deeply rooted in colonisation, capitalism and racism.
In understanding these intersectional issues, many fashion brands and creatives are rerooting their focus and production techniques to incorporate regenerative methods and improve soil health. The new production techniques are meant to combat social, climate and ecological issues caused by the intersectional challenges.
The fashion industry continues to endanger the earth, even though many methods have been explored to slow down these effects and sometimes stop them all together. The industry’s slow response to the intersectional issues contributing to environmental distress are systemic and historically difficult to resolve, but this does not mean that solutions do not exist. For instance, we can look at how to redirect CO2 atoms and use them for good instead of releasing greenhouse emissions.
Although the fashion industry is highly implicated for the appalling health of natural processes and resources, we as humans need to start understanding that our relationship to nature is flawed and requires a do over. We need to start preserving the earth the same way we preserve ourselves, and for everything we take we should be willing to give something back. We are not superior to the processes of nature nor are we educated enough to understand how our actions affect these processes.
The state in which the earth is in requires production methods completely different from the ones we have been working so hard to sustain. Sustainability is no longer enough, regeneration is our greatest asset because we need to start now fixing the problems we created centuries ago. The earth and its processes are our greatest teacher, we humans need to finally step back and let nature guide us into this next production phase.