How does raising sheep for wool in a sustainable way impact climate change? How does Carbon Farming help restore balance in a way that helps build resilience to drought while also increasing agricultural productivity naturally? Welcome to the future of Climate-Beneficial Wool.
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A significant number of the sheep in our region are grazed on the vegetation of California’s rangeland systems.
Alpaca, llama and mohair producers also utilize pasture (managed, grazed domestic forage) and to some degree rangeland (grazed resident vegetation) for their agricultural practices.
All of these grass-fed, fiber-producing animals have the potential to graze on managed landscapes where Carbon Farming practices are being implemented, thus creating products that are Climate Beneficial™, by virtue of their integral place in the Carbon Farming system.
Why is Carbon Farming Important?
The carbon cycle is a critical natural process that moves carbon through Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, pedosphere, lithosphere, and oceans. Human activity has tipped the balance of the carbon cycle through extracting enormous quantities of deeply sequestered fossil carbon as fossil fuels. These dense forms of carbon, when burned, release massive amounts of energy and carbon dioxide.
More carbon dioxide is now being released than the earth’s land-based plant life and oceans can naturally reabsorb.
The excess carbon dioxide has formed a blanket in our atmosphere—trapping the sun’s heat and changing our climate, as seen in shifts in our earth’s jet stream, ocean currents, and air temperature. Rainfall patterns are changing and glaciers (water storage for many communities) are melting quickly.
Carbon Farming has the potential to restore balance within the carbon cycle in a way that will ameliorate climate change, build resilience to drought and increase our agricultural productivity naturally.
Measured and Monitored
How are products determined to be Climate Beneficial?
Carbon Farming Practices can be measured and monitored for the enhancement of permanent soil carbon storage, and therefore material coming from these landscapes can be verified as Climate Beneficial.
In an initial research study by Dr. Marcia deLonge of UC Berkeley’s Silver Lab, it was shown that sheep grazed on compost-applied rangelands produce wool with a net carbon benefit; and subsequently moving this wool through a regional and renewable energy powered supply chain would produce a garment with a negative CO2 footprint.
Comparing conventional to Climate Beneficial production shows a carbon footprint differential of over 150 pounds of CO2 per garment. See the comparison here.
Implications for Brands and Artisans
In 2013, Fibershed assessed California wool for its quality and quantity. It is now known that a considerable amount of California’s wool (over 900,000 pounds per year) is high enough quality for some form of garment production.
Regenerative Fiber Systems
Regional and place-based clothing will offer a new wave of opportunity to explore the potential of our landscape.
Fibershed has developed a program, called 1% for Regenerative Fiber Systems, for brands and artisans to contribute directly to a non-profit fund to pay for the implementation of Carbon Farming on our local ranches and farms.
Donations made to this fund create measurable beneficial climate impact, while supporting drought resilience, and a diversity of forage and habitat. These early stage investments will bring about the creation of certified Climate Beneficial fiber for use in multiple garment and durable good contexts.
Climate Beneficial is a trademark of Fibershed and Carbon Cycle Institute. Illustrations © Ron and Joe/Shutterstock