Since the industrial revolution, the way that we produce food and clothing has been damaging our ecosystem — and contributing up to a third of global carbon emissions. Deep-tilling and the use of harmful chemicals has turned our soil into useless dirt. To make matters worse, massive areas of land around the world have become barren. And these lands can no longer absorb carbon from our atmosphere.
The problem is that more carbon is being released than stored. In order to invert this unsustainable situation, we can re-introduce a form of agriculture that supports healthy soil. How? By implementing regenerative agriculture practices, we can rebuild healthy soil, draw more carbon down from the atmosphere — and turn climate change around.
One ways of implementing regenerativa agriculture is to convert conventional cotton production to regenerative organic cotton. Thanks to organic cotton, farmers earn more money and are no longer exposed to toxic pesticides. Compared to conventional cotton, organic one consumes 62% less energy, has 46% less impact on global warming and has 91% less water consumption.
However, the conversion from conventional to organic cotton takes three years. The soil needs this time to recover from the artificial pesticides. During this time, the farmers cannot sell the cotton as organic cotton and do not receive an organic premium. In addition, they have problems finding high-quality, GMO-free seeds - an essential prerequisite.
More than 50% of smallholders give up on conversion to organic cotton within the first year because they cannot do it alone. This explains why less than 1% of the cotton used in the textile industry is organic.
The brand has been using organic cotton for 12 years and, in April 2018, founded the ARMEDANGELS Organic Farmers Association, to help 366 small farmers in India to switch from conventional cotton to organic cotton.
From the first year of the conversion, the farmers receive from the company:
1. An ARMEDANGELS organic premium
2. High-quality GMO-free seedstraining
3. Technical support from the brand's partner Suminter Organics in India.
The first harvest had produced good results and the company stays updated on every development.
In May 2019, the sustainability managers Julia and Lavinia travelled to India and visited the local farmers. The stories can be found in the company highlights on their Instagram account.
The brand has alredy converted 62,500m² of conventional cotton field into regenerative cotton field and is implementing five main initiatives to implement soil health and reduce the amounts of carbon being drawn down from the atmosphere.
1. Plant Cover Crops: they protect the soil, increases organic matter and enables better water management.
2. No Deep Tilling: deep tilling disturbs soil structure and microbial growth and it's therefore avoided.
3. Develop Compost Systems: they improve soil health by increasing the population and diversity of microbiomes.
4. Plant Perennials: by planting plants that won't be harvested annually, the roots will establish themselves and microbial activity in the soil will increase.
5. Integrated Pest Management Systems: reducing the use of pesticides can be done by integrating other forms of pest management systems.