Today is World Soil Day, a day where people around the world work to raise awareness of the issue of soil pollution. We often hear about water pollution and air pollution; they seem to more directly impact us as people. We need clean air to breathe and clean water to drink in order to survive. But we also need clean, pollution-free soil needed not only to feed the world, but to minimize climate change, maintain biodiversity.
Soil degradation is an often understated issue. More than 800 million people around the world are food insecure, and another 2 billion are nutritionally insecure. Contributing to that is the fact that one-third of our global topsoil has been degraded in some way, be it erosion, overuse, or pollution.
Here at tentree, we actively work toward having a positive impact on the world’s soil. This is how we’re doing it.
Our materials have less of an impact on soil
The clothes you buy can either have a negative or a hugely positive impact on the environment—depending on the choice you make. Conventional cotton has a draining impact on the soil its grown in, while other fabrics that come from sustainably harvested natural cellulose materials, like hemp and organic cotton, can have the opposite impact.
For each pound of conventionally grown cotton produced in the United States, a quarter pound of synthetic fertilizer is needed, including synthetic nitrogen, which is considered to be among the worst for the environment. The damage doesn’t just impact soil, but these fertilizers can end up in our waterways and pollute our air as well.
Conventional cotton is also a crop that requires a lot of pesticides in order to grow. Cotton utilizes 16% of the world’s insecticides and almost 7% of the world’s herbicides, which contribute to the degradation of the soil in which it is grown. This means more synthetic fertilizers are required, which continues the cyclical nature of cotton damaging the world’s soil.
Organic cotton protects soil
The issues of soil, water, and air pollution from conventional cotton are reduced when choosing organic cotton. Synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides and herbicides are prohibited from being used for the growth of organic cotton, which helps to protect soil, water, and air we depend on to ensure the longevity of our ecosystem, and putting less stress on our resources.”
Cotton in general is far from perfect, even when it is organically grown, which is why we’ve begun to incorporate hemp into our products. Hemp does not exhaust the soil; in between harvest seasons, their leaves are mulched back into the soil to maximise their nutritional benefits.
The roots of the hemp plant also anchor the soil, preventing runoff. Hemp also has powerful carbon sequestration capacity, storing it in their leaves, stalks, and the soil, which helps combat the issue of carbon pollution in the atmosphere.
Trees help too
Our materials aren’t the only way we’re helping protect the world’s soil. Erosion from irresponsible land use practices is a huge problem throughout the world. In Nepal, for example, many hillsides that had been deforested suffered from severe landslides during the 2015 earthquake. This caused a massive loss of land and damage to local water tables.