Nina Marenzi is the founder of The Sustainable Angle, a not-for-profit organisation that initiates and supports projects with a focus on sustainability in the fashion and textile industries, as well as related industries, such as food and agriculture. In Seed Magazine volume 03, Nina Marenzi discusses why the fashion industry needs to ‘diversify its fibre basket’, how what we wear affects the health of the planet’s soil, and how fashion can help to be part of the environmental solution rather than the problem.
Why is soil so important for the fashion supply chain?
Fashion is dependent on its raw materials, and unless these are synthetic, most of them are natural fibres that come from or depend on the soil. We’re as reliant on soil for our clothes as we are for our food.
You often speak about the need for the fashion industry to ‘diversify its fibre basket’ – what does that mean and why is it so important?
Diversifying the fibre basket is about ensuring we widen the base of fibres we rely on to relieve the stress on the soil, and shift to textiles that are kinder to the environment. Conventional cotton and virgin polyester are currently used in over 75 per cent of all clothing created and we urgently need to move away from them. Conventional cotton is an irrigated crop so it uses a lot of water, pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, which are very polluting. Producing cotton this way is simply unsustainable for the environment and for the health of the growers and workers. And polyester is derived from petroleum, so it uses fossil fuels, which is another finite resource. Its fibres stay in the environment for hundreds of years and also contribute to the microfibre pollution in the ocean for millions of years. Anything that is not hard on the soil is an important alternative to cotton.
What about organic cotton – there seems to be some debate over whether that is a viable alternative and something we should or should not be using?
Organic cotton is a very different proposition to conventionally-produced cotton. Anything organic is grown in rotation, which means that you replenish the soil’s nutrients with the crop that comes behind it. Growing organic cotton can have a very positive impact on soil health, especially if grown in a regenerative system, by increasing its fertility and supporting biodiversity, and healthy soil can also act as a carbon sink, capturing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it.
Read the full interview with Nina Marenzi in Seed Magazine volume 03, which releases on Monday 7th December and is available to pre-order now.