The North Face Adds Products Made Through Regenerative Agriculture
The North Face has expanded a line of clothing and accessories made from wool produced in California using regenerative agriculture practices. The retailer says that the material for its Cali Wool Collection has a net negative carbon effect at the ranching stage of production.
To source the wool for the Cali Wool Collection, The North Face works with Bare Ranch in Surprise Valley, California, and Fibershed, a nonprofit that develops regional and regenerative fiber systems on behalf of independent working producers, the company explained.
“While we’re in the process of conducting a life-cycle assessment to calculate the carbon capture potential of this collection, we know that Bare Ranch’s carbon farming practices are expected to sequester 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year,” James Rogers, director of sustainability at The North Face told Environmental Leader.
Fibershed’s Climate Beneficial Wool, the material used for the collection, comes from grass-fed, fiber-producing animals that graze on land where carbon farming practices are implemented. The nonprofit’s list of approved soil carbon building practices, mainly selected from the USDA-NRCS GHG Ranking Tool, includes wetland restoration, windbreak renovation, and biomass planting.
The Cali Wool beanie hit shelves in 2017 and sold out online twice last year, Rogers said. This growing demand for sustainable products helped lead the company to expand their Cali Wool Collection this fall to a unisex scarf as well as men’s and women’s jackets. To support the added products, The North Face committed to purchasing five times as much Climate Beneficial Wool by volume compared to last year.
Conventional ranching practices often cause soil degradation, the company says, whereas regenerative agriculture and ranching works to build soil health, removing carbon from the atmosphere, increasing soil fertility and improving water-holding capacity. The North Face’s team sees interest in regenerative agriculture expanding across the US, with more than 100 producers across the country have completed or are in the process of developing Carbon Farm Plans.
The company found that focusing on material types and how they’re made is the number one way they can reduce negative environmental effects. “In 2010, we conducted three different lifecycle assessments for shoes, backpacks, and jackets,” Rogers said. “From that, we learned that the majority of our impact comes from the materials and manufacturing stage of our products.”
In addition to working on regenerative agriculture, the retailer has expanded their lineup of products made from recycled materials such as their Bottle Source collection. They also piloted a program this year called The North Face Renewed to sell refurbished apparel online. Program partners use Tersus Solutions, a cleaning process that uses carbon dioxide in a closed-loop system and eliminates the need for water.