Cashmere is a type of high-end fabric that may be expensive. It is preferred over wool since it is softer, lighter, and significantly more insulative. However, like with any product generated from animals, it raises the question of whether or not it is cruelty-free. What do you think the goats have to go through for you to be able to wear their coats?
No one can fault you for desiring to stock your closet with cashmere apparel. If you are concerned about the treatment of animals, however, you should pay close attention to the country from which your cashmere originates.
The vast majority of cashmere is not animal-friendly. You can locate more ethical distributors; however, you will need to seek the correct locations and afford to spend a little bit more. Everything you need to know about the manufacturing of cashmere is provided here.
What Exactly Is Cashmere?
The downy undercoat of the Changthangi goat, indigenous to the Ladakh region in Northern India, is known as cashmere. Products, including clothing, shawls, and accessories crafted from it, are incredibly insulating despite their low weight and feathery-like softness to the touch.
The cashmere that is sold comes from Ladakh and is gathered by hand. The goat’s hair is harvested and treated in a manner that is not unethical to provide luxurious assortments of warm winter clothing and accessories.
One of the most common uses of cashmere wool is producing Pashmina shawls from Kashmir. The term “Pashm,” from which the name “Pashmina” is derived, literally means “soft gold” in the language of its origin.
Where Exactly Does Cashmere Originate?
The delicate undercoat of the cashmere goat is processed into the fibers used to make cashmere fabric. In the beginning, one might find these goats in the Kashmir area of central Asia, which is situated between the countries of India and Pakistan.
Cashmere goats are typically bred in the Tibetan highlands, the Himalayas, and Mongolia. This is because their thick fleece protects them from the severe winters that may reach temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius in these regions.
However, China, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mongolia are currently the world’s leading cashmere producers for commercial purposes.
During the winter, these goats’ woolly coats become dense and warm, protecting against the bitterly low temperatures. However, as the springtime draws closer, it gradually begins to shed off of its own accord.
Cashmere collection is traditionally done by carefully stroking the goats until the fibers fall off, which is considered the most ethical method.
However, it is a time-consuming operation, particularly when one considers that it takes the wool from four goats to manufacture a single cashmere sweater. Therefore, the majority of manufacturers will not choose ethics over profits.
The vast majority of big producers opt to shear the goats in a manner that is far more violent and stressful for the animals.
Is It Possible to Produce Cashmere Cruelty-Free ?
There is no need to subject cashmere to any severe treatment. However, it is not as simple as going into a store and inquiring about it; other steps are involved.
If the thought of cashmere makes you feel awestruck, you are not the only one. It has a long history of usage among people. According to biblical scriptures, the first known use of woolen cloth was in the third century B.C.
Until recently, cashmere was considered a scarce and exclusive fabric only for the very wealthy. But as consumer demand increased, farmers worked to increase their crop yields and make their goods more accessible.
These days, cashmere may be purchased in several chain retailers that sell clothes, such as H&M and Zara. Even though it is more expensive than wool, it is still inexpensive.
Unfortunately, suppose you are committed to putting an end to animal cruelty. In that case, you will probably have to give up wearing cashmere unless you are ready to get your apparel from one of the very few ethical suppliers still in business.
How Big of a Business Is the Cashmere Industry?
Nearly seven percent of the global luxury market, which is now valued at $71.2 billion, is accounted for by cashmere. Farmers have been increasing their flocks to acquire a piece of this profitable pie. Today, 29 million goats are roaming the steppes worldwide; this figure is five times higher than it was thirty years ago.
The Global Wool Textile Organization estimates that the total amount of cashmere produced in 2020 was around 25,208 tonnes.
China dominates raw cashmere exports, which produce sixty percent of the world’s total supply. Mongolia comes in second place, providing twenty percent of the total supply.
The United Kingdom, Italy, and Germany are Europe’s three largest cashmere importers, accounting for 38 percent of the world’s total in 2018.
Large corporations have shunned cashmere in response to shifting consumer tastes, even though the cashmere industry remains robust. This is because conscientious customers are seeking more ethical and environmentally responsible business methods.
Apocalyptic Treatment of Animals in Cashmere Production:
On the most end of the scale, the film was taken in China (Inner Mongolia), depicting barbaric activities, including the following:
- Slaughterhouses are the only places where it is legal to cut the throats of goats in front of other goats.
- Workers were observed treading on goats and twisting limbs while ripping their hair off with metal combs. They also stepped on the goats.
- Goats are typically abandoned with untreated injuries and wounds and without access to any veterinary treatment. It was observed that some of the workers were applying rice wine to wounds. Workers were witnessed putting a hammer to a goat’s skull, causing the animal to die a drawn-out and excruciating death.
- Goats have a lifespan of around 12 years, yet they are frequently slaughtered and used for meat when they are just six years old because their owners believe they are no longer lucrative.
There is no question that these goats are kept only to harvest their hair; nonetheless, this practice is in no way morally acceptable. However, there is another method of growing cashmere sheep only on the opposite side of the border.
Is It Possible to Purchase Ethical Cashmere?
In a nutshell: the answer is yes, you can. But prior preparation in the form of study and thoughtful deliberation is required.
It is estimated that China produces over 12,000 tons of cashmere annually, which accounts for 65 percent of the world’s total production. The next largest producer is Mongolia, whose annual output is around 3,000 tons.
Brushing the goats is the only method of cashmere collection that may be considered moral and devoid of animal cruelty. Because most of these cashmere goats have already been shorn, they might be challenging to locate.
However, there is still a glimmer of optimism. Some farmers still opt to use the more traditional brushing method because they believe it is healthier for the goats and the people in the area.
You’ll discover that most cashmere produced ethically comes from Mongolia, which also has a growing population and the ideal atmosphere for goats to thrive.
In Mongolia, the number of local herders has increased by a factor of three in the past decade due to the government’s encouragement of people to go back into rural regions and engage in more traditional customs or ways of life.
Most ethical cashmere firms have linked with Mongolian herders and compensated them directly to support this expanding local economy after the fall of the communist dictatorship in Mongolia. This is a strategic move.
This indicates that herders have sufficient funds to pay reasonable wages to their people and goats. However, this expanding economy is also a reason for concern about the state of the environment.
Is It Possible to Make Cashmere Eco-Friendly?
If you look hard enough, you can get cashmere that isn’t bad for the environment. Excessive population growth and its influence on the natural world is presently one of our primary sources of worry. In the following paragraphs, we shall discuss this topic further.
Cashmere, on the other hand, being a natural fiber, has several evident advantages for the environment. This indicates that it’s:
After being thrown away, cashmere will degrade after six months. Already, this gives cashmere an edge over the various alternatives that are made of synthetic fiber.
It is excellent news for the environment, as it will help reduce the excessive manufacture of fresh cashmere fibers.
There is not the slightest thing improper with using previously used cashmere. Its fibers may withstand the test of time for many generations, so preferring to make purchases at thrift shops rather than manufactured clothing here helps reduce textile waste.
Therefore, if you are seeking minor harmful choices for the environment, we suggest you search for either pre-owned or recycled cashmere items.
You also have the option of looking for special certificates that verify the cashmere originates from an ethical farm that regulates the quantity of land utilized and the breeding of goats.
However, there are also a lot of long-term drawbacks associated with the production of cashmere that we cannot prevent. To meet the rising demand, overbreeding of these goats has occurred.
Why is the Cashmere Industry so Cruel?
It has been widely believed for a considerable amount of time that cashmere is a fabric that is not produced using any form of animal cruelty.
Fashion designers have reassured buyers that the goats were kept in a perfectly secure environment and were well safeguarded during the whole procedure. Because, after all, no goats must be slaughtered to obtain such lovely wool, right?
This is the farthest thing from the truth possible. To begin with, the majority of people who work in the fashion industry have very little to no idea of what goes on in agricultural settings. They receive woven cashmere that is finished and ready for manufacturing but nothing else.
However, only recently has the gruesome truth of commercial cashmere production become public knowledge, and the information that has been uncovered has horrified people. The following are some of the most significant problems facing the industry:
The Process of Shearing Causes a Great Deal of Anxiety for the Goats:
Unfortunately, unlike domestic sheep, cashmere goats do not enjoy having their fleeces sheared. Not only does the procedure of shearing domestic wool sheep not include inhumane practices, but it is also essential to the animals’ continued existence. They cannot shed their coats naturally and are not bothered by being handled.
It is usual for cashmere goats to lose their coats, which is considered immoral to interfere with the shedding process. But there’s more to it than that: they detest having their coats sheared.
In most cases, they have to be tied down to have their hair cut, and some disturbing films have shown how they fight and scream out in pain while this happens.
These films show how the animals are tethered down or sat in place to prevent them from moving about while the procedure is being carried out. After that, the shearer will make cuts with a massive knife that are as near to the undercoat as is physically feasible.
They do this always to have a sufficient supply of cashmere wool, but the result is that the goat’s skin is fragile and may be easily sliced.
Not to mention that if these goats are shorn too early in the season or before spring arrives, they may perish due to exposure to the harsh cold weather. It is unacceptable for any sheep or goats to expire due to the shearing procedure at any point in time.
The Rearing of Cashmere Goats Is Now Almost Completely Unsustainable:
Until the latter part of the 20th century, cashmere was an uncommon material that could be used to manufacture clothing that would last a lifetime and be handed down from one generation to the next.
Things have progressed and evolved. Cashmere is in higher demand than ever before, and producers are doing all they can to maintain their supply levels stable.
Unfortunately, their actions are hurting the surrounding ecosystem. The problem is that when they continue to raise the number of cashmere goats in an area, it causes the ecosystem to suffer an increasing amount of harm.
The steady degradation of land is one of the significant problems caused by overcrowding, which also contributes to the problem.
Goats are destructive grazers who tear up plants, grass, and roots and destroy dirt with their hooves. Goats are found in many parts of the world.
This indicates that the land cannot sustainably provide for the animals since there is not enough time to rejuvenate and fuel the ever-increasing herd numbers.
As a consequence of this, it leads to an ecological imbalance, which ultimately results in the transformation of these inhospitable zones into deserts.
To Ensure the Safety of the Industry, Native Animals Are Killed:
All of your goats should be considered an investment if you are a farmer in the cashmere sector. As a result, you will do all in your ability to ensure that your means of subsistence are not compromised.
The vast majority of cashmere growers think that this line of thinking is correct. Goats are frequently killed by wild animals that break into their farms after finding their way there. When this occurs, the farmers will do all it takes to secure their income, even murdering the natural species.
Therefore, the suffering that results from this procedure is not limited to just the goats. It is necessary to take the lives of many animals throughout this procedure to ensure that one person can get the cashmere sweater they have been lusting over and that another person can feed their family.
Is There Any Cashmere That Is Produced Without the Use of Any Animals or That Is Suitable for Vegans?
There is no method for the cultivation or production of cashmere that does not, in some manner, impact animals, people, or the environment. Because of this, several fashion firms have chosen to avoid sourcing their cashmere from China and specific regions of Mongolia to encourage ethical business methods.
Because herders grow in numbers more goats than their natural environments can provide food and shelter, the environmental effect of cashmere farming is continually worsening. Unfortuitously, the issue does not lend itself to a simple solution that would not push any further people into financial hardship.
There are, however, some excellent substitutes for cashmere, such as the product Re.VerSo is manufactured from the pre-consumer industrial scraps of wool and cashmere by five of Italy’s most prominent textile manufacturers.
The fact that this method is entirely open, verified, and trackable has piqued the interest of fashion designers looking for a way to reduce their environmental effects without compromising on the level of luxury they provide.
They have established specific requirements for the manufacturing of sustainable cashmere. Audits conducted by third parties ensure that these requirements are being satisfied consistently.
Therefore, if you decide to buy things that include cashmere, you should search for items labeled with “The Good Cashmere Standard.” On their website, you can also see a list of the brands with whom they have associated.
There is a possibility that it will be challenging to locate genuinely sustainable and cruelty-free cashmere. Still, several fantastic alternatives have a lower impact on the environment.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Is cashmere farming cruel?
The undercoat of goats handled as livestock and income-producing assets is used to produce cashmere wool. The cashmere business is regarded as brutal and immoral regarding the welfare of goats.
Are vegans allowed to wear cashmere?
According to the vegan lexicon, cashmere isn’t vegan because it’s manufactured from goats’ wool. As a result, certain goods may be free of animal cruelty depending on the goats’ living conditions, such as how often they shed their coats.
Is there Humane cashmere?
We have the impression that ethical cashmere isn’t the standard (and will never be for vegans). Still, it does appear that certain manufacturers and companies are doing cashmere in a way that makes us feel better about curling up in that ethical sweater.
Are cashmere fibers inhuman? There is no easy yes or no response to this question. There are ethical and environmental consequences to traditional Mongolian cashmere farming techniques, which are less severe on goats than commercial farming.
Cashmere that has not been subjected to animal testing is available, but it is more costly and more challenging to locate. Whether or if you decide to purchase cashmere is a matter of personal preference in the end.