“Carbon negative” products typically use carbon credits to offset the product’s emissions — which doesn’t take away the fact that the item’s production process emitted CO2 in the first place. However, that is not the case for a new carbon-negative hoodie, whose production is actually beneficial, removing more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases.
The process starts in New Zealand, where the hoodie-making startup Sheep Inc., sources its wool. By using regenerative agriculture practices, such as having the sheep graze in ecologically strategic areas, producing the wool captures more CO2 than the farms’ overall emissions.
“Over the last two years, we’ve been running a research project with the farms to really figure out what that final number is—how much impact does a kilogram of wool coming from a particular farm [have]?” cofounder Edzard van der Wyck tells Fast Company. It turns out, the farms capture enough carbon to more than cover the emissions associated with the other stages of the hoodie’s life cycle.
After the wool is sheared, the yarn travels by ship to a mill in Germany that spins it using renewable energy and applies a chemical-free treatment, which makes it more durable so the final product lasts longer. At another factory in Portugal, a knitter uses 3D knitting machines — also running on green energy — to make the garment leaving zero waste behind. Not only that, since no other materials are used for thread, the clothing item is fully biodegradable at the end of its life.
The company also uses electric vehicles when possible to deliver the clothing to customers, and is currently exploring other ways to further cut its carbon footprint, such as adding seaweed to feed so the sheep burp less methane.
Image source: Sheep Inc.