Global fashion company H&M has promised to remove cashmere from its collections following animal cruelty and sustainability concerns.
The second-largest clothing retailer in the world will stop using cashmere by the end of 2020. The move is part of its 2030 goals list, which includes sourcing its cotton sustainably through the Better Cotton Initiative, making its supply chain more transparent, and using only recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030.
Cashmere and Animal Cruelty
The move followed an exposé by animal rights organization PETA Asia. A series of images and videos show the violence inflicted on animals in the cashmere industry in Mongolia and China, the world’s top cashmere supports, where 90 percent of the material comes from.
A video shows “frightened” goats being held down and stepped on whilst workers rip out their hair with metal combs, causing the animals to “scream in pain and fear,” PETA has claimed on its website. In the facilities visited, veterinary care was not provided to the animals who are “left with bloody cuts.”
Slaughterhouse workers in both Mongolia and China were recorded mistreating the animals, in some cases, they were hitting them in the head with hammers.
“Goats suffered on every farm in China and Mongolia visited by the eyewitnesses,” PETA said.
On average, one goat produces 8.5 ounces of hair a year. To make one cashmere jacket, the hair of six goats is required, according to the animal rights organization.
“The best way to help these goats is to refuse to support this cruel industry—by never buying anything made of cashmere,” PETA said.
Cashmere and the Environment
Cashmere also weighs heavily on the planet. It has the most destructive environmental impact of any animal-based fiber, PETA stated.
The production of the material causes soil degradation and desertification. Ninety percent of Mongolia is at risk of desertification. This has caused “some of the world’s worst dust storms on record” as well as air pollution that is so dense it could reach North America, according to PETA.
Cashmere Going Out of Style
PETA’s exposé motivated H&M to ditch “conventional” cashmere, which is the only kind that it sells. The retailer is turning toward vegan apparel; it recently introduced cruelty-free silk and began selling jackets, boots, and bags made out of vegan pineapple leather.
Following conversation with PETA UK, online fashion retailer ASOS also banned cashmere and has removed all cashmere stock from its website, “leaving goats’ hair where it belongs: on the goats.”