Is Cashmere Vegan + Sustainable?

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/03/22 •  8 min read

Is cashmere vegan and sustainable? These are questions every ethical consumer asks. Here is how buying cashmere will impact you, the environment, animals and laborers. 

is cashmere vegan and sustainable

Fabric, materials and textiles are things we consume often. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on cashmere.

You are going to learn all about cashmere’s vegan and sustainability status. Additionally, the following info will include cashmere advantages and disadvantages for your home, whether cashmere is a natural fiber, biodegradable…or perhaps even destructive!

After learning if cashmere is vegan and sustainable you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you shop.

This post is all about learning if cashmere is vegan and sustainable.

Is Cashmere Vegan And Sustainable?

HOME

Durability: pros cashmere is lasting and durable if organic and high quality

Versatility: pros cashmere is incredibly soft, often used to make shawls and sweaters

Affordability: cons cashmere is typically expensive, prices may vary

Cashmere is…

  1. Botanical Inks: Plant-to-Print Dyes, Techniques and Projects
  2. Botanical Inks: Plant-to-Print Dyes, Techniques and Projects
    $16.39
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/15/2022 06:04 am GMT
  3. Mend & Patch: A Handbook to Repairing Clothes and Textiles
  4. Mend & Patch: A Handbook to Repairing Clothes and Textiles
    $16.95
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/15/2022 07:14 am GMT
  5. Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials
  6. Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials
    $21.09
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    08/15/2022 12:28 pm GMT

ENVIRONMENT

Fiber source: natural, cashmere is a natural fiber, made from hair of cashmere goats or other types of goats

Biodegradable: yes, cashmere is biodegradable

Destruction: high, cashmere production is relatively destructive, cheaper cashmere is produced with chemicals and carcinogenic dyes, toxins from animal excrement pollute air, water, soil, high CO2e carbon emitted, strain on natural resources such as land, food and water, contributes to deforestation, with the large number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, water, soil, etc.

Cashmere is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, cashmere production does not require any animals to die

Harms: cashmere goats or other types of goats

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, wildlife considered to be “threats” to goats leads to landowners killing kangaroos and coyotes, permitted by law, resulting in millions slaughtered every year by ranchers and the federal government

Cashmere is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Cashmere…

What are cashmere uses?

Cashmere uses include making winter clothing, sweaters scarves, shawls and more.

What is the material abbreviation for cashmere?

WS is the material abbreviation for cashmere.

cashmere is durable.

durable, long lasting fabrics, materials and textiles

Is cashmere durable or delicate? Cashmere is durable and long lasting when cared for properly.

For every 5 garments produced, the equivalent of 3 end up in a landfill or incinerated each year!

One reason for such wastefulness society’s ever growing desire to acquire. Fast fashion (creating low-priced items at high volumes) is problematic for a number of reasons and promotes the attitude that clothing is nearly disposable.

But another component of such a quick turnaround on clothing is because it’s just not lasting long enough. Snags, stains, warping and shrinkage render items unusable and unacceptable for the  donation pile. Avoid such problems by buying better quality, more durable, long lasting materials. Timeless wardrobe favorites that last for years and years are more sustainable and reduce the need for replacements. 

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles burns or goes to landfills…

Keep minimalism in mind and buy less, borrow and buy items second hand. Thrift shops offer many inexpensive, unique finds that have already proven to stand the test of time!

cashmere is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Is cashmere eco friendly and sustainable? No, cashmere is unsustainable.

Animal materials are a natural fiber and biodegradable unless heavily treated with chemicals. However, they are not at all eco-friendly or sustainable due to the overwhelming strain on natural resources; the water needed, food needed and land usage that must happen for such abundant amounts of animals to live.

With the high number of animals unnaturally bred onto the planet in the name of human utilization, specifically ruminants (cows, sheep, goats, deer, camels, etc.), they emit high volumes of carbon emissions and contaminate air, soil and water with their waste (excrement). This is also toxic to ecosystems and wildlife. 

Animal agriculture is not good for the environment, human health and of course, the animals themselves. Thus, animal derived, non-vegan materials are not only cruel and inhumane but environmentally unsustainable. 

That’s not to say that all vegan materials are sustainable. There are many vegan yet unsustainable fabrics, materials and textiles. Most of us don’t realize that washing one synthetic garment releases about 2,000 plastic microfibers which then enter the ocean and food chain…or that 30% of rayon and viscose used in fashion comes from endangered and ancient forests. So because a fabric is vegan it does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable, eco-friendly and so on. 

Read more about ‘What Makes Fabric Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’

cashmere is not vegan.

Is cashmere vegan? No, cashmere is vegan. Cashmere goats must be killed or used in order to produce cashmere.

Cows, sheep, alpacas, goats, ducks and foxes are animals commonly subject to exploitation for their skins, hair or feathers. In fact, BILLIONS of them die every single year simply in the name of fashion. 

Before buying a pair of shoes, a sweater, a purse, check the materials. Common and unfortunately popular animal-derived materials include:

These materials often come from places like India and China where there can be NO animal welfare laws or enforcement. But if the item does come from a more developed area of the world, such as the United States or Europe, that animal was likely a victim of factory farming. In such overcrowded farms there is confinement, disease and animals sometimes live their entire lives indoors, never seeing the light of day.

Material from animals may involve slaughtering like leather and fur production, for instance. In regards to wool or feathers, animals struggle while workers hold them down and beat them in order to shear their coat or rip feathers from skin. This leaves them bloody and wounded in pain. 

Dressing and decorating vegan is easier than ever with this: Vegan Fabrics, Materials and Textiles List

cashmere is a material that may or may not have labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is cashmere a material that has known labor issues? At this time, there are no known specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding cashmere goat farming but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Cashmere may or may not have labor issues.

Did you know that the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? Whether agriculture involves crops or animals, the labor behind each and every product made from cotton, leather, wool, etc. cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers.

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives simply by being mindful to buy items that are certified fair trade. 

This post was all about whether cashmere is vegan and sustainable. 

Sources:

Sew Guide: Fabric glossary
Textile School: Textile fabric types
slow fashion: sustainable vs. unsustainable fabrics
The Spruce: Types of fabric A to Z: What are you wearing?
Grandview Research: Synthetic Leather Market Worth $40.9 Billion By 2027 | CAGR: 4.4%

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

Keep Reading