Move Over Steinbeck: Inner Mongolia Becomes a Modern Day Dust Bowl

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Cashmere has long been associated with luxury, but that’s not the case anymore with affordably priced cashmere currently saturating markets. While you might consider this a gift, mid-priced chain stores like Banana Republic and Target (who are buying the fiber) are part of a larger sock in the gut to the Mongolese people and the place they call home.

In addition to consumer’s demand for cashmere, the biggest culprit of the Mongolian countryside desertification are the goats themselves – eating roughly 400 square miles of grass a year (including the grass roots).

Ecotextile News reports that this over grazing of the high plains goats, in some instances has resulted in a “desertification of the land,” from nomadic herders looking to make a buck.

“The ever increasing demand in the west for cheap cashmere has encouraged such growth in the goat population so that there are real fears over the ecological balance of the region,” says Ecotextile News.

In the same article, China’s Ministry of Nature and Environment estimated that “grassland is thinning out across 75 percent of this vast country, two thirds the size of Western Europe, while 7 percent is already desert.”

With the Cashmere World Trade Fair taking place November 23-25, a Cashmere Sustainability Conference will encourage attendees on industry and environmental threats – from the fiber to the overgrazing, scouring and dyeing.

Image: Left-Hand

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