Securing the Culture of Cashmere in the 21st Century

If you wear a fine and soft cashmere sweater, then you are likely to contribute to the desertification of Mongolia. I did not like the idea when I stood at the edge of the Gobi Desert, but the hard reality is that we are often not aware of the unintended consequences we cause wearing some of the finest clothing. Even if that organic sweater carries an organic label,it does not automatically imply that the absence of chemicals turns the goats' hair wear sustainable. An ever rising demand puts excessive pressure on production. Whenever the number of grazing goats increases in this fragile savanna bordering dry lands, the desert expands. Thus, the question to ask is: if the best response is planting trees to stem the expanding desert as dozens of NGOs attempt to do, or should we instead focus on designing an economic system that improves the livelihood of the herders?

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