Sheep Inc Light Knit Sweater

overall rating:

2.8

planets

Claire deVroede
8/4/2021
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Sheep Inc, or Sheep Included, creates high quality, carbon negative knit-wear. This company conforms to the highest animal welfare standard that exists and connects you to the sheep that produced the sweater you purchased! The garment comes with a biodegradable, detachable tracking tag that allows the customer to receive updates about the lovely animal responsible for keeping them warm! This sweater is entirely biodegradable. Sheep Inc’s garments are dyed only with environmentally safe dyes and manufactured using solar-powered Whole Garment machines. Sheep Inc’s Sheep stations in New Zealand use unique, regenerative grazing management strategies that result in this garment sequestering more carbon than it produces. The Light Knit sequesters approximately 1.74 KG Co2e and comes with a “For-Life Guarantee.” Sheep Inc intends for their products to last multiple generations. Should the garment be damaged, the customer can send it in for repairs at any time. Sheep Inc has created a circular and “biophilic” sweater that is built to last and they seem committed to making it so. Their practices from pasture management to distribution are asymptotically close to being Sustainable. Although all their sweaters are over $100, they are each guilt-free purchases in my eyes. For a product that lasts an entire lifetime and gives you the very unique opportunity to engage with the animal that produced the wool, I think it is worth every penny. 

What it's made of:

3

Sheep Inc products are made from ultra-fine Merino wool sourced from regenerative New Zealand farms. Their sheep are treated at the highest worldwide animal welfare standard. Their sheep stations are certified ZQ; meaning their sheep are free to live naturally, free from thirst, free from discomfort, free from distress and free from disease. This means that the sheep are able to roam freely (with their mates) in a space that allots an acre or more to each animal. Sheep Inc’s stations prohibit Mulesing; a painful surgical procedure commonly done on sheep to prevent attack by flies. They instead use integrated strategies to mitigate the chance of flystrike. The ZQ Standard also prevents sheep from being transported internationally for slaughter or breeding. Sheep Inc’s sheep are regularly monitored for diseases and the facilities were created to mitigate risk of injury.
You also adopt one of these sheeps through your purchase of a Sheep Inc garment. The garment includes a removable NFC tag with trackable provenance so you can track your sheep. You will receive updates when your sheep gets shorn or when it gives birth! This is a truly novel and special feature that extends the circularity of this product by creating connections between people and the animals responsible for creating their material goods. Even the removable Eco-Paxx tag is biodegradable and made from castor-bean. This tag allows you to see the full history of the garment so customers can see in detail every step of Sheep Inc’s supply chain.
All of Sheep Inc’s wool comes from their 3 sheep stations in New Zealand. These stations use innovative land management and grazing techniques which allows their property to sequester more carbon than their operations omit, making this sweater carbon negative. This is not due to carbon offsetting. Their products are naturally carbon negative. The Light Knit in particular is -1.74 KG Co2e, but some of their other sweaters sequester even more than that.

This product is also 100% biodegradable. This is a truly circular product. Sheep Inc’s founders designed this product to last multiple generations. Their products come with a “For-Life Guarantee.” If at any point you have an issue with your garment, you can get in touch with the company and send the item in for repairs. This policy includes everything from normal wear and tear to poor workmanship. Their products are also incredibly simple in design. They state on their company site that these classic silhouettes are made to fly in the face of trends and fast fashion gimmicks. 

How it's made:

2.9

Sheep Inc yarn is spun by a german company, Südwolle. Südwolle’s products have received certification from Bluesign and Oekotex for their sustainable manufacturing. Bluesign is a rigorous, comprehensive third-party system that examines textile producers for their environmental impact. They demand full transparency from raw material production to chemical suppliers to water emissions. Oekotex is another third-party certification system that “closely reviews increased product safety, improving sustainable production and a sustainable, transparent value-creation chain.” Sheep Inc is not only reviewed by one third-party group but two (and now three including Voiz). This company continues to impress me with the detail and dedication of their transparency. This sweater is crafted in Portugal by the company Fatextil. They use a solar-powered Whole Garment 3D machine to create Sheep Inc’s products.
Then, the clothing is distributed by UK brand Airbox Fulfillment. According to the Sheep Inc’s website, Airbox Fulfillment is entirely solar-powered, but Airbox’s website does not confirm this. From an article I found, they have one carbon neutral facility in London that generates all its energy from solar panels. These solar PV panels alone save over 93 tonnes of CO2 per year. This is an important switch and is a lot better than the alternatives. Even though Airbox is very much concerned about maximizing efficiency, they do not disclose information about their emissions from transportation and if they are offset. I also do not know the packaging used for Sheep Inc’s products. I imagine that a company this innovative would stray away from plastic bags but I cannot confirm. 

Who makes it:

2.7

Sheep Inc was founded by Michael Wessely, Edward van der Wyck, and Gavin Erasmus. Sheep Inc is currently based in Wales. They source their material from New Zealand and craft the garments in Portugal. Although all the facilities along this product’s supply chain are sustainable and solar-powered, these facilities are very scattered. This product does a lot of jet-setting before it reaches your closet. For this reason, I am skeptical that this product is actually carbon negative. However, the amount of precision and thought Sheep Inc has put into each step of their supply chain is very impressive. Although I am skeptical, my doubts may be unfounded. Sheeps Inc’s choice to make their products entirely biodegradable and provide a "For-Life Guarantee" are proof that they considered the entire life-span of this product and understand their continued responsibility of the product even after it is purchased and disposed.
A commenter online made it apparent to me that sheep are also large polluters. They emit not carbon dioxide but methane gas. The carbon equivalent measurement created by the Kyoto Protocol allows one to equate a certain amount of any greenhouse gas (methane, Hydrofluorocarbons, sulfur hexaflouride, etc) to a unit of carbon dioxide. In response to this comment, Sheep Inc stated that they convert their estimated methane emission into carbon equivalence units so they, in fact, do include these “natural” emissions into their “carbon” calculations. Good on them. Although regenerative farming is sustainable, agriculture such as this is still destructive to habitats. Sheep Inc claims that it donates 5% of its revenue to biodiversity projects. However, they have not specified which projects in particular.
Sheep Inc’s website includes a diversity statement which is essentially three stanzas about the general importance of diversity. They state that “actively seeking out diversity is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.” I appreciate that this company cares about having a diverse team; however this is merely a statement and does not in anyway address how the company is actually looking to become more inclusive. A diversity statement does not prove a company is inclusive. In my opinion this statement also suggests that they created this statement about diversity because it is “smart” and culturally lucrative, not because it is inherently valuable to the brand.

This company does not include any information about the wages workers at the stations receive. I would like Sheep Inc to provide more information on this.