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Why soil is the bedrock of growing a more sustainable future

Brown and green fields
elizabeth lies/Unsplash
Mar 11, 2023 By WGSN Insider

WGSN explores why we’re seeing a growing importance in fortifying and protecting soil among industry innovators.

“Soil is a multifaceted topic within sustainable conversations as it offers a bevvy of benefits, from sourcing and manufacturing to post-consumer use. A key element within circular farming systems - healthy, microbe-abundant soil equates to better-quality food, materials and ingredients – making healthy soil a top resource priority,” says Megan Bang, Analyst at WGSN Beauty.

This important, but often overlooked area is now the focus for industries as diverse as beauty brands, regenerative architects, fashion innovators and agricultural waste management.

Graph of "soil" mentions on social and search in beauty
WGSN social media data, Google Trends

Applications vary far and wide

Swiss B Corp-certified brand Weleda has launched its Save Earth’s Skin campaign to promote caring for soil as we would our skin, partnering with environmental activist Arizona Muse for a video showing how the Earth’s soil is under threat. Its campaign will show in 40 countries and encourages viewers to take up planting and composting and use planet-friendly products.

Zero waste K-beauty brand SIITA takes a practical approach to soil health through its packaging, which is made of biodegradable resin that releases soil-beneficial nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potassium when composted.

Royal College of Art fashion student Yuhan Bai, from China, uses soil as a dye and fashion textile ingredient. Her Soil Project garment collection is made from a soil-based leather-alternative material and vintage garments dyed with soil.

Man dusting soil off hands
Eddie Kopp/Unsplash

Preserving biodiversity and protecting the ecosystem

Architect Tsukasa Ono has applied 'regenerative architecture' to build a housing project on Japan’s Yakushima island. Buildings are raised above the ground to improve air flow and keep soil microorganisms alive. Charred wooden piles are driven into the soil to promote mycelium growth, which encourages tree root growth and strengthens the soil.

Japanese firm MUSCA breeds specialist fly larvae that can turn agricultural waste into quality fertiliser. It uses housefly larvae selectively bred over 1,200 generations and its fertiliser is said to be more efficient than standard waste biomass recycling systems relying on microorganisms.

Hand of man putting fertiliser pellets on ground
Antony Trivet/Pexels

How can you action this

Talk to your customers about soil via activations and product design that enhance the quality of soil or mitigate negative impact.

WGSN subscribers can read the full Sustainability Bulletin: March 2023 for a round-up of the key sustainability happenings this month.

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