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Trees + Fashion

Trees + Fashion

How choosing regenerative wool saves trees in Canada and around the World

Previously on the W&W Blog, we celebrated World Soil Day and shared a bit about our Farm to Loom story and the Forestry Council certificates held by Südwolle Group – the main distributor of regenerative and organic merino wool worldwide, and the supplier for the brands we stock.    

You may know about the personal health benefits of choosing to wear our wool brands, and that our wool is grown on regenerative farms and 100% chemical free, organic and coloured using natural dyes…

But did you know that choosing to wear our wool also helps save ancient growth forests?

Viscose, rayon, modal, lyocell, and acetate are man made “cellulosics”, a type of fiber made mostly from the dissolved pulp (aka “cellulose”) of trees. Vital forest ecosystems are being harvested to manufacture the pulp that produces fast fashion fabrics. While they may be branded as “regenerative”, the logging of ancient ecosystems results in biodiversity loss that takes years to regenerate, if ever.

In Canada, we’re sacrificing our Boreal Forest to make crappy throw-away apparel made of cellulosic fabric like viscose. Most people have no idea that viscose and rayon are made at the expense of ancient and endangered forests in Canada, Indonesia and Brazil. 

More than 300 million trees are logged every year to become cellulosic fabric.  

When placed end-to-end, those trees would circle the Earth seven times. 

When farmed regeneratively, wool is truly a sustainable fabric. Wool sheep need to be sheared. Their wool grows back year after year and the better the life of the sheep, the better the quality of the wool. Our merinos live a good life on regenerative farms where they are rotated to prevent land desertification and to protect fragile South American ecosystems…but it got us thinking…. about rewilding our home and native land.

A big part of our mission at Warmth & Weather is to get families outside in nature.

To fulfill this mandate, we advocate for restoring natural ecosystems with locally adapted, native plants.  

Right here in Ontario, there’s a business that is focussed on doing just that.

Wilder Climate Solutions, founded by serial entrepreneur Blaine Pearson and her partner, filmmaker, Jason van Bruggen is working to build products and partnerships that safeguard and improve local ecosystems.   

We sat down to ask Blaine about her initiatives, the challenges that exist in rewilding, and how her company is using novel technology to connect native tree seed collectors with those who want to plant native trees.

W&W: Hi Blaine, tell us about Wilder Climate Solutions.

Blaine: Wilder Climate Solutions emerged from a shared desire to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss through nature-based solutions. I founded this organization with my husband and business partner Jason van Bruggen…We’re kind of serial entrepreneurs…collaborators in life and creatively, we sync. We’re major outdoor enthusiasts. Total nature lovers. Every day no matter what, we try to get outside to explore and enjoy the natural world. We have two huge dogs who require daily runs, and our passion for the outdoors is something we want to instill in our seven year old daughter, Jane. We’re avid cross-country and downhill skiers, cyclists, hikers and gardeners…

W&W: Ok, so you’re major outdoorsy people – and yet, you love your tech… 

Blaine: Yes, we have a love/hate relationship with tech, like most people. Wilder Climate Solutions exists to bridge the gap between human innovation and the natural world. We want to unlock the immense potential of nature to address the climate crisis. Recognizing that existing approaches alone are insufficient, we believe sustainable solutions are quite literally, rooted in nature.   

“At our core, we acknowledge that the Earth's ecosystems are not just victims of climate change but integral players in the fight against it. 

By working in tandem with nature, we can amplify the planet's inherent ability to adapt and thrive, fostering a balance that benefits both humanity and the environment.”

W&W: Ok, so how do we use nature and tech to combat the climate crisis? This is where your app Squiirrel comes in?

Blaine:  Yes, so we wanted to encourage planting more native trees and shrubs across Canada and wanted to come up with a way to build the supply of seeds that are needed to accomplish this. So, we collaborated with Accenture and Amazon Web Services to develop an app that helps to digitize the  seed collection process and to help drive clear communication between those who need seed (for restoration or reforestation projects) with the people who can do the collecting.   We called it “Squiirrel” for the friendly forest creatures that are so adept at collecting and caching seeds and nuts...and the plan is simple: build the native seed supply, globally.  In our first season we focussed on Canadian trees and shrubs but next year we’ll be expanding into the US, and eventually we plan to expand the platform to include grasses, sedges and forbes so that we can start expanding the ecosystems that we can restore.   We know that restoring native ecosystems is an immediate and cost effective way to sequester carbon, build resilience and enhance biodiversity so we’re thrilled to be able to help evolve the systems needed to scale this effort. 

W&W: Amazing! And you can download the app now?

Blaine: Yes, it is available now to download wherever you get your apps. Currently it is only available in Canada, but we intend to expand into the US this year.  We’re also working on the development of another technology-based solution to expedite the expansion of native tree seed supply through the use of aerial surveillance and machine learning.

W&W: What’s “machine learning”?

Blaine: Well, basically it is an application of AI. It’s a way of harnessing the data to expand and improve capacity. It’s another example of how we’re using innovative technology to build products that connect people to nature-based solutions to encourage climate resiliency.

W&W: And tell us about your Mini-Forest program?

Blaine: One of the most exciting projects we’re working on is the development of the Network of Nature.  The Network of Nature is a collaborative network of organizations that are providing  educational resources and access to human-scale interventions that give Canadians agency and hope in restoring nature and their place within it. One of our first projects is the National Mini Forest Program, where we inspire and support communities across Canada to build Miyawaki-style tiny forests. W&W: What are Miyawaki forests?

Blaine: Oh, they are so beautiful! Named after the Japanese botanist who invented them, Akira Miyawaki, they are basically mini-native tree and shrub forests that are planted very densely. The dense planting encourages rapid upgrowth and suppresses weeds and non-native species. The trees must be native and local, having evolved to live together, and then also planted in structural layers – a canopy, sub-canopy, shrubs and ground cover – to mimic a productive natural forest. It’s basically the recipe for a thriving ecosystem, welcoming in rich biodiversity and community participation.

W&W: It sounds like these initiatives could go a long way to rewilding our urban areas…

Blaine: Yes, they absolutely are and it is my goal that our work gives people hope through action.   With Wilder I want to inspire a new generation to embrace their place as a part of nature, not apart from nature. I want people to start to think differently about the way we connect with the world around us and how we can be agents of change to support a thriving and integrated world.  Plus, it’s kind of fun to think about making our lives a little bit wilder! 

W&W: Absolutely…These are programs and solutions we all need. Thanks so much, Blaine.

Look to see more from Wilder Climate Solutions as we seek to highlight the work they do and support their National Mini Forest Program in 2024 and beyond…


    1. Wilder Climate Solutions 
    2. Sustainably Chic - How the Fashion Industry Contributes to Deforestation 
    3. Canopy Planet 
    4. NBC - Fabric Hailed as Eco-Friendly; Rainforest Tells a Different Story 
    5. Canadian Geographic - The Many Benefits of Miyawaki Forests
            Photos by Jason Van Bruggen

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