We all know that the more carbon there is in our atmosphere, the more heat from the sun gets trapped and the more our planet warms.
Carbon itself isn't the bad guy. The sixth element on the periodic table is essential to life. The trouble is, we’ve released more carbon into the atmosphere than the natural system can absorb.
When our ecosystem is in balance, carbon is absorbed by oceans, atmosphere, plants, and soils.
So what’s the role of carbon in growing wool? Carbon isn’t the main greenhouse gas released by growing wool. Two other greenhouse gasses - methane and nitrous oxide - are more prevalent.
Methane comes from the rumant cycle of livestock and nitrous oxide comes from fertiliser as well as livestock urine.
ZQRX Project Coordinator Felicity Thomas explains that “carbon” is used colloquially these days to refer to all greenhouse gasses. A measurement has been developed to align these other emissions to carbon by working out their impacts on the climate over a 100 year period.
Methane, for example, only survives in the atmosphere for 10 years (compared to more than 100 for carbon) but it’s impact is much greater, so methane emissions are measured at 25 times that of carbon. Nitrous oxide is even more potent - it is measured at 298 times carbon.
Climate impact is one of the key indicators on the ZQRX index. “We’re looking at all the greenhouse gasses and what we can do to mitigate the effects on-farm and also increase the sequestration of carbon dioxide into vegetation and soils,” Felicity says.
ZQRX will help by collecting farm-specific data and helping farmers measure and reduce their emissions and find new ways to sequester more carbon. “The index is a way for growers to show and track their progress on carbon emissions.”
ZQRX wool growers not only produce the highest quality, most ethical wool in the world, they also work to give more than they take from the natural world, the animals living in that world, and the human communities interacting with it.
Growers use a new platform called the Regenerative Index (RX) to help them measure and improve how much they give back as they restore waterways, protect native species, offset carbon, and enhance local communities.
ZQRX wool is essentially a recipe for how we might produce and consume things in the future where products will not only change our lives for the better, they will change our entire world for the better by giving a little more than they take.