Cate Havstad-Casad – Why are we okay in wearing fossil fuel, oil-based clothes on our bodies?

A conversation with Cate Havstad-Casad, founder at Range Revolution, farmer rancher on a regenerative farm in central Oregon, designer and food system activist, about how the fibres of the clothes we wear every day are made of petroleum or are coated in plastics and other petroleum chemicals.


We pay so much attention to what we eat, how it’s produced, how it travels to us, the nutrient density etc., but most of us every morning put on clothes of which the majority of fibres is made of petroleum. What could be the role of the fashion industry in changing this narrative, and how could they be leading the regenerative transition, starting with leather?


The bigger brands need to use the capital they have to be catalytic in helping them to scale these regional aggregation projects because they are struggling with the fact that the regenerative hides are mostly coming out of mid-sized systems.

“So, we need to rebuild the aggregation of the middle just like we are rebuilding the processing of the middle. And we are rebuilding the distribution of this middle size of agriculture, we have systems that support the very small and tiny systems of agriculture, like farmers’ markets, CSAs, direct to consumer models. And then we have distribution models that support the giant industry, but we’ve lost this ag of the middle support. And so that is where you’re going to find a scalable regenerative sourcing solution, but it takes catalytic capital to rebuild this.” – Cate Havstad-Casad

We also need that catalytic capital to support the transition. Much like we have transitional organic, we need to have systems that support these producers on their journey to first start monitoring because you can’t prove regenerative outcomes until you start monitoring. […] So those brands need to deploy catalytic capital to rebuild the mid-size aggregation that is scalable. And then it needs to also support the transition through commitment.” – Cate Havstad-Casad


We are all artists working in our own industries to solve big problems- says Cate- and we have seriously a tangible impact to make.

We are now meeting some of these, I’ll say capital artists, who are helping learn how to deploy capital in artful ways to really propel this work.”– Cate Havstad-Casad

If I can’t reconnect this to your world, which is the art of creating an investment, the art of catalytic capital, we will continue to follow these old models of moving capital around that don’t actually inspire innovation. In fact, it restricts innovation, or investors can think of themselves as capital artists, how am I going to get creative and how I deploy this capital to inspire innovation and systems change?” – Cate Havstad-Casad

I have founded this group that I am working on, on the West Coast, Range Revolution. It is doing its work to support this whole carcass utilization and this waste issue in leathers in hides. But it takes these co-conspirators who are also working on the slaughterhouse floor, on the distribution side, on finding homes for the bones and the fat and the awful, and this group that’s amassing here on the West Coast. – Cate Havstad-Casad


According to Cate, you’ve got mission-driven finance, doing a lot of different creative deployment of capital. Those groups have partnered with mission-driven finance to create a fibre fund that is focusing on cotton, linen, leather, natural dyes, etc.

I don’t want to recreate whether are already really great models for deploying capital. So I’ll just sort of point to some people who I see doing excellent work, and I would deploy more capital to them. First and foremost, people like Mad Capital and Dan (Miller) from Steward, the work that they’re doing in getting flexible capital that supports transition on land. We have been the benefactor of the Perennial Fund from Mad Capital, and it has allowed us to take over more land and transition it to organic.” – Cate Havstad-Casad

A lot of these people whom I see deploying capital, I think, in some of the strongest ways, are ones that are getting dollars into the producers’ hands. And I’ve seen the most catalytic change when you really just put dollars into the most innovative producers’ hands, things move quickly, if you want to get things done, work with producers who know how to bootstrap and know how to move quickly and be efficient. I would really be reinvesting in the systems that are rebuilding, processing and distributing for ag of the middle. […] And we’ve kind of saved the small, and we have the small, we have flourishing farmers markets, and CSA programs. But we really let go of those systems of the middle. And that is what our generation is in the midst of, we are building those systems of the middle.” – Cate Havstad-Casad


Koen and Cate also talked about

  • Traceability of leather
  • Shifting cultural narratives through design
  • The connection between fibre and the soil




Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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