Tongue in Chic: The problems with cashmere: tips for smart shopping

first_img(Arielle Chen | Daily Trojan) Until now. Cashmere was once the provenance of the well-off; few could afford its hefty price tag. But nowadays, you can find cashmere for as little as $50. More people can just waltz into a fast-fashion store such as H&M or Uniqlo and stock up on cashmere sweaters, scarves and socks. How, you ask? The answer is as always when a price is too good to be true: through exploitation and overproduction.  Keep in mind that a $50 cashmere sweater won’t be anywhere near the same quality as a $200 one. Also, be aware that some products marketed as 100% cashmere have been found to contain yak fur or even rat hair. Save up and take care of your cashmere by occasionally dry cleaning them and storing them in bags, and it’ll last you a lifetime.  As a result, cashmere is knitwear’s ultimate luxury textile; it’s rare, it’s hard to harvest and it’s much more comfortable and delicate compared to scratchy fibers like lambswool or mohair. Starting all the way back in the 14th century, demand has always outpaced supply.  Cashmere gets its name from the Kashmir goat. These goats, which are native to the Himalayan mountains in China and Mongolia, must withstand extremely harsh weather. To cope with minus-30 degree Celsius temperatures, the goats grow two coats: a thick, coarse outer coat and a superfine, supersoft inner coat. The latter only makes up around a quarter of the goat’s total fleece, and they are the fibers that comprise cashmere. I was raised to revere cashmere. My mom owned a few cashmere sweaters, in grey, black and green, and when I touched them they were as soft and fluffy as clouds. Instead of hanging them up in the closet, she’d fold them neatly and slip them into Ziploc bags to stave off hungry moths. Historically, cashmere has originated from nomadic tribes who shepherd their flock of goats across the vast Mongolian steppes; in fact, cashmere is Mongolia’s second-highest earning export. But cashmere production has increased dramatically in recent years — almost 300% since the 1990s — which forces the herders to keep up by settling for lesser-quality wool and adding more goats. There are now over 61 million goats in Mongolia causing unsustainable, irreversible damage to the land through overgrazing. Kering’s Environmental Profit & Loss tool calculates cashmere as having 36%more environmental impact than plain old wool.  Cashmere is up to three times more insulating than sheep’s wool and much more expensive too. For one, it’s quite difficult to gather — most of this downy hair is collected by hand during the goats’ molting season. The average sweater requires hair from four to six goats, as the yield per goat is quite scarce, ranging from a few grams to about 0.5 kilograms — a number that gets reduced even further once the hair has undergone treatment and processing. One goat typically yields about 150 grams of cashmere per year.  Look, I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from experiencing their own slice of cashmere heaven. Feeling the fine, gauzy texture of cashmere against your skin is one of life’s great pleasures (at least, I think so). But at the very least, consume cashmere mindfully.  Kitty Guo is a senior writing about fashion. Her column, “Tongue in Chic,” runs every other  Monday. I was careful never to accidentally toss them into the washing machine with all the other laundry — these sweaters required a special trip to the dry cleaners. She gifted me one when I went off to college; when I slip it over my head, it’s snug and downy against my skin, as if I’ve sprouted a layer of fur. last_img read more

Determining ENERGY STAR specifications for highpower EV fast chargers proves challenging

first_imgThis article appeared in Charged Issue 42 – March/April 2019 – Subscribe now. SEE ALSO:The EV industry sees problems with California’s proposal to mandate credit card readers for public chargersCalifornia proposes DC metering standards for fast chargers, companies ask for more time Source: Electric Vehicles Magazinecenter_img The US EPA is proposing a new ENERGY STAR specification, Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Version 1.1, which adds DC fast chargers to the existing specification. The process of proposing the spec and considering stakeholder comments began in early 2018, and is ongoing. The EPA is proposing to release a Version 1.1 Draft 1 Specification in spring 2019, and to make the new specification effective in fall 2019.In response to the proposal, the EPA received letters from many different organizations in the industry expressing concern (including trade organizations, utility companies and a handful of charging companies).(This is one of a three-part report on new regulations that some argue could hold back EV charging development, originally published in Charged Issue 42 – March/April 2019.)One letter was signed by firms representing around 85% of the installed base of DC fast chargers in the US: ABB, BTCPower, Siemens, Delta, Efacec, EVgo, Siemens, Tritium and Tesla. At the center of their concerns is the proposed test method, which was initially created in a way that appears to be based on 50-kilowatt units, but that would apply to essentially all DC fast charging systems. Industry leaders fear that if the process is rushed and a spec is released too early, the result could be unintentionally picking winners and losers.The letter notes that DC fast charging technology is changing rapidly, and currently ranges from well-established 50 kW chargers to 350 kW chargers that just began to be deployed in 2018. As fleets of heavy-duty vehicles electrify, charging levels of over a megawatt, along with new, as-yet-unproven system architectures, will be deployed. “ENERGY STAR standards developed without careful deliberation and stakeholder input may lead the market to favor certain technologies over others,” said the letter.A letter from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) makes a similar point: “The complexity, diverse use cases and rapidly evolving technology of DC fast charging means that developing an effective specification will take much longer than the current timeline. Lengthening the timeline will allow for important stakeholder involvement and dialogue to improve the likelihood that EVSE 1.1 will not artificially favor one technology over another, or exclude future technological innovations from entering the market.”A spec that’s too sweeping might encourage manufacturers to limit the variations or features they offer to customers. For example, some vendors might wish to offer load management features that take away from their products’ energy efficiency, which could cause problems for customers that might be depending on California grant money that requires ENERGY STAR compliance.Also, ENERGY STAR has historically been a consumer advocacy program dealing with consumer appliances like refrigerators, microwaves and washer/dryers. Certification for AC charging makes sense, so consumers can be confident that they are buying energy-efficient charging stations. However, for high-power charging applications in commercial and fleet settings, determining standard modes of operation for an apples-to-apples efficiency comparison is much more challenging.The letter from the charging companies requests that the EPA: (1) limit the scope to well-understood charging technology which has already been deployed in the field for at least a few years, for example, DCFC systems rated at 50 kW or less; (2) extend and expand the process for developing the standard, including the timeline; and (3) allow self-certification and testing for compliance.last_img read more