The fibershed challenge is to live for one year, in clothes made from fibers that are solely sourced within a geographical region no larger than 150 miles from my front door; this includes the natural dye colors as well!
*The textile industry is the #1 polluter of fresh water resources on the planet.
*The carbon footprint has been deemed the ‘elephant in the room’ by many in the industry–ranking as as the 5th largest polluter in the United States, where only a fraction of the industry even remains.
*The chemical cocktail used to soften, process, and then dye our clothing is attributed to a range of human disease–including chronic illness, and cancer.
*Even the most ‘eco-friendly’ synthetic dyes contain endocrine disrupters and the most commonly used dyes still contain heavy metals– such as cobalt, chrome, copper, and nickel.
*Labor is sought for cost first and foremost–not its quality, leading to massive exploitation and many unstable jobs.
In 1965, 95% of the clothing in a typical American’s closet was made in America, today less than 5% of our clothes are made here. Unfortunately, this huge movement of the industry was not done seeking higher standards of production, economic equity for laborers, or tight environmental regulation. It was done to circumvent the policies, unions, and costs associated with doing business on shore.
We have off-shored the effects of our consumption, which has led to a great disconnect of the actual environmental and social costs of our clothing.
The Fibershed project is inspired by the need to swing the pendulum of our production- and our consumption to a more balanced state, that supports the health of all humans and the greater ecological system of which we are apart; through the re-integration of organic fibers, natural dyes, and a regional base that supports local communities and economies.
In my community alone thousands upon thousands of pounds of wool are composted or thrown into the landfills each year. We have a 13% unemployment rate, all the while if you go to a store to buy a wool undershirt– the raw material is from New Zealand, and the production from China.
The Fibershed concept was coined in response to this extreme situation–with the inspiration that farming, milling, production and manufacturing could once again live in balance with the land we call home.
Without mills– and with very little processing available to us, the Fibershed wardrobe will be created primarily by hand, with several exceptions. Dye colors will come from a variety of cultivated and tended native species. A team of dedicated artisans has come together to see the clothes manifest.
The objective is to create and model a bioregional wardrobe that speaks the language of the landscape, through its use and care of local fibers–manipulated by the hands of local artisans, dyed in the botanic abundance of our lands.
The Fibershed module will be offered up as a template to be replicated by communities everywhere. With a strong online presence, utilizing film, photography, and journal entries to document the process– the work of Fibershed will exist as a teaching tool for students, communities, businesses, and government.