What Is Fibershed?
Fibershed is a geographical area that is bound together by the local natural fibers that it grows, dyes, processes, buys and wears, supporting the micro economy that results.
Fibershed began in 2010 in Northern California as the brainchild of Rebecca Burgess who had a vision for natural textiles that are grown, processed, marketed, bought, sold and worn locally--- a bioregional supply chain-- supporting communities that employ natural resources and textile arts to produce sustainable, recyclable products.
Rebecca modeled her concept after a "foodshed" (the region where food is produced and consumed), and a watershed (the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place), both of which emphasize the importance of being good stewards of local business and resources. Like a foodshed or watershed, a fibershed is a geographic region where all the fibers and dye plants for garments can be sourced. Burgess believes that “fiber will follow food” into public awareness.
Fibershed parallels the Slow Food movement which has its beginnings as an alternative to fast food. An international movement, Slow Food encourages the preservation of ethnic and regional foods by farming plants, seeds and livestock traditionally found in local ecosystems.
Fiber is an essential for clothing, one of the basics of life, and right up there with food and shelter. Natural fibers derived from animals and plants are arguably the most viable fibers in the effort to establish eco-friendly textiles. They can be recycled in hundreds of ways, are biodegradable when they have outlived their use, and every region of the world has a source of natural fiber.
Textiles have become the #2 contributor to water pollution worldwide (Agriculture is #1). In the U.S., textile manufacturing has the #5 carbon footprint. Chemicals used to prep and dye fibers commercially have been found to contribute to many chronic illnesses, including cancer. Synthetic dye uses heavy metals such as cobalt, chrome, copper, and nickel are toxic to the environment even when disposed of carefully.
In order to lower costs, most textile companies have outsourced their labor to countries where wages and conditions are unregulated, and quantity is more important that quality. Less than 5% of clothing sold in the U.S. is made here, and the majority of clothing contains at least some synthetic fibers.
• Let's bring the growing and manufacturing of our clothing HOME!
• Let's support LOCAL business!
• Let's make our clothing ECO-FRIENDLY, from start to finish!
In a perfect world, all fiber would be…
• replenish the micro-economy of a defined bioregion.
For articles chronicling the beginnings of Fibershed in Northern California, here are some links: