We envision the emergence of an international system of regional textile supply chains that enliven individual community connection and ownership of ‘Soil-to-Skin’ processes. These diverse textile cultures are designed to regenerate the natural systems on which they depend, while directly enhancing the strength of regional economies. Fiber systems–like food systems, are dependent upon agricultural processes that now face a drastically changing climate, and must utilize the best of time-honored knowledge and available science for their long-term ability to thrive.
As each Fibershed manages their resources with an eye toward creating a permanent and lasting textile culture; these efforts to take full responsibility for a garment’s lifecycle will diminish pressure on highly polluted and ecologically undermined areas of the world. (China produces 52% of the world’s textiles. The industry is the third largest fresh water polluter in the country.)
Future Fibershed communities will rely upon renewable energy powered mills that will exist in close proximity to where the fibers are grown. Through strategic grazing, integrated systems management, and conservation tillage our farming practices will create climate beneficial clothing that will become the new standard in a world looking to rapidly mitigate the effects of climate change. We see a nourishing tradition emerging… one that connects the wearer to the local field where the clothes were grown, building a system that can last for countless generations into the future…re-defining what it means to be truly sustainable.
The project began with a commitment by its founder, Rebecca Burgess to develop and wear a prototype wardrobe whose dyes, fibers, and labor were sourced from a region no larger than 150 miles from the project’s headquarters. Burgess had no expected outcomes from the personal challenge other than to reduce her own ecological footprint and maybe inspire a few others. Burgess teamed up with a talented group of farmers and artisans to build the wardrobe by hand, as manufacturing equipment had all been lost from the landscape more than 20 years ago. The goal was to illuminate that regionally grown fibers, natural dyes, and local talent was still in great enough existence to provide this most basic human necessity– our clothes. Within months, the project became a movement, and the word Fibershed and the working concept behind it spread to regions across the globe, with at least 15 similar projects now underway in different parts of the world. Burgess founded the Fibershed Marketplace in 2011 to inspire the team of artisans and farmers to stay together in a state of collaboration through a cooperatively run green business model. In 2012, Burgess founded Fibershed’s 501c3 to address and educate the public on the environmental, economic, and social benefits of de-centralizing the textile supply chain, for the purpose of creating regional, resilient, and community organized textile cultures that support rural and urban cross-collaboration.
- Zero toxic dye effluent
- Zero pesticides or herbicides, genetically modified organisms, or synthetic biology
- Sustained a regional community of artisans and farmers that continue to collaborate and grow in number
- Reduced CO2 impact in the cases we were able to measure by 6X that of conventional equivalents, proving to us that clothing can be made in a climate sensitive manner.