Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

The 150-Mile Wardrobe: A Solution for One of the World’s Most Polluting Industries

Popular
The 150-Mile Wardrobe: A Solution for One of the World’s Most Polluting Industries
Fibershed / Facebook

By Araz Hachadourian

Between pesticides, chemical dyes and plastic, producing a typical sweater eats an enormous amount of natural and industrial resources. Apparel is one of the world's most polluting industries, and the U.S. sends up to 75 percent of its cotton abroad—only to ship it back as cheap T-shirts.


The Northern California Fibershed was designed to circumvent all that.

About 104 farmers, ranchers, weavers, spinners and designers across 19 counties make up a garment-producing system where every producer uses materials sourced within a 150-mile radius: A shop in Oakland buys marigolds from a farm in Chico to dye yarn shorn from sheep in Sonoma and weaves it into sweaters sold in San Francisco.

Fibershed founder Rebecca Burgess, Mike Lewis of Growing Warriors in Kentucky, and Arnie Valdez of Rezolana Institute in Colorado collaborate on hemp processing. Paige Green

The concept started in 2010 when textile artist and sustainability advocate Rebecca Burgess challenged herself for one year to wear only clothes produced near her community.

"Six weeks in, I still only had two items of clothing," said Burgess, who drew inspiration from Southeast Asian cultures with highly localized fiber production. "Your region can hold all you need to survive—that transformed my understanding of what was possible."

Piece by piece, she built a regional wardrobe and learned what resources were available nearby—and what was needed to "create a functional system out of an abundant system."

Since then, Burgess has been working in Northern California and across the country to help farmers and artisans connect and create their own regional fiber systems, first by analyzing the supply chain, then by connecting producers to each other. A complete circuit starts with the production of dye and fiber, which is processed, spun and turned into fabric, then handed to designers and makers before reaching the wearer.

At heart, the system is about connecting and respecting the gifts and limits of the land. Burgess said the system sequesters as much carbon from the atmosphere as it emits, and the organically dyed garments are compostable. The farmers plan to strengthen their network as an agricultural cooperative by the end of 2018.

"You realize you have such a community of people here who are helping you survive," Burgess said. "You become grateful to each other in ways that modern culture strips us of."

Reposted with permission from our media associate YES! Magazine.

Reintroducing wolves is on the ballot in Colorado. Gunner Ries / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Tara Lohan

Maybe we can blame COVID-19 for making it hard to hit the streets and gather signatures to get initiatives on state ballots. But this year there are markedly fewer environmental issues up for vote than in 2018.

While the number of initiatives may be down, there's no less at stake. Voters will still have to make decisions about wildlife, renewable energy, oil companies and future elections.

Here's the rundown of what's happening where.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A health care worker holds a test for patients suspected of being infected with coronavirus at the Center Health Vicoso Jardim on April 30, 2020 in Niteroi, Brazil. Luis Alvarenga / Getty Images

By Alexander Freund

The World Health Organization, along with its global partners in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, has announced that it will provide 120 million rapid-diagnostic antigen tests to people in lower- and middle-income countries over the next six months. The tests represent a "massive increase" in testing worldwide, according to the Global Fund, a partnership that works to end epidemics.

Read More Show Less

Trending

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on Sept. 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. Scott Olson / Getty Images

The first presidential debate seemed like it would end without a mention of the climate crisis when moderator Chris Wallace brought it up at the end of the night for a segment that lasted roughly 10 minutes.

Read More Show Less
Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The wildfires that roared through Eastern Washington in September had a devastating impact on an extremely endangered species of rabbit.

Read More Show Less
A protestor in NYC holds up a sign that reads, "November Is Coming" on June 14, 2020 in reference to voting in the 2020 presidential election. Ira L. Black / Corbis / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard

What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch