I recently learned about Rebecca Burgess who has been inspired to start a fiber co-op, called a Fibershed, that has been built using this same love of keeping things local. In a working Fibershed, folks combine forces with their neighbors to capitalize on their various fiber "processing" skills, like weaving, dying, hemp cultivation, spinning, and garment sewing, and then they join together to sell the combined products of the larger community.
So my question to you is, have you ever considered "dressing locally"? If you were required to dress yourself and your family using only fabrics or clothing manufactured within 200 miles of your own home, would you even know where to start?
Do you find in your community that people have developed the habit of buying clothing that is made inexpensively and without regard to the conditions under which those clothes are made? One of Rebecca's comments that really hit me between the eyes is her explanation about dyeing fabrics in the August 2013 issue of American Craft magazine. She talks in that article about the externalized costs of ecology and labor. Take the manufacture of blue jeans for example. "The face-value cost to shop at Walmart versus the real cost of shopping at Walmart: the Pearl River Delta [an industrial region in China], where most jeans are made [along with the resulting pollution]; genetically modified cotton fields; suicides related to that kind of practice because farmers are so deeply in debt" ...all of this is part of the narrative that Rebecca provides consumers about the way most of us in the US have gotten used to shopping for blue jeans: convenient, fast, inexpensive, and easily available. Perhaps you are ready to step away from this "fast-food" mentality regarding the way you dress? I know that I am!
Fibershed has created an online marketplace to connect farmers, artisans, and consumers. That choice means that the manufacturing of the clothing may not happen directly in your own community, but it does mean that you and I will be better informed about the health of the garments we buy. I am always in favor of supporting independent artisans.
Bullet Blues is a company in Florida that makes from American-made denim fashionable blue jeans that are sewn in Florida. For me, that's a step in the right direction.
Earth Creations is a company that I have recently found and find helpful in my desire to shop for clothing that is made in healthy circumstances. "The sewing facility where most of our garments are sewn is located in rural Alabama. Our employees are paid a fair wage and work in a clean and safe environment. They actually believe in what they do and enjoy their work. By providing local jobs, hopefully we help keep a piece of our rural American culture alive."
What resources have you found to dress locally where you live? Are you a fiber artist who would love to be connected with a Fibershed community in your town or city? I would love to hear from all of you!
Thanks for stopping by,