Growing a movement of farmers, fashion activists, and makers for a new textile economy. Co-authored with Courtney White.
There is a major disconnect between the clothes we wear and our understanding of their impact on the environment, labor, and human health. Weaver and natural dyer, Rebecca Burgess has spent the last decade mending that gap by reconnecting to her local "fibershed" – the region of North Central California containing the materials and people required to make her clothing.
This community of ranchers, farmers, and artisans became an inter-connected network of textile creators driven by economic justice and soil restoration.
Today, upwards of fifty communities around the world have begun to organize their fibershed systems, piloting the regionally focused farm-to-closet model.
A call to action to everyone involved in textiles – from handcrafted to haute couture – Fibershed advocates for a focus on "the source of the raw material, the transparency with which it is converted into clothing, and the connectivity among all parts, from soil to skin and back to soil."
Burgess educates us about the political ecology of clothing and challenges us to think, spend, and dress with our health and the good of the planet in mind.
Copyright 2019, softcover, 288 pages.
Praise for Fibershed
"If we want to offer hope to future generations, we will have to root not only the food we eat, but the clothing we wear in new, regenerative agriculture that manages livestock using the holistic planned grazing process. Rebecca Burgess's well-researched book stokes a fire that has already been lit by many organizations collaborating and networking around the globe, and connects teh dots between our clothing and our life-supporting environment. I would encourage everyone who wears clothes and has any concern for future generations to read this book."
– Allan Savory, president and cofounder, Savory Institute; author of Holistic Management
"From the living world around her, Burgess has stitched together the broken strands of textile arts, creating an economy of place where makers are artists and clothing is revered."
– Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest; editor of Drawdown
"A visionary manifesto of hope. Bugess chronicles a personal journey with profound global implications: Human economies need not result in the degradation of either human culture nor the environment, but might, if done well, lead to the enrichment of both."
– Jeffrey Creque, PhD, Director of Rangeland and Agroecosystem Management, Carbon Cycle Institute
"Burgess is the Alice Waters of the slow fiber movement. Fibershed is required reading for any clothing company that claims environmental and ethical responsibility."
– Dan Malloy, surfing ambassador, Patagonia; cofounder, Poco Farm, Ojai, CA
This book was really eye-opening for me. I've studied and read extensively on the food system, regenerative agriculture, and environmental issues in general, but this is the first time I really thought about the larger implications of fiber and textile production. Other authors have critiqued the problems with growing cotton, but this book takes a much broader look at fiber from animals, crops, and synthetic chemicals. She also delves into the issue of the dyes used on fabrics and the potential risks posed by putting some of these chemicals in constant contact with our very permeable skin. For many people who are utterly devoted to eating organic produce to minimize their chemical exposure, this problem is not even on their radar screen. For that alone, I think this book makes an important contribution. There is so much more too the book than just identifying the problems, though. I admire how the author has actually lived her values by wearing clothes from her local fibershed for a whole year. She shares what she has learned about the difficulties not so much in producing fiber in sustainable ways (the regenerative ag community has plenty to contribute on this side of the equation) but in manufacturing fabric and clothing from those fibers in the U.S. when most of our textile industry has already moved abroad to exploit cheaper labor and lack of environmental regulations in other countries. We almost have to start from scratch here, using hand methods and piecing together machinery to try to automate the most labor-intensive processes, while competing for consumer dollars in a market where you can buy a cotton T-shirt for three bucks. There is a rough road ahead to make textiles more truly sustainable (in the full sense of environment-society-economy) and to rebuild regional fibersheds that can support a thriving industry. The author demonstrates that the fibershed movement has begun and is very promising, but it has a long way to go. First, people have to learn to care about this issue as much as they care about food and health, and this book is an important step in making that happen.