Rebecca Burgess is the co-author of the new book Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy. Her previous book was Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes.
If you listen to Tractor Time, then you likely care about where your food comes from and how it’s grown. But if you’re like us, clothing doesn’t always get the same consideration. We often talk about farm to table, but not farm to closet.
All of us buy clothing. We buy for comfort, for style, for status, for functionality. We have the brands we stick with. And, yes, sometimes we’ll spend a little extra for a garment made of something we feel virtuous about — an organic cotton t-shirt, maybe, or a pair of hemp slacks. But mainly, we look for things that look good, won’t wear out too quickly and protect us from the elements. But what is this often-opaque global supply chain of fast fashion really doing to our world and to us? What Rebecca describes in this interview and in her book is truly stunning and might just change the way you think about clothing forever.
As you listen to this interview, I suggest you do some laundry, or at least take a look in your closet. Are you as conscientious about your clothing as you are about your food?
In this conversation, Rebecca opens up her closet, somewhat literally, to us, and shines a bright light on a system that takes an enormous toll on our environment. She isn’t just exposing a broken system, however — she has a bold and hopeful vision for what a regenerative clothing system could look like. And it isn’t just about persuading big clothing brands to do the right thing. Her Fibershed movement is well underway, with more than 50 communities already participating.
Rebecca is the executive director of Fibershed. You can find out more about it at fibershed.org. Rebecca is also the chairwoman of the board for the Carbon Cycle Institute and a skilled weaver and maker of natural dyes.