I know — it sounds too good to be true. Those of us who care to investigate know that behind the attractively trendy brand tags and attractively low price tags of the global clothing industry lies a tangled web of exploitation and environmental destruction — not to mention 10% of global carbon emissions. The 2013 Rana Plaza disaster that killed over a thousand garment factory workers in Bangladesh awakened many of us to the high (human and ecological) cost of “fast fashion.”
The good news is that the movement to create a more ethical apparel industry is gaining momentum, and there are lots of ways to be a part of it. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for some great resources.
But there’s more. What if we could have clothing be not only more ethical, not only “less bad” for the environment, but in fact beneficialin terms of climate?
It is happening. Fibershed, the California non-profit developing regional and regenerative fiber systems, is now certifying fiber farmers who grow Climate-Beneficial™ Wool and—for the first time this year—rolling out regionally grown and produced textile made of such wool.
What makes these textiles climate-beneficial? The wool fiber is sourced from California wool farmers who use regenerative farming practices such as managed grazing, conservation tillage, and compost application on pastures. These boost the soil’s ability to draw down and store carbon from the atmosphere. The resulting “climate-beneficial” clothing will, Fibershed hopes,
“become the new standard in a world looking to rapidly mitigate the effects of climate change. We see a nourishing tradition emerging 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.”
In other words, while “ethical” clothing is a good start, there’s so much further that we could potentially go. A regenerative, regional textile system could revitalize local economies and rural livelihoods, reconnect farmers, weavers, designers, and wearers in a mutually supportive web of relationships, take toxins out of our waterways and off our skins, and provide us with beautiful, durable garments far more meaningful than the $5 t-shirt that gets tossed after a few months. Not to mention it would help to build fertile, carbon-sequestering soil and help address one of the biggest challenges we collectively face.