5 Ways You Can Strengthen Our Fibershed While Sheltering in Place

By Jess Daniels

It’s clear that our economy is shifting. A chasm has formed, and it’s uprooting so many systems that have been dysfunctional for far too long — systems that harm human and ecological health. Fashion and material culture are part and parcel of those systems. We see that the industry that clothes us, blankets us, and shelters us is — like many — in a tailspin as global supply chains are disrupted or halted, as fast fashion retail stores close up shop, and as many of us reconsider our purchases and actions for the betterment of our community.

As mentioned in our previous article, we at Fibershed have been working quickly to provide support for our producer network and to connect with colleagues and collaborators to ensure critical support for regional economies.

For those of us sheltering in place at home, this moment is an opportunity to contribute to reimagining and restructuring the value chains and relationships that provide for our basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter. This is a moment when our local producers and workers are providing vital services, so how can we do our part to strengthen local systems within our fibershed while sheltering in place?

We invite you to join us by engaging with practices, key learnings, and actions so that together we can rebuild an economy rooted in right livelihoods, regional manufacturing, and material production that regenerates soil health.

1. Learn how regional fiber and dye systems are critical to climate stability and resilient economies

2. Become a slow fashion steward of your wardrobe

  • Download our free Clothing Guide, and share it with your friends and family: inside, you’ll find 4 principles to changing clothing consumption, a guide to the common ingredients in your wardrobe, and recommendations for where to shop when new items are needed
  • Learn to mend to extend the life of your wardrobe — now is a great time to try your hand at visible mending, patchwork, and darning to reduce textile waste and express creativity. In addition to the wealth of virtual inspiration for #visiblemending, artists including Katrina Rodabaugh, The Far Woods, and Heidi Iverson generously offer tutorials on social media to get you started.
  • Brush up on best practices for clothing care to reduce your carbon and water footprint: we checked in with researchers, artists, and waste reduction enthusiasts to compile tips from the Fibershed community to shift the impact of our clothing. 

3. Experience the alchemy of local color in your garden, neighborhood, or pantry

4. Make something to support your community

  • As Spring arrives, the annual fiber production cycle continues, bringing more beautiful fiber into mills and the hands of makers. Your yarn purchases support producers in continuing the cycle from soil to skin. The Fibershed Knitalong patterns are designed specifically to support a range of yarn weights and qualities, and we invite you to cast on a locally grown garment or accessory with regionally raised yarn or handspun created from local roving.
  • Clothing manufacturers and home sewists alike are already springing into action to supply fabric masks to community members who lack protective equipment. It has been researched and reported that fabric masks are not well suited for medical teams working on the frontlines of the novel Coronavirus, making masks and gear available to others in the community may offer a way to ensure that frontline workers have access to the more technical protective personal equipment they need. Here are there emerging opportunities across the Fibershed community:

5. Enhance the drawdown of excess carbon from the atmosphere into the soil