Fibershed engages with small to mid-scale fiber producers and designers to support carbon-cycle literacy and build a regenerative textile economy, with the twin goals of creating a vibrant local market for climate-beneficial textiles and encouraging carbon sequestration in fiber-producing agricultural systems.

Promoting an understanding of the carbon cycle, sharing the latest research on compost applications on rangelands, and supporting our producer members’ transition towards carbon-beneficial farming practices, Fibershed furthers CCI’s mission of creating regenerative systems, in this case fiber systems, that reduce atmospheric carbon while promoting environmental stewardship, social equity and economic sustainability.

Project Impact

In 2011, Fibershed prototyped a “150-mile wardrobe” from regionally grown fibers, natural dyes and local labor that generated zero toxic fresh water effluent, reducing the CO2 footprint to one sixth that of conventional garments, and developing a network of over 200 urban designers and rural farmers willing to work together to build a new model for fiber systems.

Fibershed has also provided education to over 5,000 students, educators, producers, and textile brands on the principles of ‘regenerative fiber systems.’ There are currently 18 Fibershed communities working across the United States, Canada and Britain.

Opportunities and Barriers

Creating a vibrant local fibershed that can serve as a model for broader adoption will require a combination of public education, producer programs and market development efforts. Fibershed’s producer and market development programs are designed to directly support and improve our region’s regenerative textile supply chain, with 2014 projects including:

  • CCI/Fibershed collaboration to develop a Sonoma County wool and plant fiber producer carbon farming and composting education campaign;
  • Producer Program: Continuing carbon farming education and outreach including updates on the USDA-NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program and other funding sources to support farm/ranch carbon planning and implementation;
  • Support of Industrial Hemp Seed Trials, CO (May 2014) designed to test low-water, high biomass-yielding cellulose blending options for wool;
  • Public presentations and events focused on the ‘Soil-to-Soil’ carbon cycle concept, including the Wool Symposium planned for November 2014;
  • Life Cycle Assessment Comparison for Bast, Cotton, and Wool Fiber Farming.
  • Fibershed’s educational focus in 2014 is to create carbon-cycle literacy for all those who attend our classes, workshops and public presentations. We are simultaneously focusing our carbon-cycle curriculum within our producer community and to all those that manage agricultural “fiber producing” lands.

“A typical wool garment produced overseas has a net carbon footprint of 33 kg in CO2-equivalents. The Fibershed approach reduces that, and can in fact sequester nearly 38kg in CO2-e per garment.”
— Rebecca Burgess, Founder & Executive Director, Fibershed

Rebecca Burgess discusses Fibershed’s work as it relates to carbon and climate, at an April, 2014 webinar. For additional presentations from that webinar, visit Extension.