“Make stuff. Stay home. Draw. Dress locally. Hand wash. Learn to darn.”
– Sarah Swett
In our modern industrial world the ubiquitous t-shirt comes in as many colors as can chemically be manufactured, jeans are blue – not from woad or indigo, plastic particles clothe our bodies, dyes are polluting our waters and we are more disconnected from the Earth than we have ever been.
Synthetic fibers are becoming the norm, taking advantage of technology and supposed ingenuity. They are cheap to produce from a limited resource of oil and harmful chemicals, and they are readily available at any store near you, did I mention that they are cheap?
Finding clothing with only natural fibers can be a challenge. Not only is it like finding a needle in a haystack, the quality items tend to be on the more expensive end of the coin.
For starters it is an extremely responsible choice. When you buy wool from local farmers you are contributing to the health and vitality of a local landscape. When you hire someone to sew an outfit for your child you are helping a small business. When you learn how to spin, knit and crochet you are becoming self-reliant in your own clothes-making.
Natural fibers are compostable and 100% biodegradable after years of use (provided their integrity was not compromised by unnatural materials in the meantime). This means that they can safely be returned to the soil and with every crop of flax, organic cotton, hemp, sisal and coconut there is a new opportunity to hone your creative skills.
Don’t just go natural, go organic! Choose the healthiest fibers to put next to your sensitive skin, not only are sustainable fibers better for your health, the environment will be rewarded indefinitely.
Animal fibers have clothed the world for millenia and one of the best resources out there is The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook: More Than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn. With so many natural fibers to choose from fine wools to coarse and long curls, from super-soft angora bunnies to gleaming angora goat hair and to the llamas and alpacas that bring up the Camelid group, there is such an amazing diversity!
There is a lifetime of natural fibers to befriend and behold, let us not be satisfied with the plain knits and weaves that industry has created for us. Take fiber preparation into your own hands and marvel at why you never knew this before!
- from the botanical alchemist India Flint and her book: Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles
- from Rebecca Burgess, her Fibershed project and Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes
- from the amazing stitches of Alabama Chanin
An eco-minimalist will naturally have a smaller wardrobe, why not take the time to uniquely craft your own from sustainable fibers?
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We encourage you to jump out of your simplistic den and share your comments and own blog posts related to living a simple and natural life below.
What sustainable fibers are slowly finding their way into your wardrobe?