When Rebecca Burgess was working in villages across Asia, she saw the impacts of the clothing industry firsthand: waste, pollution, widespread health problems. But in these same communities, from Indonesia to Thailand, Burgess also saw working models of local textile production systems that didn’t harm anyone. She was inspired to build a sustainable clothing system — complete with natural dye farms, renewable energy-powered mills, and compostable clothes — back home in the United States.
The result is Fibershed, a movement to build networks of farmers, ranchers, designers, ecologists, sewers, dyers, and spinners in 54 communities around the world, mostly in North America. They are ex-coal miners growing hemp in Appalachia and workers in California’s first wool mill. In five years, Burgess plans to build complete soil-to-soil fiber systems in north-central California, south-central Colorado, and eastern Kentucky.
People have asked her, “This has already left to go overseas — you’re bringing it back? Are you sure?” She is. Mills provide solid, well-paying jobs for people “who can walk in off the street and be trained in six months,” Burgess says. “This is all about dressing human beings at the end of the day, in the most ethical way that we can, while providing jobs for our home communities and keeping farmers and ranchers on the land.”
Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.
Over half a century ago, the American auto industry fought against seat belts. In 1970, they fought against the requirement that they install catalytic converters to reduce air emissions. They have opposed airbags and other safety standards as well. Today, they continue to fight against reducing emissions and improving fuel economy. The auto industry is very good at fighting government interference in the form of regulation, but seems to be OK about government interference in the form of a bailout. Despite the complaints of top management and lobbyists, auto engineers have managed to build the safest and cleanest vehicles in history, and if the Trump administration fails to roll back Obama-era requirements, this progress may well continue in coming decades. While the most visible political news last week was in Washington D.C. with the defeat of the new health care bill, a less visible piece of environmental politics was taking place in California. In the New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi reported that: California’s clean-air agency voted on Friday to push ahead with stricter emissions standards for cars and trucks, setting up a potential legal battle with the Trump administration over the state’s plan to reduce planet-warming gases… California can write its own standards because of a longstanding waiver granted under the Clean Air Act, giving the state — the country’s biggest auto market — major sway over the auto industry […]
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Environmentalists and Herbert Hoover have the same message. […]
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Our powerful photo of the day comes from Port St. Joe, Florida. […]