I have been listening to a new podcast this week, Sustainable World Radio. Jill Cloutier interviews innovative individuals who wholeheartedly embrace eco-friendly living. I just finished listening to Jill’s interview with the founder of the Fibershed Project. The woman who started this company, Rebecca, was inspired to create sustainable fabric after a trip she took to Southeast Asia, as she was struck by depressing images such as blackened water she saw pouring into waterways, lines outside of medical clinics and a sad energy in the air. The cause of this sick community became clear when she crossed a bridge and came upon the manufacturing site where fabric was being synthetically dyed. After returning home to Northern California, Rebecca conducted extensive research on these harmful practices and made it her mission to find a way to offer fabrics that are dyed naturally and cultivated in a sustainable manner.
The Fibershed Project inspired me to look into this matter a bit further and I learned the following alarming facts regarding this industry: synthetic dyes account for the largest contributor of water pollution on this planet; the chemicals used to produce certain dyes are often highly toxic and carcinogenic; and, in the United States deaths amongst factory workers from several cancers, cerebrovascular disease and lung disease are significantly higher – 40 times higher, for some diseases – than in the general population. In a moment of inspiration, I found the following companies that offer clothing made of naturally-dyed, organic materials. I can’t boast that I would ever have the willpower to give up many of the threads that I am so accustomed to wearing, but I will certainly attempt to support this type of manufacturing more often.