The Reversing Climate Change podcast with Nori
A podcast about the different people, technologies, and organizations that are coming together to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverse climate change. We also talk about blockchains.

#71: Creating Carbon Beneficial Fashion Through Fibersheds—with Becky Porlier of the Upper Canada Fibreshed

April 23, 2019


Mass-produced clothing generates 37 tons of CO2 for every ton of fast fashion, making it the second dirtiest industry in the world. But there is a better way. A way to produce clothes locally with natural fibers grown in regenerative ways. A way that is at least carbon neutral, if not carbon beneficial. And that method of hyperlocal textile manufacturing is facilitated by fibersheds.

Becky Porlier is the cofounder of the Upper Canada Fibreshed, a nonprofit dedicated to building a regional fiber system centered around local fibers, local dyes and local labor. An affiliate of the international Fibershed network, Becky and her team seek to nourish bioregional textile communities of producers and consumers who value soil health, sustainable agriculture, and the health of the biosphere. 

Today, Becky joins Ross, Christophe and guest host Lorraine Smith to explain the fundamentals of a fibershed, discussing how they serve as a climate solution. She shares her approach to engaging farmers and shepherds and describes how big brands might get involved in the fibershed movement. Becky also offers insight around the negative aspects of fast fashion in terms of poor working conditions and environmental destruction. Listen in to understand how consumer demand could affect change in the fashion industry and learn how you can be a part of the fibershed community!


Upper Canada Fibreshed

Lorraine Smith's website

Living Soils Symposium

Regeneration Canada

The Montreal Protocol

Alice Waters

Rebecca Burgess’ Blog


Peggy Sue Collection

Kevin Carson

Jacquard Loom

The Rana Plaza Disaster

Michelle Holliday

Carbon Removal Newsroom

Review RCC on iTunes

Connect with Ross & Christophe 


Nori on Facebook

Nori on Twitter

Nori on Medium

Nori on YouTube

Nori on GitHub

Email [email protected]

Nori White Paper

Subscribe on iTunes

Key Takeaways 

[2:03] How Montreal is a leader in the climate solutions space

[5:02] Becky’s path to reversing climate change

  • Outdoor kid with environmental leanings
  • Interest in food sovereignty during master’s studies
  • Inspired by Alice Waters+ Rebecca Burgess

[6:40] The fundamentals of a fibershed

  • Geography (way to think about resource base)
  • Labor, materials + skills necessary for clothing/textiles 

[7:48] How fibersheds serve as climate solutions

  • Fast fashion = highly intensive carbon footprint (37 tons of CO2per ton)
  • Fibershed garments either carbon neutral or carbon beneficial 

[11:17] Becky’s approach to engaging farmers and shepherds

  • Focus on reconnecting dislocated community
  • Frame as improving soil vs. carbon farming

[12:48] How to get big brands involved in the fibershed movement

[16:39] How regional systems would impact uniformity

  • Natural dyes available vary by region (e.g.: plants, tree bark)
  • Distinct differences among hyper-regionalized clothing 

[22:08] What makes fibersheds incredible carbon sinks

  • Leverage processes that enhance soil
  • Produced with renewable resources
  • Textiles have multiple uses, go beyond clothing

[26:41] The parallels between technology and textiles

  • Root of both words = weaving things together
  • Jacquard weavingcreates patterns with binary system

[30:04] What fibersheds can learn from other industries

  • Make systems more efficient
  • Update supply chain 

[31:29] The negative aspects of fast fashion

[35:52] The fastest way to facilitate change in the fashion industry

  • Starts with consumer demand
  • Conscious of where clothes grown and sewn

[37:26] How did natural fiber lose in the marketplace

  • Petroleum-based materials cheaper
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