Quilting, Textiles and Environmental Concerns
“Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
By Gro Harlem Brundtland
I am a chronic learner. I decided, at the age of 50, to return to school and finish my BA degree in Environmental Studies. I have had environmental concerns guiding my decisions in my life for over 25 years as I built my home off-grid, raised my children in an alternative community, chose to drive efficient vehicles and worked in an industry trying to help builders and homeowners reduce their carbon footprint. When I decided to return to my art and create a small business out of it, I felt the need to bring this ethos into my work.
The State of the Textile Industry
The textile industry is a large contributor to Greenhouse Gases (GhGs) globally. The industry expanded and grew as demand grew following the industrial revolution and the environmental impacts of the damage are still being felt today. The way in which environmental impacts are assessed is complex. Not only is there a carbon footprint that involves many phases, there is also a social and economic impact as well.
There are many different certifications, labels and systems in place and being developed to hold textile industries accountable and to give consumers transparent information on the practices of the businesses that use them.
The Create and Sustain Org in the US has compiled an excellent resource on certifications in the textile industry
Bridget Talks about Sustainability as a Guest with Quilter on Fire
Being sustainable in the textile industry is a difficult problem to navigate. There are many views on exactly what sustainable is and I have selected what works best for me. I am driven to make beautiful things, to represent what inspires me artistically.
I look for sustainably and ethically manufactured materials and supplies. I look for local, natural, indigenous, recycled content, recycle-able content. These things are not always readily available to me and I have to make choices in order to still be able to create.
Finding products that meet sustainability standards can be challenging. I have started to curate eco-friendly threads, stabilizers and pre-printed panels to support thread painting in a sustainable way. I carry rPet threads from Guttermann and Metler. More sustainable threads will be coming soon.