anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Posts Tagged ‘sustainable

Wool Sponges by Full Circle Wool

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At the end of last year, I bought a set of wool sponges from Marie Hoff (you can wash with wool, not just wear it!). I had met Marie while on a bicycle trip down the Pacific Coast two summers ago, and I have a lot of respect for all the work that she does. She herds Ouessant sheep, is an advocate of carbon farming, and last year she launched Full Circle Wool, selling climate beneficial wool and wool products.

I did a Q&A with her over on Food and Fibers Project and wanted to share a snippet here.

“We need to bring domestic processing and manufacturing back to the United States. We don’t have a diversity of industrial mills that do custom work anymore. There’s only one scouring mill in the country that will clean coarse wool on the commercial scale I need, and they are overloaded. In California alone, where I am based, we produce over 3 million pounds of wool every year. Every small scale mill that’s operating is overloaded, and we only process .03% of all that wool each year here in California. The majority of it goes overseas, and is washed with synthetic chemicals, often mixed with synthetic fibers, dyed with synthetic dyes based in coal tar, and then shipped back to the US for us to consume. About 20% of it just sits in people’s barns or goes directly into the landfill, as it can be more expensive to sell the wool than to raise it and leave it.

Especially for people who raise sheep on the coast, there’s very little incentive to sell the wool because the breeds of sheep that thrive on the coast produce coarse wool, which is lower value than fine wool, like merino. Even though their families have a tradition of appreciating wool, many just consider the wool to be a byproduct of raising meat. The lamb sales are their livelihood. In order to get ranchers a return that they can make a living on, and still produce a product that most people can afford, we need that critical link of a commercial-scale mill that can process wool locally, efficiently, and for not too high a cost. The more we can prove a demand for locally grown, locally processed, and natural fibers, the more demand there will be for milling, and the more likely investors and entrepreneurs will be in investing in that type of facility. We need more demand for, and support of, local agriculture and healthy land stewardship.”

That’s part of our longer conversation. Check out the full Q&A here.

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Written by Anna Brones

February 26, 2018 at 13:28

Are Women the Solution to a More Sustainable Food System?

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Are Women the Solution to a More Sustainable Food System?

I have been very inspired by the work of Audra Mulkern and her Female Farmer Project. She recently inspired me to write an article about women and farming over on Foodie Underground, titled “Gender Equality and Sustainable Food: The Power of Women Farmers.”

Here’s a little excerpt:

In the U.S., while between 1982 and 2007, the USDA’s Economic Research Service found that the number of women-operated farms had more than doubled, there’s still a gender gap. According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, 86 percent of the 2.1 million people responsible for day-to-day operations of farms are men. But there are more women coming to the farming world, and in a time when the total number of farms is declining, the number of women-owned farms and women farmers is on the rise. Today women make up about 30 percent of all U.S. farmers – and often, they take a more sustainable approach. Which means that when we think about a more sustainable world of food, not just at home, but globally, we have to be thinking about women.

And if we are going to think about women, then we have to start seeing them too. Audra Mulkern of the Female Farmer Project knows all about that. A talented, self-taught photographer, a couple of years ago, Mulkern decided to launch a projected devoted to documenting the world of women farmers. Inspired by the women farmers in her local Snoqualmie Valley, Mulkern has set out to tell the stories of female farmers. “I noticed over a couple of seasons of visiting farmers markets and farms that there was a marked increase in female interns. I started asking around and decided it was a story I needed to tell,” says Mulkern. Since launching the project, she has photographed women farmers in five different countries, becoming a big advocate for sustainable agriculture and food justice along the way.

You can read the full article here. And I encourage you to give Audra and the Female Farmer Project a follow!

Image: Audra Mulkern

Written by Anna Brones

July 8, 2015 at 11:03

What Does Good Food Mean To You?

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It has happened again. You’re surrounded by smoke-infused drinks in mason jars and salads with shaved fennel, all paired with a group of friends that can’t stop raving about the local biodynamic wine they serve at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that you’re all so lucky to have discovered before the rest of the city does. You’re in foodie central and there’s no escape. Fortunately the beet and goat cheese salad is delicious. “Can I have another one of those cocktails with the cardamom bitters?” you ask the waiter, fully embracing a semi-cliche role that feels like it’s straight out of a Portlandia episode.

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Written by Anna Brones

March 19, 2012 at 14:56

H&M Spring 2009 Line Gets More Sustainable

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The great thing about my job is that I get to do a lot of writing about sustainable design. But it’s mostly outdoor and travel related, which is why I maintain this site. Think about it: H&M and Wend don’t really mix. But the Swedish born company definitely deserves a mention for their incorporation of sustainable fabrics like organic cotton and recycled PET.

hmorganic_springwomens1

H&M has been using organic cotton for a few years now. In fact last year they used about 3,000 tons of organic cotton and this year plan on 4,500. This is however the first that I have heard of the company using recycled PET (basically recycled plastic bottles broken down into small chips and then spun until polyester fiber) in their clothes. And not only that, but they’re bringing in textile remnants and recycled cotton.

Thanks to Inhabitat for tipping me off!

[Photos: Inhabitat]