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The Fiber Arts Generation Gap

Did you know there's a "generation gap" in the fiber arts? Here in NYC, textile arts students at FIT, Parsons, and Pratt have sustainability education included in their core curriculum. These students are extremely anxious about the pollution caused by the textile industry. In general, designing and creating within a sustainable framework is of the utmost concern to the younger generation of weavers, textile designers, and fiber artists.

The textile industry is the second most polluting in the world:

  • 20% of industrial water pollution globally is attributable to the dyeing and treatment of textiles. "Treatment" refers to the thousands of chemicals that may be added to textiles, such as formaldehyde used promote color fastness and prevent wrinkling. ( )

  • 35% of microplastics released into the world's oceans are from synthetic textiles. For example, polyester sheds microscopic plastic fibers every time it is washed. (Institution of Mechanical Engineers 2018 report: Engineering Out Fashion Waste)

  • In 2015, greenhouse gas emissions from textile production totaled more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. (

Our guild encourages members to incorporate sustainable practices into their weaving and fiber arts. For example, NYGH president Carol Steuer has been weaving bath mats using cloth reclaimed from t-shirt manufacturing and guild member Gigi Matthews presented The Eco-nomics of the Fiber Arts at a MidAtlantic Fiber Association meeting last May. NYGH members, if you have been working with sustainable materials and practices, please share your projects with the guild at our Show & Tell sessions!

If you would like to learn more about sustainability in regards to your weaving and fiber arts, CLICK HERE to visit the MidAtlantic Fiber Association's sustainability page.


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