Using unwanted invasive plants we can train community in traditional hand skills for new,local cottage industry textile production I mile diet urban cloth!
Invasive plants are one of the largest threats to biodiversity that our planet faces. Communities and governments spend huge resources in removal and control attempts but by finding uses for invasive plants we shift the paradigm. With the invasive biomass being usable - not sent to incinerators - but up-cycled into locally made clothing, baskets and other useful and beautiful objects, we can create a new cycle. This process uses what is unwanted and readily available while teaching traditional hand skills to a community of makers and revitalizing core survival skills such as weaving, spinning and basketry. Urban centres can host small collectives of spinner/weaver groups making local cloth and objects from the greenwaste around them.
Scotch Broom shows promise as a spinnable fiber for cloth production based on initial research that follows traditional methods in Italy with Spanish broom. The labour intensive process requires many hands, but provides opportunity for communities to be formed around a common goal that breaks down social, cultural and generation barriers in the process. Currently, invasive plant removal is a linear path that ends in a pile of unwanted biomass. Using the plant to a different end creates a cycle that makes the plants part of the system in a positive way. They now have a purpose and funding going into invasive control has a second agenda by feeding a creative community of producers that are sharing discoveries in processing while training community members with traditional hand skills. Best case scenario: Our unwanted Scotch Broom becomes beautiful garments, harvested, processed and made by local hands.
Gathering Scotch Broom is linked in with highway removal efforts. Raw material is passively processed in vats for a few weeks then community celebrations are hosted for processing. Live music, food, public participation in "dancing the broom" removes the outer bark layer, exposing the fiber which is then washed, sorted, dried and carded for spinning and weaving. Community members assist in each step, learning a new skill and appreciation for how cloth is made. A worker cooperative model could be established for payment in spun fiber to key participators of all steps for personal art production.
No known local models would be competitors. Fiber produced would be high end in cost and due to intensive work time, small or one-of-a-kind objects could be produced. A new industry standard for local cloth production from unwanted invasives could be created where the harvesting of the plant is tied to the stewardship of the land.