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Farm to Closet in VT - What About Summer?

#MurielsofVermont is knitting up local & sustainable fibers you won't want to miss!

Laura in cap-sleeve cotton sweater. Courtesy of Muriel's of Vermont

A Regional Farm to Closet

I have spent quite a bit of time this past year searching for local farm to closet fashion. In fact, when I first met Laura from Muriel's I was at Green Mountain Spinnery trying to get some guidance. She happened to be there looking over yarn spun up for the business' industrial knitting machine. It was great to meet someone committed to producing goods and selling them locally (northern VT) and online. I knew I wanted to write about the business and the selection offered!

What's for Summer?

Even though New England farm to closet is more fall/winter clothing, Muriel's offers options for the hottest time of the year too! These garments are not local farm to closet but are sustainable fashion with an eye on reusing fibers and using man-made materials with the highest standards.

Why Recycled Cotton?

Summer knits are offered in a mix of recycled and organic cotton from Spain. Why these fabrics and not US materials? Spain has been perfecting methods of recycling cotton fibers for over a century. This industry isn't developed overnight and the reuse of fibers is important to a circular economy around clothing.

Why keep all fiber purchasing in Spain? The fiber is a blend of recycled and organic cotton that is created at a facility in Spain; therefore keeping all yarn local to Spain means less travel throughout production. The yarn is created there and then shipped to Vermont.

woman in knitted tank top from Muriel's of Vermont.
Beat the heat is this light knitted tank top. Courtsey of Muriel's of Vermont.

The Reasons Add Up

The cotton knitwear products from Muriel's are a blend of recycled cotton from Recover and organic cotton from Ferre, both based in Spain.

If you visit Recover's and Ferre's websites, you will see their dedication to transparent supply chains, circular economies around clothing, and the highest certifications for clothing manufacturing, such as Oeko Tech.

Although the distance from Spain to Vermont is approximately 3,400 miles, it is still a far cry from the average distance a top travels, about 5-10x farther with some garments traveling 35,000+ miles from farm to doorstep.

Another reason to use recycled and organic cottons when possible is water. Cotton requires LOTS of water. The numbers around how many gallons are needed to produce a t-shirt vary when searched online from a high of around 5,300 down to cotton grown in Australia at about 160 gallons per t-shirt. Organic cotton typically requires somewhere around 30% less.

In 2015, an average American used 82 gallons daily, so a t-shirt requires about one to two days of water at the lowest water usage and over a month for the highest water usage. That doesn't include the water used in processing the cotton into the t-shirt.

Recover's process of recycling cotton requires almost no water, so that recycled cotton offers a huge saving in a commodity that is becoming more scarce - water. Garments made with this fiber reduce water usage by half, making it clear that Spain's mixing of cotton fibers is not only important to a circular clothing economy but for water conservation, as well.

Me wearing a farm to closet wool sweater from Muriel's of Vermont on a cool day this past May.

True Farm to Closet Wool garments

You can check out everything Muriel's of Vermont has in stock here, and the selection is sure to grow as fall approaches. I'm certainly not trying to rush these summer months, but I'll plan to check back in when the leaves change to see what Muriel's has in farm to closet offerings, especially their wonderful wool pieces.

Fiber processing for farm to closet wool yarn is completed at the Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney, VT with fleeces purchased from farms in western MA, VT, and NH. That's why supporting this business means supporting Northern New England Regional fiber farmers too.

Sustainability Goes Beyond the Fiber

Muriel's is a 'just in time business,' which means you might need to wait a week for your garment to be made. But, with this method of manufacture, fiber waste is greatly reduced as there are no garments left unsold collecting dust. This in turn, adds to the sustainability of the clothing itself.

And, remember, these cotton and wool garments can be returned to soil after years of wear or recycled into new fiber. There are recycling facilities for clothing such as Material Return in NC and Recover plans to build recycling facilities in Mexico. So, by the time you have worn your garment for years, you will likely be able to send it be reborn, or return it to the soil through industrial composting locations, such as the facility in Brattleboro, VT.

Let's celebrate this approach to slow fashion with local or sustainable materials, and invest in companies dedicated to a circular economy around clothing!


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