Saturday, March 21, 2009

International Year of Natural Fibers

The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated 2009 as the "International Year of Natural Fibers". The objectives are to bring attention to and stimulate demand for natural fibers, to encourage worldwide governmental support, to foster international partnerships, and to promote the sustainability of fiber industries.

As a cashmere goat farmer and natural fiber enthusiast, I find this very exciting. Around 30 million tonnes (1 tonne = 2204 pounds) of natural fibers are produced annually. However, since the 1960s, the use of synthetic fibres has increased dramatically causing the natural fiber industry to lose much of their market share.

Textiles made of natural fibers have been a fundamental part of human life since the dawn of civilization. Fragments of cotton articles dated from 5000 BC have been excavated in Mexico and Pakistan. According to Chinese tradition, people began using silk in the 27th century BC. The oldest wool textile, discovered in Denmark, dates from 1500 BC.

While the methods used to make fabrics have improved since then, their functions have changed very little. Most natural fibers are still used to make clothing and containers and to insulate, soften and decorate our living spaces.

“Keep the Fleece” is an international natural fiber contest open to anyone. Final judging will be done by a panel of international experts in October at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY. Visit for more details. To learn more about natural fibers and the “International Year of Natural Fiber”, visit

Now, read those clothing tags and buy clothing made with natural fibers! No synthetic can compare - IMHO ;o)


  1. You have gotten quite the education. Next thing I know you'll be telling me about the fertile crescent.
    Like the educational aspect of the blog.

  2. Thanks Paula. You might be right about the fertile crescent - I am researching the history of textiles. Stay tuned...