Treehugger: In the foothills of Nepal’s Himalayas, the Himalayan stinging nettle plants grows naturally in the wild. Ellie Skeele, founder of Himalayan Wild Fibers, is in the process of developing the nettle fiber industry with the local community. According to the Center for Sustainable Fashion, Himalayan nettle is the longest fiber currently known to humankind and is considered finer, stronger, and more elastic than linen. The development of this fiber would create work and income for many Nepalis and bring a durable and sustainable textile to market.
Photo-1: (Left) A Thami villager named Devi strips a Himalayan nettle stalk in Dolakha, Nepal. Credit: Ellie Skeele
Photo-2: (Right) One ton of Himalayan nettle bark ribbons in front of the Himalayan Wild Fibers office. Image via Himalayan Wild Fibers
The Himalayan nettle plants hold soil in place and help prevent landslides and erosion. They are grown without chemical fertilizers but with regular cutting of the stocks, according to Himalayan Wild Fibers. Most recently, Ellie Skeele and her team explored the possibilities of working with Thami villagers, an indigenous group of Nepal, in collecting nettle from their forests.
Photo-3 (Left): Nettle grows in the wild in Dolakha. Credit: Ellie Skeele
Currently, Himalayan Wild Fibers is seeking a designer to spin different blends of Himalayan nettle with other fabrics. An example of what wild nettle looks like as a finished garment, below.
Photo-4 (Right): An example of nettle fabric used in a tailored skirt by n.a.f Organic Clothing.
Credit: All Eco
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>