(Past program) Read Between the Ravines 2022

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"A sharp angle on the hot topics of globalisation and sustainability, seen through the 'biography' of a pair of jeans. Bédat illustrates the environmental, economic and social pressures building up in the global fashion and garment industry and uncovers the unseen consequences of our thoughtless shopping choices." —Financial Times Best Business Books of 2021

"'Unraveled' is a book for our times. Impeccably researched, with vivid storytelling, it eloquently uses the fashion industry as a metaphor for a new system of moral capitalism that puts people and planet first." —Paul Polman, Former CEO of UNILEVER, Vice-Chair of UN Global Compact

"Bédat provides the framework for us to balance a personal reckoning with the systemic shifts that must occur to save the fashion industry from the worst parts of itself. Whether you are an avid shopper or a critic of consumerism, this book holds truth for you." —Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, Women's March organizer


About the Book

In "Unraveled," entrepreneur, researcher, and advocate Maxine Bédat follows the life of an American icon—a pair of jeans—to reveal what really happens to give us our clothes.

We visit a Texas cotton farm figuring out how to thrive without relying on fertilizers that poison the earth. Inside dyeing and weaving factories in China, where chemicals that are banned in the West slosh on factory floors and drain into waterways used to irrigate local family farms. Sewing floors in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are crammed with women working for illegally low wages to produce garments as efficiently as machines. Back in America, our jeans get stowed, picked, and shipped out by Amazon warehouse workers pressed to be as quick as the robots primed to replace them. Finally, those jeans we had to have get sent to landfills—or, if they've been donated, shipped back around the world to Africa, where they're sold for pennies in secondhand markets or buried and burned in mountains of garbage.

"Unraveled" is not just the story of a pair of pants, but also the story of our global economy and our role in it. "Unraveled" challenges us to use our relationship with our jeans—and all that we wear—to reclaim our central role as citizens to refashion a society in which all people can thrive and preserve the planet for generations to come.

Go to the catalog to borrow "Unraveled" by Maxine Bédat


About the Author

Maxine Bédat is the founder and director of New Standard Institute (NSI), a think-and-do tank using data to drive accountability in industry. She is also the author of the book "Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment," which has been longlisted for the Financial Times/ McKinsey Business Book of the Year.

Prior to NSI, Maxine co-founded and was the CEO of Zady, a fashion brand and lifestyle destination creating a transparent and sustainable future for the apparel industry. For its work in sustainability, Zady was named one of the world’s "Most Innovative Companies" in retail by Fast Company.

Bédat has been recognized by Oprah in her Super Soul 100 for leaders elevating humanity. She has been regularly featured as an expert by Bloomberg, the Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue, Forbes, Business of Fashion, and CNN.

Bédat began her career in international law working at the Rwandan Criminal Tribunal and Allen & Overy, and received a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School.

Events & Discussion

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Thank you for attending these 2022 events with us

  • "Unraveled" book discussions
  • Sustainable Fashion presented by Amanda Lee McCarty
  • No-sew T-shirt Tote Bag
  • "Deep Water Horizon" movie viewing
  • "Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America's Cheap Good" by Amelia Pang book discussion
  • "Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion" documentary viewing
  • "Girl in Translation" by Jean Kwok book discussion
  • How to Build a Capsule Wardrobe presented by Jamie Novak
  • Sashiko Mending
  • "The September Issue" movie viewing
  • The Environmental Impacts of Fast Fashion panel discussion by Lake Forest High School students
  • An Evening with Maxine Bédat

RBR on Beanstack

Join us in the 2022 Read Between the Ravines Beanstack Challenge! Challenge finishers are entered in a drawing for a chance to meet Maxine Bédat and receive a free copy of "Unraveled" to be signed after the April 4 event at Gorton Community Center.

To complete the challenge:

  • Read or listen to "Unraveled" by Maxine Bédat.  
  • Attend a Read Between the Ravines event in either Lake Forest or Lake Bluff.
  • Re-purpose a garment to give it new life and extend its use.  
  • Take a photo of your re-purposed item and share it with Lake Forest Library via email at reference@lakeforestlibrary.org or post your photo and tag Lake Forest Library on social media.

Copies of "Unraveled" are available for checkout at Lake Forest Library. Call us at 847.234.0636 or browse the catalog to find and reserve a copy.

Get started with the Beanstack app:

  1. Download the free Beanstack app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play App Store.  
  2. Then select "At my library, school, or bookstore."
  3. At the bottom, tap on "Find a site."
  4. Search for "Lake Forest Library" and choose it from the search results.
  5. Sign up for a Beanstack app account with your email and create a password.
  6. Under "Discover" select the "Read Between the Ravines 2022 Challenge."

If you prefer, you can create a Beanstack account and access the RBR Challenge by visiting the Library's Beanstack page.


Resources: Reconsidering Fast Fashion

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Thank You to Our Partners

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