Earth Day came and went while I was on my Social Media Sabbatical for Lent, but I wanted to share some thoughts before the month is completely over.
The shirt on your back may not seem to be connected to the state of the planet, but really it is. I’m wearing a Wonder Woman pajama top as I type this, and as cute as it is, the process of getting it made and to a store where I could buy it for less than $15 probably wasn’t a good or healthy one for the people involved or God’s Green Earth as a whole.
Fashion is more than a way to express yourself or a way to try to fit in. It’s not typically thought of as something serious, but it’s actually a powerful economic force that has generated more money than top automakers some years.
It’s also, unfortunately, a major source of pollution, waste and human rights abuses. Cheap clothing that’s made by exploited people and falls apart is the norm, and when you stop to think about it, well, it feels kind of gross.
Check out this for a glimpse of the True Cost
I’m happy to say that there are people and companies who are trying to shift the polluted tides on the fashion industry and even if they’re baby steps, they have potential to grow into greater change for good.
Since I’m all about trying to focus my choices on how they make me feel, I’m looking for better options than the cheap, albeit cute, crap, which isn’t the easiest thing for a bargain hunter like me.
I don’t have a complete solution, but am definitely trying to be more conscious about where and how I spend my money because that after all is a vote. The more I’ve been open and paying attention, the more cool things I’ve discovered.
For the last 2 years, I've helped coordinate and hosted an Eco Fashion Show at the Whole Earth and Watershed Festival in Redding, California. We showcase both students and professionals designs including:
Trashion (making wearable art from things that were used and headed into a waste bin)
Upcycling (creating new one of a kind pieces using parts from existing used garments) and
Sustainable Fashion (made with fabrics, dyes or processes that are easier on the earth)
It’s both a lot of work and a really rewarding opportunity to share creativity and ingenuity in the community. People come up with and create so many fun things!
This year, I got more than I bargained for in terms of responsibility, and we had lots of last-minute issues, dropouts, weather forecasts threatening thunderstorms on our outdoor show and more. In all honesty, this led to a few minor meltdowns at home complete with wailing and gnashing of teeth and a desire to run off and call the whole thing quits.
Fortunately, the director of the entire festival is an awesome woman who doesn’t really let you bail on your responsibilities. I pulled myself together before going public, put on a big “on with the show” smile and managed to fool the people who participated into actually thinking I was calm and organized! Ha!
Seriously, the show was great in the end, and I appreciated all the contributions, from the hardworking kids and their parents, to the last minute models and designers who jumped in and shined.
Hopefully, we opened a few eyeballs and minds to considering different ways of creatively re-using things, avoiding fast fashion and supporting local artists. I know we had some proud and inspired kids, so that made all the work worth it.
It’s also great to see other companies (fashion and otherwise) making choices to do business in cleaner and less destructive ways.
Like this Dutch company that has come up with a way to dye fabrics without using water which could save millions of gallons of water and a whole lotta energy each year.
There’s also more technology being developed to recycle used fabrics in new ways~ like this project in Australia that repurposes used commercial textiles giving new life to old hotel sheets, towels and more by reducing them to their raw components and making them into new fabrics.
Zero Waste Daniel is a designer who makes one of a kind pieces using scraps from factories that would otherwise end up in the dump.
I also found this awesome creative re-use store in a rural Northern California town that is inspiring creativity and has diverted over 17 tons of usable materials from the waste stream last year! 17 tons!!!! That’s crazy huge! It's also a lot of fun, and I found goodies for hatmaking, trims and all kinds of fun stuff there for my own studio.
They’re all inspirational and the best part is, there’s so many more ideas, people and companies who’ve realized we don’t have to be so destructive just to get dressed.
I hope you’ll check them out and find a few things you can implement into your life. Whether you let your kids make costumes from your old clothes, shop at a thrift store, make yourself new skirt from an old tablecloth, buy something from a small handmade sewer, or, just buy less altogether, it all adds up, and it all feels pretty good too.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, please share with a friend!
Hope you had a Happy Earth Month. Until next time~
Wondering what six weeks off of social media feels like? Fan-freaking-tastic, that’s what.
If you happened to have noticed that I’ve been pretty quiet and absent for the last bit, that’s also why- I’ve been on a very satisfying social media sabbatical.
Every year, I’m in the practice of giving up something for Lent, and this year, it was going to be my habit of being judgy. While that’s a noble idea, and I could probably benefit from some variation, a few days before the season began, I started feeling like my judgy-ness is actually handy and useful for me in some ways right now.
At the same time, I started noticing that my tendency to check social media was feeling habitual and rarely if ever leaving me feeling happier or more productive.
One day, I’d popped on Facebook for “just a minute” as I was getting ready, and whoopsie- TWENTY SIX MINUTES LATER I noticed the time! I had to rush like a madwoman and found myself needing right about a half hour more time to do what I actually needed to do, but I had unfortunately wasted it on Facebook.
And it wasn’t even the least bit satisfying.
In fact, it was mostly annoying as I there was so much stuff that really didn’t matter to me in the least bit, yet I’d been somehow sucked in.
That was frustrating for sure, but then came the creepiness.
I was up late one night talking to someone about some relationship issues they were having. THE NEXT DAY, there was an ad in my Facebook feed about a program to help with relationship issues.
Hmmmm...I hadn’t done any searches on the topic, nor was I actually using my phone or laptop during the conversation, so this seemed a little weird, but I figured it could also have been coincidental.
Most people have relationship problems at some point or another, so it’s not like the topic was all that specific towards me. It felt “off” but I didn’t want to go all full force conspiracy theory about it.
A few weeks later though, I’m in the bath, and my SweetHeart brings me a glass of wine, and we chit chat a bit. He tells me about a really unusual medical condition affecting a kid we know. This isn’t your everyday run of the mill condition, but one I’ve never actually known anyone in my 47 years on the planet to have. I’ve only read about it in a novel once, And, my phone was IN THE NEXT ROOM.
So, the next morning, I’m scrolling through Instagram and bam, there’s an ad “Does your child have “Fill in the blank with the exact freaking unusual condition we had been talking about the night before?””
Coincidence? No freaking way. It was way too specific, and also way too creepy.
So, without even realizing it was the day before Lent began and without really telling anyone aside from a few close friends, I deleted the social media apps off my phone.
And so began my six-week sabbatical from social media.
I realized quickly that almost everyone I know over the age of 25 seems to have some sort of love/hate relationship with social media. Sometimes, it’s more of a hate/hate relationship, yet still, most of us still use it.
For the younger ones, many don’t even know a time without that dopamine hit of seeing who liked your selfie and some aren’t even the least bit creeped out by being listened to.
The first part makes me sad and concerned about what that does to the brain, communication skills, and relationships.
The second makes me wonder if they’ve never read or watched any futuristic sci-fi books or movies and how they could possibly NOT think this handy technology can and likely will be used against us?
This makes me want to yell “Resistance is NOT futile!!!!!” and to force a mass binge watching of the kind of movies that will activate the paranoid parts of their brains.
But, since that’s probably illegal, and makes me sound crazy, I’m focusing on my own relationship with technology first before I go freaking out on everyone else.
I am, however, immensely grateful that my kids grew up on the cusp of the smartphone era and got to be little kids and play with toys and run around and have a childhood of their own before the world came at them on a tiny screen in their teen years. It’s whole different world for younger kids and my hat’s off to the parents navigating how to use the technology wisely.
What I noticed myself right away in my time off social media was how often I would unconsciously pick up my phone on autopilot in the first few days and look for those little icons. But they were gone. My twitchy fingers and ping pong brain had to find something else to do. I was actually a little shocked and how much I distracted myself.
Standing in line, I was forced to just wait, or I could text a friend, or get out a notebook and make a random list or if I was really bored, I could talk to strangers. Eventually, I quit picking up my phone so often.
It reminded me of something my Girl Child observed on her gap year in Ecuador. Her iPhone was stolen fairly shortly into the trip and she didn’t have an international data plan anyway, so she was left to use a flip phone for emergencies. This forced her to go old school on her hour-long bus rides and just stare out the window. She commented more than once on how nice it was to just zone out AND how rarely that happened back in the US.
For me, having more time with my own thoughts rather than the random ramblings of everyone else was like an exhale. I felt less anxious and less rushed. Even though my responsibilities and routine hadn’t been reduced at all, I felt more peaceful.
Freeing up my brain space to focus on what I was actually wanting to accomplish was like some flashback to an earlier time, and I really liked it.
During the time, I took 3 coastal trips, and read books and wrote at night. I stared at the ocean and big trees rather than my phone. I did a lot of thinking, started a couple of new projects and did a whole lotta work on others. I also communicated directly with people a lot.
The downside was that also during the time, I was coordinating an event and 2 workshops leading up to it- you know....the kind of things that get promoted on social media. I did pop in 2 times to post a link and sent some messages to people I thought might be interested, but otherwise, I just left it up to others involved to get the word out.
That felt a bit weird and detached, but since my exodus wasn’t really planned out in advance, it was the best I could do. And in the end, it was enough. The show went on and was a success.
I did keep the messenger app as it’s the primary way I communicate with a few people, so the creepy mic listening has probably continued, but at least I wasn’t seeing ads targeted towards my conversations.
The evening of Easter came and went and even though Lent was over and so was my sabbatical, I found that I wasn’t really feeling that interested in social media. I opened Facebook and scrolled for about a minute, and found, for the most part, I just didn’t care.
Yes, it was nice to see a few faces I hadn’t seen in a while and to smile at their happy pictures and cute kids and vacations. Other things, like what people were having for lunch was still as uninteresting as it had been before and the bombarding of ads had a new feeling to it. Less frustration, and more, no thanks. I don’t need to scroll through all that. I don’t want to spend my life there.
I’m not under any illusion that I’ll be off social media for life because I do miss the sharing and connecting possibilities that can come through it. I’ll just be finding my way to get what I want and leave the rest behind so that I’m using the technology rather than it using me. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but I do know I like the feel of my own thoughts.
How about you? How do you feel about your relationship with social media? Do you love it? Hate it? And how do you navigate it with your kids? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
If you liked this essay, please share it using the very social media that I just took a break from! Ha!
And in whatever capacity works for you, I’d encourage more time in real life and less on screens.
Enjoy the day!
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.