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~
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.