More and more people are becoming aware of the journey their food takes to make it to their plate. People are thinking more about supporting their local food farmer and trying to buy more locally grown or raised vegetables, dairy, and meat. I love this. I participate in this as much as I can. I still shop at the grocery store, but any chance I get, I’m buying my food locally. I’m aware of it more. I am always trying to improve in this area and am super far from perfect. There are vegetables available in my grocery store that have traveled across the entire country (or even globe!) to get here when there are farmers right here in my community that grow the same food. People are starting to recognize the ecological impact this has on our planet and the economic impact this has on our local food farmers.
Take a leap with me for a minute. Have you thought about the journey your clothes take before they end up in your closet? It’s quite a journey and the more I learn the more I’m dismayed. The processes used to make our clothes emits 1.7-billion tons of CO2 per year, or 10% of all man-made carbon emissions. That is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. The $1.5 trillion global fashion industry is growing at an extremely fast rate doubling since 2000. On top of that, people are keeping their clothes half as long and 85% of the discarded clothing and textiles end up in a landfill. 70% of the clothing you wear can’t break down in that landfill because it is made of fossil fuels. Yes, fossil fuels. Did you realize polyester is plastic? I didn’t and it is found in 70% of all clothing on the planet.
Wow, right? This is called fast fashion and these are just high-level basic statistics. There is so much more to discuss around this topic, but let’s leave it at this for now because just this alone is a lot to consider.
What’s my purpose in sharing this information? Am I simply trying to depress you? To shock you? To make you feel inadequate in your knowledge or ability to save the planet? NO! None of these things. I’m sharing because I’m learning too. I’m sharing because just like buying local produce or eggs every chance I get and forcing myself to be more conscious in my decision making, I’m making more changes on the garment side of my life and honestly have been slowly making these changes for quite some time. It’s no secret I raise fiber-bearing animals! I'm working to support not just food farmers, but natural fiber farmers as well.
On top of all the things society thinks you should do perfectly as a woman: your career, raising perfect kids, exercising 5 days a week, eating well, feeding your kids right, keeping your house showroom organized and clean, keeping your kids in activities, keeping your love life strong and spontaneous, painting your toes, getting rid of facial hair, and seriously this list is almost never ending. I promise I am not asking you to now grow all your own food and grow and sew all your own clothing. I promise.
I am wondering if you can slowly, and intentionally join me in starting to add 1 or 2 things each season to your wardrobe that are slower-fashion replacing something you would have bought that is fast fashion. This is how I’ve been tackling it. Yes, of course, I admit I still purchase fast-fashion items (jeans are my weakness), but I do a lot less of it. I seek out items made from natural fibers like alpaca, hemp, cotton, wool, bamboo, silk, and more. These items last a long time, are high quality and make me feel good. They are sustainable, renewable and much easier on the planet.
Moving toward slower-fashion does not have to be hard or all-consuming. It doesn’t have to be a loud, vocal, overbearing choice you express to everyone you know. Just simply consider adding 1 or 2 pieces of more sustainable fashion to your wardrobe each season in place of 1 fast fashion item you would have purchased. It’s really that simple. All change helps and the items you purchase will be of higher quality, lasting much longer. If the slight cost increase of adding 2 slower fashion items seasonally is a bit too much right now, I get that as well. In this case, go minimalist. Just intentionally skip 1 or 2 fast fashion purchases that you might normally make. It all helps.
Not convinced that fast fashion needs to slow down? There are a lot of great resources out there to learn more. I’m currently reading Fibershed by Rebecca Burgess. Fibershed also has a great online resource to learn more about the impact of fashion on the planet and http://fibershed.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Fibershed-Clothing-Guide-second-edition.pdf
I know you want to continue purchasing from the companies you love. Big companies making change worth noting: https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/02/24/11-fashion-companies-leading-the-way-in-sustainability/#1800a7716dba
Other companies to check out:
https://www.goodkarmaranch.com/pages/online-store-page Good Karma Ranch is our small, family-run farm in North Carolina focused on farming the renewable resource of alpaca fiber in a sustainable manner. We run our farm 100% on solar and gently harvest fiber annually to produce high quality textile products you will enjoy for years to come. We are going to share with you over the next few months more transparency around how items get from our fields to our farm store. Stay tuned.
https://www.imperialyarn.com/ “Once a year, the soft, white wool is harvested from sheep, and the process of transforming this naturally renewable resource into a wide selection of fibers and yarns begins. All the wool is specially milled without harsh chemicals or extreme temperatures, leaving it comfortable, soft and pure. With custom colors in solids and heathers, Imperial Yarn offers knitters, weavers and other fiber artists a naturally beautiful array of hues, textures and weights.” They have ready to wear garments as well. Not just yarn.
https://www.patagonia.com/ This isn’t new. This is their way and they are very accessible.
https://www.allbirds.com/ sustainable sneakers. Love watching and supporting this brand. “The standard sneaker emits 12.5 kg CO2e. Our average shoe emits 7.6 kg CO2e. Better, but we want to do more. Our goal—have no carbon footprint from the start. The first step to reduce our footprint is to measure it. And even though we’re not at zero yet, we can be. It’s all part of the plan.”
https://www.everlane.com/ “Designed to last. At Everlane, we’re not big on trends. We want you to wear our pieces for years, even decades, to come. That’s why we source the finest materials and factories for our timeless products— like our Grade-A cashmere sweaters, Italian shoes, and Peruvian Pima tees.”