The personal freedoms we enjoy in this country are central to our nationwide celebrations on July 4th. How about choosing this day to be FREE from single-use plastics?
As history would have it, the birthday of our great nation happens at the zenith of summer. It’s the ultimate outdoor holiday, a day when Americans love to take off and celebrate with family and community.Think of all the gatherings taking place across the whole country at ballparks, swimming pools, backyards and beaches, virtually every one of them involving lots of food and drink.
But what about the day after?
Now, close your eyes and think about it. The picnics are over, the fireworks are spent. Americans have returned to home and work and their daily routine. Picture those parks and beaches and what’s left behind from the celebrations. What do you see? Sadly, the next-day reality is a widespread trash heap of plastic cups, plates and utensils, cellophane and food wraps of every description, six-pack holders, sports drink and soda bottles, plastic bags and water bottles, bags, caps, twists….
Communities across the country confirm that it’s not a pretty sight.
One small coastal town in Washington reported over 75 tons of trash recovered from the beach in the aftermath of the holiday in 2015. Volunteers in San Diego County gathered on the morning of July 5th, 2016 to collect thousands of pounds of plastic, styrofoam, bottles, discarded personal items, etc. See the “Morning After Mess Totals” here. Go to almost any public park and see the same thing. Many Americans have fallen into an unfortunate delusion that when it comes to their own trash, it’s someone else’s job to take care of it. Here’s another chart from the Ocean Conservancy from last year.
What can we do?
We can do what Americans do best, the very reason we celebrate this day. We can CHOOSE to do it differently! Yes, the problem is vast and yes, there are multiple industries behind every aspect of this issue. But there is no industry forcing you to use disposable items. They might spend millions upon millions of dollars trying to convince you that you must, that convenience trumps common sense, that there is no other option. But ultimately you get to decide what to use or not use.
We challenge you this 4th of July to make some different choices regarding disposables and in particular, single-use plastics. If that sounds like too much, it’s okay. Maybe you can do just one thing to shift the scenario for yourself this holiday. Here are some basic ideas.
- Enjoying an outdoor meal at home with family and friends? Instead of the go-to disposable picnic ware and plastic utensils, just decide to use the real ones. Or if that’s not at all practical, try a compostable brand.
- Serve simple, homemade drinks from pitchers and provide real glasses. (see recipe below!)*
- Taking something to a covered dish gathering? Think twice before covering that dish with a sheet of plastic wrap that will go straight into the trash. A clean dishcloth usually works great.
- Take your own drink cup with you and say “no thanks” to those ubiquitous red, white and blue SOLO cups that blight the landscape.
- Whether you’re hosting a gathering, a guest somewhere or eating in a restaurant, skip the straw. Easy!
- Share what you’re doing. If anyone asks about your unique drinking cup or asks why in the world you wouldn’t use disposable plates and utensils for your picnic, tell them about Plastic Free July and why!
Okay, so maybe for whatever reason you don’t do any of the above. That’s okay too, because after reading this far, you are at least aware of the issue, aware that there is another way when you can and when you are ready to do things differently. Given that most people don’t even think about these things, that’s an important step in the right direction.
By the way, we’ve got several plastic free, sustainable lifestyle items for 15% off in our online store, including Lady Farmer t-shirts, baby onesies, organic bedding and all pieces in our Essential Collection! Use the code plasticfreejuly at checkout .
Have a safe and happy 4th of July, everyone. Use the hashtag #patrioticandplasticfree to post your plastic free celebration!
–Updated from original post on 7/4/2018
LADY FARMER MINT TEA
- Stuff a half gallon mason jar full of fresh mint plus 2-4 black tea bags, add 6-8 inch cutting of a stevia plant (or powdered to taste) and pour boiling water over it. Let it sit for 4 hours or overnight. CHILL IN FRIDGE, YUMMY!
- If you don’t have fresh mint in your garden, use mint tea bags in combination with the black tea, add sugar or stevia or whatever sweetener you want—or none. And lemon, of course!
- You don’t have to use the black tea if you want caffeine free but I prefer a little to give it body.
- Use frozen strawberries for ice cubes and a sprig of fresh mint as garnish for a festive flair!
A question we get a lot is, “How do I know if something is ‘sustainable’ and if I should buy it or not?” Or, “What are some sustainable companies for the things that I need?”
The answer can sometimes be more complicated than it may seem. That’s because “sustainable” is such a broad, vague, and subjective word. At Lady Farmer, we encourage deciding what sustainable means to you, and going from there. As long as you are taking time to make a conscious decision based on personal guidelines you’ve set for yourself, we think that is much better than mindlessly consuming. It’s simply taking back your purchasing power as a consumer!
Enter: The Favorite Second-hand Shoe Store
A few weeks ago my mom and I took our quarterly (sometimes more often) pilgrimage to East Tennessee, where mom is from (and also the setting of her debut novel, Angel ). I’m lucky to have both grandparents still alive and well there, which is so special. I’m also lucky that my favorite second-hand/discount shoe store is there, and that we are usually able to make time for a stop! Most times I don’t actually buy anything, but sometimes that perfect pair appears happily on the shelf in front of me. What’s the most fun is that everything there is usually just in one size and style, so it feels even more completely serendipitous when it does happen.
This past trip we were short on time on our way out of town, but after an entire five seconds of reasoning with my mom about why we should stop, she was convinced. Lucky for us, because they had just gotten in a shipment of slightly out-of-season Birkenstock styles (which are actually produced with pretty sustainable materials, and last a long time) and mom found a great pair of *cute* but *comfy* walking shoes for her trip to Italy. There was also an entire wall of only slightly worn Frye boots at a fraction of the retail price!
Gold mine, y’all.
These guys were just waiting for me…and I’ve worn them literally every day since I bought them!
Want to Buy New? Here Are Some Sustainable Shoe Suggestions:
If I’m going to buy new shoes at full price, I do have pretty strict parameters on what I’ll put my money towards and trust my feet with. Here are a few that I lust over and am saving for:
- Sevilla Smith
- Handmade in either Philadelphia, PA or Barcelona, depending on where the shoemaker happens to be living at the time you order!
- Aurora Shoes, NYC
- Handmade in upstate New York
- Bryr Clogs
- Handmade in San Francisco!
- Birkenstock (though I found sound out-of-season discount ones at Beaty’s!)
- I get a lot of questions about sustainable exercise shoes – I pretty much exclusively buy unworn tennis shoes at places like Beaty’s or another thrift store (you’d be shocked what people buy, never wear, then give away…) just because I haven’t been able to find plastic-free shoes that I feel great about buying. If that’s not your thing, here’s an article from Eco Warrior Princess on some “sustainable” shoe brands – again – use your own judgement on what that means to you!
What are some of your favorite second-hand stores and how do you find them? Wherever you are, there is a probably a Lady Farmer nearby that would love to know! Happy (sustainable) shopping! -Emma
Many of us are seeking a more sustainable approach to our holiday celebrations. Let’s take a slow living look at one our favorite cultural symbols of spring, the Easter basket. It’s a tradition to fill baskets to the brim with neon plastic grass, small toys and individually packaged candies. And we wouldn’t want to forget the glossy chocolate bunnies, stuffed animals, and loads of rainbow-colored jelly beans. Then, wrap it all up in an enormous sheet of cellophane and your kids will have the perfect Easter morning. Right? Sure, if you look past the enormous amount of waste replicated millions of times across the country on this one single day.
Rethinking Sustainable Holiday Celebrations
Transitioning beloved holiday traditions towards sustainable holiday practices can be a challenge, given our consumerist society. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $18.11 billion on Easter candy, clothing, and gift-giving this year.
So what’s a sustainably-minded Lady Farmer to do? Our slow living mindset guides us to pause, ponder our desires, and move forward with greater intention. It encourages purchasing sustainable products that last, so we can love them longer. And it reminds us that no holiday tradition is more valuable than the time we spend connecting with ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. With a little mindfulness and effort, we can create sustainable holiday celebrations that preserve the meaning and enjoyment of our traditions. Here are some suggestions for one of our favorites.
Ways to a Better Basket
- Look for baskets made from materials such as willow, wicker and bamboo. These can be used year after year and if cared for properly, passed on from generation to generation.
- Skip the shredded plastic filler! Opt for biodegradable shredded paper available at your local craft store or online, get the kids involved and cut strips of craft paper, or run some leftover wrapping paper through your office paper shredder, like Martha Stewart. Want something even more natural? Fresh hay or straw work perfectly and smell amazing. And as long as fresh green grass hasn’t been sprayed with herbicides, it’s a colorful and sustainable option, too.
- Opt for organic and fair trade brands of chocolate, such as Newman’s Own, Dagoba and Theo . Keep an eye out at your market for those made locally and with low-waste packaging. For online delivery, naturalcandystore.com has an impressive selection of vegan, organic, fair trade, and low-waste packaging options — including chocolate bunnies and other Easter treats!
- Stuffed animals are not typically made from desirable materials – many contain synthetics, plastics, and toxins like flame retardants, BPA, PVC, lead and phthalates. Swap in books, wooden blocks, and soft toys made from sustainable materials and slow living companies. (Take a look at these adorable squishy stuffed animals knit by fair trade artisans over at Fair Indigo, and this collection of sweet little stuffies and blankets at Oompa!)
- You don’t really need those brightly colored, non-biodegradable plastic eggs. They have nowhere to end up but the landfill and filling them with candy treats is a bad idea. Plastic storage containers can leach hormone disrupting and carcinogenic substances into foods.
- Dye your own eggs! Food-grade dye kits do the trick. Or go one step further and make rich, rustic marbled eggs with dye from common vegetables, teas, and spices-our how-to guide to sustainable Easter eggs takes you through every step.
Spring is a time of refreshment, renewal, and celebration. And, we don’t have to buy anything at all to know and enjoy that! But for the things you do decide to buy, remember that sustainable options are out there for all of your sustainable holiday traditions!
Sustainable Easter Gift Ideas:
This delicious soap.
Our favorite travel mug that keeps your bunny’s coffee hot for so long!
An organic, sewn-in-DC Lady Farmer designed and approved apron.
Plastic free hairties. The pink ones are especially for Easter.
We’re living in amazing times. Women are changing the world with their courage to speak out, take a stand, and act outside of a male dominated paradigm. We listen to unfolding events and yes, we feel the surfacing of deep anger and frustration at the status quo, but at the same time we feel hope and inspiration because we know that there is a movement.
photo: Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin by Peter Strangmayr
We believe so deeply in making change! We want to do something. But sometimes we get stuck. Beyond watching disturbing telecasts that entrench our convictions, posting on social media to people that already agree with us and traveling to events that we hope will amplify our voices--what do we do? Well, here is something huge you can do to help the cause of women’s empowerment–every single day.
1) REFUSE Fast Fashion
Yes, that’s it. There are few things reflecting women’s disempowerment on such a broad scale as the clothing industry. It doesn’t show up that often on social media and is not being televised on cable TV twenty-four-seven, but it’s something in which practically every single one of us is a participant. Yes, it sounds overwhelming– but it is every bit within your power to RESIST, starting now. Start with that T-shirt you have that proclaims the power of women and find out where it came from. In all likelihood, it was sewn by a woman who does not earn a living wage, who possibly has to live away from her children to have this work, who cannot afford adequate food, health care or child care. Please do not wear this shirt or buy it for your sisters or daughters or book club until you confirm the truth behind it.
80% of garment workers in the fashion industry are women. Fast Fashion is a women’s issue.
2) STOP perpetuating this behemoth of a broken system that enslaves women.
Is the fast fashion industry really that bad? Yes, it’s really that bad, and the worst of it is that the vast majority of people are literally buying into this system daily without even realizing what they’re doing. Don’t be one of those that doesn’t know. You can read all about fast fashion and its devastating impact here or here or here.
3) DO seek, find and support fast fashion alternatives.
Once you know, please don’t make excuses for not using the power of your choice. There is nothing that can change things in our economy faster or more affirmatively than the informed consumer. If you want to be truly invested in the empowerment of women, it is necessary for you to know this truth.
We’re doing our best at Lady Farmer to educate and provide consumers with alternatives in their clothing choices. There are also some great lists and blogs online that will guide you, such as this one and this one.
Want to empower women every single day? Be a part of this movement by exercising the power of your consumer choices and refusing fast fashion.
Successful thrift store shopping doesn’t have to be fully a game of luck. Thrifting helps your wallet, your community, and your planet…but my favorite part is the search itself: I feel like I’m on a sort of adventure, looking for a gem in a messy jungle of fabric. The normal dopamine rush that I get from shopping is doubled when I’m thrifting: after taking time to explore, finding the piece that matches your style and size perfectly is incredibly gratifying.
Right now, I’m wearing Dansko clogs, Patagonia shorts, an Urban Outfitters shirt, Victoria’s Secret underwear and bra, and I spent less than $8.00 for the entire outfit.
As a self-proclaimed thrifting connoisseur, playing the “how much did I pay for this outfit” game is one of my favorite pastimes. I’m in college, and only have a part-time job during the school year–I don’t exactly have a large margin of disposable income. But thankfully, my hours spent in consignment shops has taught me that you don’t need to spend big bucks to look great!
Even if you do have enough money to buy name-brand clothing regularly, there are so many reasons to go thrifting instead! For one, it supports your local economy: buying an Old Navy dress at a consignment shop downtown supports a local business, instead of zooming directly up to a giant company. And many thrift stores are charity-based organizations that will use their profits to support local causes–I’ve been to stores that support hospitals, churches, after school programs, community centers, and more.
Shopping second-hand is also worlds more environmentally friendly. Imagine this: A woman goes into an expensive retailer and buys a blouse. Her money is supporting the production of A synthetic-blend textile, the pollutive process of dying the fabric, the factory assembly of the garment, and the shipping from overseas to the checkout counter. For one reason or another, it eventually is tossed in a trash bag labeled “donate,” and taken to Goodwill.
Fingering your way down a rack of tops, you find the blouse and take it home. It’s still cute, still high-quality material, and still a recognizable brand. But you pay a fraction of the price, and none of your money supports processes that exploit people or the land!
Thrift Store Shopping Tips
After getting my clothes almost exclusively second-hand for years, I have a few tips for finding the hidden treasures of consignment shops without wasting time. It doesn’t need to be a struggle or a 3-hour commitment!
1) Research where the good spots are to go.
Ask around about where people recommend shopping second-hand. It’s hard for people to accurately review thrift stores online, so word-of-mouth is valuable here. Some general advice from me is to go to the wealthier neighborhoods’ consignment shops; people who live and work in more affluent parts of town will typically drop off their donations close to home, and these spots tend to have a higher concentration of expensive brand names. (A side note for my friends down in the Southeast–Unclaimed Baggage in Alabama is by far the greatest spot to shop, with high-end clothes that can be over 80% off! Definitely worth a couple of hours in the car.)
2) Go early in the week, in the early afternoon.
As you start shopping at new thrift stores, ask the employees when they sort through new donations–Most places will sort through donations early in the week, and bring it out on the floor in the mornings. But always double check! Schedules vary, and you want to be one of the first people to look through their new clothing.
3) For a quick trip, know what you need.
If you just want a rapid, in-and-out trip, you need to shop with intention. Know what you need, run in and flit through the rack or two the store has. If you find what you wanted, great! But the more specific your expectations, the harder it’ll be to find, and you may have to go to a few different shops.
4) Save discernment for the dressing room.
Something about pre-loved garments make it difficult to tell if they’ll look good on or not; half the time I absolutely fall in love with something that I only mildly liked on the rack, or end up hating I thought was really cute at a glance. It’s hard to tell! So if I have the time to delve more into a store, I keep some flexible ideas of what I want in terms of fabric type, color, and brand, but give most clothes a shot. And as soon as I step into the dressing room, I kick my judgmental side into high gear to make sure I only walk away with clothes that I love and will wear regularly. It can be deceivingly easy to leave lugging armloads of stuff that you don’t really need, and the place to prevent that is in the dressing room.
5) Always check the non-clothing sections.
A quick walkabout through the kitchen section and a glance through the purses can yield incredible results, and it’s always the fastest part of my trip! I would never have found my black leather Coach handbag if I hadn’t left the clothing section. And although I only fantasize at this point about my one-day kitchen, I am positive that it will be composed of mostly second-hand goods. I’ve found mason jars, cobalt glasses, complete fondue sets, pressure cookers, and more just by quickly walking past and glancing at the shelves. Incredibly easy, and incredibly worth it.
I hope that these tips will help you explore the exciting thrifting world! Second-hand shopping is a great way to vote with your dollar against fast-fashion, prevent textile waste, and save money. Best of luck, and happy hunting! 🙂
– Vanessa Moss, 2018 Summer Intern
It’s still mid-summer, but the wheel of the year is turning, my friends, and it’s not too early to be thinking about fall plans. It’s so easy to get caught up and let time just fly by without slowing down to notice your life. That’s why we’re here, and we’ve got something very special planned for you!
Our Lady Farmer Slow Living Conference Retreat is November 9th-11th at Zigbone Farm in Sabillasville, MD, a beautiful mountain retreat less than 1.5 hours from DC/Baltimore and 30 minutes from Frederick. Our participants will be treated to a lovingly curated weekend of amazing workshops and awesome speakers, helping us all go deeper into the things that have called us into this community – sustainability, slow living, self care with journaling and affirmations, learning to live into your own inner seasons and cycles, and self discovery through nature immersion – preparing ourselves for the full and often demanding season that follows. Get an introduction to our presenters and what they’re offering here. In addition to an abundance of learning opportunities, the weekend will be a wonderful experience of friends old and new coming together to be nourished, restored and inspired by all things slow living, including ample time to enjoy this peaceful rural environment.
As for the meals, our vision of this event includes exceptional food that meets our standards of delicious, nurturing and sustainable goodness in every bite. We welcome Green Plate Catering to our gathering, a “Green America Gold” certified business which shares our passion for locally sourced, nutrient dense foods and zero waste. Remarkably, they are fully on board with our goal for a single-use plastic-free weekend! All of our meals will be farm-to-table (sourced from the farmer down the road!), organic, seasonal, and lovingly prepared with the utmost care for your enjoyment and well-being as well as the sustainability of the land, and shared communally in the green-built event hall.
In order to maintain a relaxing, community atmosphere where people can get to know and enjoy one another during this shared experience, the number of participants will be limited to less than one hundred people. So if this opportunity is speaking to you, please visit the Conference and Retreat page for everything you need to know and then sign up to join us!
We are so very much looking forward to seeing you there.
Yes, we know that leather is an animal byproduct, and the whole tanning process is not a pretty one. So why do we support leather companies like our friends at Farrier and now Central Grazing Company?
Because the leather we support is sourced from regenerative cattle (and sheep!) farming, which like fiber farming (wool, hemp, flax, organic cotton, etc..) has the potential to heal our soils and change our world. Literally.
Recent reports are claiming that there are an average of 60 harvests left on the earth if soil degradation continues. Agriculture remains one of the top contributors to soil loss and increased atmospheric carbon. In order to stop the rapid loss of our soil and sequester carbon, change must take place on all levels, from lawmakers to farmers, brands, investors, consumers and innovative entrepreneurs.
That’s why we’re excited to tell you about Jacqueline Smith, the founder of Central Grazing Company, a women-led, regenerative food and fiber business committed to farming methods that actually build vital soil!
Jacqueline and her team are pioneers in the regenerative agricultural movement and are committed to changing the way we approach food and fiber products. She has designed a program that pays farmers premiums for high animal welfare and ecological standards. This gives farmers incentives to farm in ways that build soil, help balance the carbon cycle and gives animals peaceful, calm and natural lives.
Over the past few years, Jacqueline has been working to create a new farm-to-fashion leather line that comes from her certified Animal Welfare Approved sheep raised in the Midwest. Not only that, she has them tanned and manufactured in the U.S. Because of her closed-loop production process, her leather collection is 100% traceable. How incredible is that?
She is raising funds to launch her new consciously made leather line, and we’re so excited they’ve almost reached their goal! Let’s help them surpass it… You can see her Kickstarter campaign here.
Ethical leather is changing the clothing industry. By purchasing, gifting, supporting or promoting CGC’s full range of leather pieces, you, too, can help grow the climate-benefiting fashion revolution.
Jacqueline’s campaign will be running until June 10th. Every little bit helps. There are all kinds of rewards including deeply reduced prices on her amazing leather pieces! Sign up here for her newsletter for more details.
Also, if you would like to review their leather products, learn more about their process or simply to share this feel-good story, please reach out to Jacqueline@centralgrazingco.com. She’d welcome your feedback and, of course, appreciate your helping to spread the word! We found this FAQ page really helpful and informative…check it out!
Emma & Mary
Is your bathroom cluttered with dozens of plastic bottles, jars, tubes, and dispensers?
The bathroom should be a place that reflects calm, cleanliness and refreshment, but all too often the energy of the space is taken over with product chaos. Do you dread opening the cabinet when looking for something and rattling through the mess of half empty shampoos, expired medicines, mangled toothpaste and beauty products that didn’t work out?
Here’s a way to fix that.
Remember when we talked about how to reduce your kitchen clutter using these common household ingredients?
Guess what! They work just as well in the bathroom. See how many products can be replaced with these few, inexpensive items and you’ll have your salle de bain feeling like a spa in no time. All of these products can be purchased in bulk and stored in clear glass containers for clean, plastic, and stress-free storage.
How to use these easy homemade natural product replacements:
- Use baking soda instead of toothpaste for excellent oral hygiene. Add a drop or two of peppermint essential oil for a flavor.
- A small amount of baking soda on your fingertips makes a fresh feeling, gently exfoliating daily face wash
- Vinegar and water in a glass spray bottle work well for surface cleaning
- Lemon or lime essential oil makes a pleasant smelling disinfectant for the faucet and toilet handles
- Baking soda is a great toilet cleaner
- Baking soda and a few drops of the essential oils of your choice added to the bath water make a wonderful, relaxing soak. Make it deluxe with a handful of Epsom salts added as well.
- Citric acid makes a great shower and tile cleaner. Mix it in a spray bottle with hot water and let it work its magic on the grout. Makes a great toilet bowl cleaner as well.
- A cut lemon works wonders on rust stains around the fixtures and mildew spots on the shower curtain or the grout
How about all of those miracle creams, those solutions and ablutions and all of that make-up mess making you crazy? Check out Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home for all kinds of DIY beauty and hygiene product replacements.
So after you’ve rid yourself of all of your bathroom clutter and have your five ingredients lined up and ready to go, you can congratulate yourself for saving a lot of money (because you’ll never go back to the drug store habit) and making your bathroom a much more pleasant place to be. Now go take a soak and enjoy!
Lady Farmer wants YOU to join the Fashion Revolution!
It’s been five years now since the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24th,2013. Over 1,000 workers died and another 2,500 were injured when the eight-story building, known to be unstable, came crashing down on employees that were sent to work in spite of a large crack that had been identified in the walls. Now known as the worst disaster in the history of fashion, the event opened the world’s eyes to the grim realities of the apparel industry. Though blame might have been largely placed on local standards and regulations, most Americans had only to look in their closets to recognize our country’s complicity in the tragedy, as many major north American brands were made at Rana Plaza, including J.C. Penny, Walmart, North Face and Benetton.
Each anniversary is now highlighted by a global awareness campaign known as “Fashion Revolution Week,”during which consumers worldwide are encouraged to ask the brands #whomademyclothes? It’s an easy but powerful step on the part of the masses that have allowed the fast fashion machine to become a reality such as Rana Plaza, a simple exercise in consciousness and inquiry.
We ask of ourselves and the brands who make our clothes:
- Whose hands measured and cut the cloth, sewed the pieces together just so and added the buttons or trim that caught our eye in the first place? Most likely it was a woman.
- Is she a mother?
- Where is her child while she’s at work?
- How far does she have to travel to the factory every day?
- Does she make enough to live in clean and safe housing and to provide her household with food?
These are simple and reasonable questions. In asking them, we’re not trying to move all of apparel production out of these countries and shut down her job. We’re not trying to take away her only means of income. But we do want to make it clear to these large companies that their lack of transparency in the supply chain will not work anymore. Consumers all over the world are making their buying decisions based not on price and quantity, but integrity of materials and production. In doing so, producers will have to comply with the demands of an increasingly discerning public and make the changes necessary to prevent the Rana Plaza incidents of the future.
Want to be part of the Fashion Revolution? It’s easy. All you have to do is ask #whomademyclothes?
The Lady Farmer Essential Collection Line on the runway! Made in the USA using fair trade practices and of materials that are natural and biodegradable, the Lady Farmer Essential Collection is our own project in manufacturing in a way we feel good about.
As with so many things in our industrialized world, we have a problem with excess clothing. Most of us have way more than we actually wear. This isn’t just an issue in our homes, it’s a problem for the whole planet. Americans discard an average of 80 lbs of textile waste a year. What doesn’t end up in the landfill is often “donated” and shipped to other countries where it overwhelms local systems and disrupts local economies by removing demand for domestic products. As well-intentioned as we might be in wanting to pass along our rejects “to someone who can use it,” the truth is that in many cases we are sending our waste to be a problem somewhere else.
Where does that leave us in terms of trying to simplify our own lives and spaces?
Slow Fashion and a Sustainable Closet
Here are some suggestions for addressing clothing clutter and passing things along in a less wasteful way.
- Refrain from buying anything new for a season and see how it feels. Do you find yourself lacking in things to wear, or do you find yourself using things you already have in ways you might not have before?
- If some items have been hanging in your closet unworn through a full cycle of seasons, box them up, write the date on it, tape it shut and put it out of sight. It’s most likely that you won’t wear it again, but if you find yourself thinking “Well, maybe when I lose weight… or go on a cruise… or get an invitation to the inaugural ball…” and so on, ask yourself this– is it worth the aggravation of having it in the way and taking up your limited space until those things occur? If in one year you haven’t missed any of those things, get rid of it without opening the box.
- To move things out of your house, donate them as locally as possible. For instance, local church rummage sales and thrift stores are more likely to be visited by people in your area who can actually benefit from the clothing you no longer need and keep them out of developing countries or the landfill.
- Shop at second hand and consignment stores to keep existing clothes in use longer. You will be saving money and keeping your dollars out of the fast fashion sector.
- When you do decide to buy a new item of clothing, consider sustainable fashion brands that can account for responsible sourcing and manufacturing. You will likely be spending more per item, but this is an opportunity to evaluate the significance of cost. What does it actually mean when we say something is a good price? In terms of slow fashion, asking this question can give us a new perspective. In making this shift in your awareness and subsequently in your buying habits, you will be using your purchasing power to help establish a new consumer paradigm!