It is October and also the first Slow Fashion October event on instagram (and other platforms). It's been fascinating to follow the posts with the hashtag #slowfashionoctober and read all the comments and discussion that is happening on this topic. I love making clothing (or really, just MAKING) and I do see a real problem in the mindless consumption of clothing and other consumables. One of the concerns that has come up in discussion through various posts include the cost of being able to handmake your own garments. It takes time and money. It is cheaper and less time consuming to purchase clothes in a store like Walmart than to fork out money for sewing machines, knitting supplies, organic and eco friendly wools and fabrics. It also takes time and money to learn how to use all of those things. Time and money that people at lower income levels simply do not have. Two generations ago, making your own clothes was thrifty and necessary, now it is a privileged persons hobby.
One thing I think about in regards to my own wardrobe is this: It's easy for me to make my own clothes and it would be easy to be smug about that. Because I happen to love sewing, fabric, knitting, and having new clothes, it really just kind of works out that I am also being eco friendly and socially conscious.
But what about food? What about household items? Electronics? What about recycling and gas consumption and energy consumption and food waste and EVERYTHING ELSE? Guys, I am failing on so many levels. The reality is that it's REALLY HARD to live that perfect socially conscious enviromentally friendly life. And we are not.
In the above picture, I have knitted Molly that sweater and bought the hat from a maker on Etsy. My best friend sewed the pillow in a class I was teaching at Needlework. But we bought the couch and the sleeper and I don't know the origins of either one. The reality is that I simply don't have time to make couches or sew ALL of my own, Jay's and Molly's clothes. But we could have bought a second hand couch or re-covered one. We could be buying more of Molly's clothes second hand or borrowing more from other friends with slightly older kids.
There is always more that you can do. But we are limited by time, energy, and money.
For our family, I think the key will be not in the making (we already do lots of making) but in mending and re-using the things that we have. When I think about how my grandparents generation would use their belongings it humbles me. Making a dress, then when it starts to wear at the hem, re-fashioning it into a blouse, then using the remains to make a pillow or a braided rug, and then when the pillow is worn, using the fabric as rags for cleaning or making quilts from them? It really gives you perspective about what you buy. Like even buying fabric with that mentality, you would have to REALLY love it to want to see it on you, then on a pillow on your couch/a quilt/dish rags for the next twenty years.
Also, our society has an expectation that we should keep consuming. You don't go to a friends house and compliment the couch pillow they have had for 8 years. You compliment the NEW couch pillow. We are also expected to wear different clothes every day of the week (with the possible exception of jeans and coats). I've knit Molly three sweaters, and she wears the brown one quite often. When it gets dirty I spot clean it and put it back on her. Every few weeks I carefully hand wash it and lay it to dry. This works because I am usually the only person she sees who knows how often she wears it. Once she is in school, she will likely reject that method of dressing because other kids will laugh at her for wearing the same sweater three times in one week. But in order to stop just recklessly consuming more, we would have to change that mentality and embrace smaller wardrobes of pieces that we really love and take care of. And we would ALL have to do it.
Just some food for thought. Do you guys have suggestions on how you implement re-using or second hand shopping to reduce waste?