News From You: Earth Day 2008

Today we have a special edition of News From You in celebration of Earth Day.

First up to bat is this page (from the official Earth Day site) which claims April 22nd isn’t Earth Day; it’s April 21st or even the 20th (this year).

The first Earth Day, proclaimed by the City of San Francisco and celebrated on March 21, 1970 was created by John McConnell. What led him to the idea was his interest in Space exploration and awareness of the March Equinox, nature’s primary day of global equilibrium.

Not to be outdone, Wiki says:

  • April 22 was the birthday of actor Eddie Albert who did early work with environmental causes and groups.
  • April 21 was the birthday of John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club. Organizers thought that April 22nd was Muir’s birthday.
  • April 22, 1970 (the first earth day) was the 100th birthday of Vladimir Lenin. Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was “a Communist trick,” and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, “Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.” The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin’s centenary still persists in some quarters, although Lenin was never noted as an environmentalist.
  • April 22 is the birthday of Julius Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day, a national tree-planting holiday started in 1872.

A bit of fun and whimsy mixed with seriousness from this site on nature’s best solar collectors -cats. Among other things, the site sells Solar Cat Aircraft Carriers.

Placing the aircraft carrier in one’s shopping cart renders this error message:

The Story of Stuff (video)
Take this quiz to see how sustainable your lifestyle is. Mine is Twelve acres. Ideally, no one should score more than four acres. By contrast, the average US citizen hogs 24 acres each. Oops. The quiz isn’t up today. Poor planning, that.
My favorite fashion resource Sock Lady -who has always made their socks in the US of recycled materials- is offering an Earth Day special. They are donating $2 from every order from April 18 through April 25 to Vital Communities’ Valley Food and Farm program. Sock Lady has started blogging too.
Speaking of using recycled materials, here is one thing that every single one of you can do today. Have you forgotten we’ve adopted Magic Mike’s fabric recycling project? People from around the world are looking for your scraps. There are over 170 people who’ve posted to the entry, looking for scraps from your cutting table. Please select a candidate of your largess and contact them via email to arrange shipment. Many have said they’ll pay shipping so all you stand to lose is a box and the time it takes to pack it.
And speaking of waste generated from fashion, Frockery says Landfill fashion, what a waste:

Textiles waste is a particular bugbear of ours. Did you know that in the UK alone, we throw out in excess of one million tonnes of textiles every year, most of which ends up in landfill sites?

Far from being harmless holes in the ground where we can conveniently bury anything and everything we no longer want, landfill sites cause significant environmental damage. In the case of landfilled textiles, garment dyes and bleaches can cause toxic chemical seepage into the ground and water courses. As the material decomposes, the build up methane gas presents further hazards.

Although environmental issues have been gradually nudging their way up the political agenda, there is no evidence that our throwaway society is ready to take responsibility for its wasteful behaviour. We need a sea change in attitude and, while there is some great work being done to reduce textiles waste through reuse and recycling, the clothing industry remains awash with cheap ‘fast’ fashion which is likely to end up in landfill in a matter of months if not weeks.

My thoughts are summarized in Is Fast Fashion Sustainable?
In the handsome is as handsome does department, Stitch Lounge recycles our own Abigail Vargas’ idea of making reusable bags out of old tee shirt tank topswithout attribution. Indies just love to rail against “the man” so I don’t understand how they think it’s okay to do the same things themselves. Hyping the recycle angle, they didn’t even use a used tee for their project. It looks brand new, not even washed once. Sewing subversives indeed.
Speaking of reusable bag ideas, this was my idea for reusable bags. After much thought, I decided the common plastic grocery bag pattern couldn’t be much improved upon. I was going to make it of ripstop nylon but they’ve beat me to it. Ah well. I can still make mine reversible.
From TreeHugger, two entries:

Forget about Earth Day; a much bigger deal is National Hanging Out Day, celebrating the humble clothesline (Saturday April 19th) Why dry your clothing with coal, using six percent of the nation’s electricity, when you can tell your friends that you have installed solar and wind power in your home, for the price of a clothesline? In celebration of this great day we present the party line on clotheslines. Be they indoors, for apartments or yards, decorative, low tech or high tech, they are integral to our future.


George Monbiot points out that the world produced 2.1 billion tonnes of grain last year, the biggest harvest in history. “If hunger can strike now, what will happen if harvests decline?” Yet only about 1.1 billion tonnes of it goes to feed people. While diverting 100 million tonnes to feed cars is a “crime against humanity”, the real problem is that “760m tonnes will be snatched from the mouths of humans to feed animals. This could cover the global food deficit 14 times. If you care about hunger, eat less meat.

Speaking of meat eating being the antithesis of sustainability, Make Me Sustainable says:

  1. Increased demand for meat in the developing world, most notably China, where a greater substitution of grain for meat has meant 700 grain-based calories are being used to generate 100 beef-based calories.
  2. Water shortages abroad (most notably Australia, historically the second largest exporter of wheat) has meant less grain harvested and traded.
  3. Increased costs of oil and energy which has contributed to increased fertilizer, farming and transportation costs.
  4. The steady depletion of global grain stocks (the carryover stocks from the years before), which usually helps alleviate shortfalls.

The Onion is going to hell. China celebrates status as world’s largest polluter.
Timo’s Zero Fabric Waste Fashion blog is always an interesting read.
Green fashion and textile industry books:
Fairchild books has published Sustainable Fashion: Why Now? A conversation exploring issues, practices, and possibilities. I haven’t read it yet. Actually, I haven’t even ordered it. Amazon is out of stock today.

Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher (who has an awesome website -be sure to see Gallerywith annoyingly tiny font!)

Eco-chic: The Fashion Paradox by Sandy Black. I haven’t read this either but it looks interesting.

Last is Green Is the New Black by Tamsin Blanchard. Ibid.
Crafting a Green World brings up the point that Amish quilters are extreme-green.
Have you heard? It’s everywhere that Wal-Mart is pushing for organic cotton. Vesta had made some pithy comments on the value of transitional cotton but I can’t seem to find it now.

Last week Wal-Mart purchased more than 12 million pounds of transitional cotton at the premium price for organic cotton from farmers switching over to organic farming methods. The purchase removes a major stumbling block for many farmers looking to switch to organic methods and represents the biggest single shift in retail apparel toward organic cotton and could speed acceptance of the green apparel niche.

To be certified as organic cotton, cotton must be grown in fields that are free from chemical pesticides and fertilizers for at least three years. That three-year period before certification usually results in increased production costs for farmers but a cotton product that cannot yet be sold for a premium because it is not considered completely organic. That transitional cotton will be purchased by Wal-Mart from approximately 1,000 farmers and should help spur cotton production. Ultimately, having Wal-Mart as a buyer should lead to lower prices on organic cotton for the whole apparel industry.

Feel free to add your green two cents and Happy Earth Day! Resolve to make a change today. Minimally, send off some of your fabric scraps. I know you have some.

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  1. Thanks, Kathleen!
    Yesterday was strange, I wrote another short post about copying (one of my big gripes about the industry here; I’ve seen a designer become completely helpless after losing a page from Vogue; this after I’d made the pattern and we had a toile. The designer couldn’t make any decisions without that page. Pathetic.) and mentioned pants. I’d been here just before and when I returned an hour later, you’d posted about jeans and mentioned copying. Weird synchronicity. I reckon it was about 5am here and the previous evening over there.

    Kate Fletcher’s book is fantastic, I think. She doesn’t shy away from the complexity of the problems but the optimism is contagious. I’ve been carrying it with me for two months and turn into a mad evangelical person at every opportunity (I do same with your book when clients come over. Some are now scared of me – this is good). When I get a chance, I’ll try to post about the nice links between her book, your many posts, and even some pieces of writing by Julian Roberts – the links are definitely there!

    Thanks again, truly humbling. Now for the 40+ jeans comments…

  2. Zaz says:

    hello kathleen,
    i don’t get it how people measure “eco friendliness” and being “green”. especially those DIY that are so widespread on the websphere now. you have to COLLECT plastic bags in order to fuse those and make yet another big bag and then people will ask that you make them others… so is that getting rid of the habit of consuming plastic. it’s the same with cutting plastic bags in strips and knitting them to make a market bag, people seem to be proud of those “achievements”, etc, etc, there are so many unbelievable acts like these. one of them that i thought very funny was knitting Xmas balls around a styrofoam form to raise money for some echological association. i wrote to them begging they use something other… they replied with: yes but it’s more practical.
    in short, people are in use of MORE waste to act greener, this is too crazy for me.

    what i do? i bought two bags from a local market: one huge straw market and another to wear everyday , much smaller, i bought them in bretagne, they’ve been making them for ages and that’s what our grandparents used.
    i refuse to have my vegetables and fruit to be put in plastic bags, if they insist then the paper bags are ok, then all goes in my straw bag.

    i recently read an article on a useum website where the women had a dress for ceremonies, one for everyday and one black dress (i guess for mourning) alongside with a night dress and some underwear and also some shawls, mittes, hats. i love this idea.
    the dresses were knit i suppose starting when the girls were nearing marrying age and “special”, like i could imagine they would incorporate green when one had green eyes, etc etc…
    what a lovely way of dealing with clothes.
    i’ve so many clothes that i could put in the “maybe” filing… it’s a real shame. i will do my best though.

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