A Simple Question
"Mom, who made this?"
- "Ummm...I don't know honey, someone in a factory."
"But who made it?"
- "I don't know who. [Checks the tag.] Someone in Indonesia."
"Where is that? I don't know where that is."
- [Thinking of a frame of reference for her.] "It's south of China."
"Oh, so like the Indian Ocean?"
Gulp. I am so glad she has had enough items made for her in her life that she asks specifically about the person who made her clothing, but boy am I glad I didn't have to elaborate on the person in the factory who likely made this (admittedly cute) Circo brand robe from Target. In response, I did a quick search to see if I could find out anything on Circo brand factories or the industry in Indonesia as it relates to Target. Nope. I did find information on the industry in Bangladesh - largely because of the factory fires that made headline news and prompted some small measures of improvement for worker safety. (MPR News, Target) Most other information and media coverage has long since been buried as "old news" with little change made after the initial public outcry. It is noteworthy to me though that Target at least did something as opposed to most major retailers that chalk it up to the "human cost of business" and wait for the public outrage to pass. Sourcing clothing from ethical sources remains a difficult, time-consuming, and often expensive process.
The Capsule WardrobeI'm going to be honest - when I stumbled across the idea of a #capsulewardrobe the ethical implication of "fast fashion" and the retail clothing market were not on my mind. I don't fit the standard consumption categories of most American consumers so surely my wardrobe meets minimalist standards, right? I mean, my 7-year-old daughter just commented this morning that she doesn't even recall having been to a mall. But then I counted my closet - I have so much excess in my closet! But let's take another glimpse at this post on the Capsule Wardrobe - it's pretty selfish. It's not about anyone other than me. Look at what this change can do for me or for you. Isn't it fantastic for us? And that's great, self-care is important and I rarely do much of it, but when I looked closer - there's so much more to this idea and it can have a bigger impact. I can't change the regulations that govern international trade nor force foreign governments to protect people over profit - but I can make better choices about what to support with my decisions.
Last night, after my daughter asked me about her robe and who makes our clothes, I stumbled across "fast fashion" - the ever-increasing turn over of design and clothing in retail stores and the environmental impacts of such excessive consumption. Aside from the human cost, there is also an environmental impact that I honestly had never contemplated. What do you mean the average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing a year?! (HuffPost) But I don't throw away clothes, I donate them. I should feel good about that right? Kind of. "Most Americans are thoroughly convinced there is another person in their direct vicinity who truly needs and wants our unwanted clothes. This couldn’t be further from the truth." (Slate)
Most of the clothing donations in America are not resold locally and end up being collected for overseas sales or turned into rags. A fact that was confirmed by my own recent visit to our local charity organization. At the time it seemed like they were making great use of our donations by selling excess to a facility in Dallas that will ship them overseas or turn them into rags. But wait...what happens if they don't sell overseas? And what happens to the used rags? Oh...back to the landfill again. It's a vicious cycle. A cycle perpetuated by excess and consumerism.
Slow Fashion"Don't just be a consumer." (Mission Church) I stole this line from my pastor this morning. No, he wasn't preaching about fashion or the clothing industry, but given my recent research the line resonated with me. Who do I want to be? Am I a #maker or a #consumer? What am I going to do as one, lone individual who wants to opt out of fast fashion? That's not much of a boycott. Thankfully, it's not just me.
This month there is a second annual movement going - #slowfashionoctober and over on Instagram I am going to join up with @slowfashionoctober that's headed by Karen over at the Fringe Association. She has already developed a Master Plan for the second annual event and given us a guideline for discussion and inspiration this month. And some more good information on the Why behind slow fashion.