Today (1 November) is World Vegan Day – more on the relevance of this later. 1 November 2021 is the first day of COP26, possibly the most crucial world climate conference so far. So on both counts, it seems important to touch on the issue of climate change on the blog. In case you are wondering what this has to do with a textiles blog, I shall explain…
Just few decades ago, many people thought that scientists’ warnings about damage to the the world’s climate could be ignored, either because those views were thought to be extreme or because any possible consequences seemed to be so far in the future. Now, in 2021, we are experiencing extreme changes in weather patterns all over the world. Through films and television documentaries (for example David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series) we have been made aware of the damage caused to the ocean by human intervention (in particular due to micro-plastics going into the sea – I blogged about this here).
Yesterday, I saw a photo on social media of Greta Thunberg arriving in the UK for COP26. If ever there was an example of a human being who is not willing to just accept the status quo, it is Greta. She is a splendid example of the power of an individual to bring about change.
So what about all the textiles enthusiasts? The quilters, the dressmakers, the embroiderers and the fashion-lovers? What can we do – and how should we live? Here are a few suggestions.
- Buy less fabric. This is a very hard thing to say to quilters, in particular, who like to joke about the size of their stash. The phrase ‘more fabric than you can use in a lifetime’ is jokingly bandied about, but there is often some truth in it.
- Buy less. There are any number of gadgets and pieces of equipment that you can buy for sewing, but really, excellent results can be achieved with quite simple tools: a sewing machine, rotary cutter, board, rulers, pins, needles and scissors.
- Buy carefully. I am only planning to use 100% cotton or wool wadding in my quilts from now on. Polyester wadding (even if it uses recycled plastic in its production) will not bio-degrade, if it is discarded. The presence of polyester in in 80/20 wadding will stop that wadding from bio-degrading. (Read more about choosing wadding here.)
- Buy well. If you are choosing something new to wear from a catalogue or shop, consider whether you will wear it for a long time. Does the garment use fabrics from natural fibres which are bio-degradable? Anything with polyester or polyamide content will produce micro-plastics when laundered and these will go into the sea.
- Make well. If you make your own clothes, or make clothes for other people, well done! You are more likely to retain for longer, a garment you have made yourself. It is likely to fit you better and you will have been able to choose suitable fabrics. There are some excellent young pattern-matters designing twenty-first century patterns, so there is a good choice. Take a look at Lydia Higginson’s company Made My Wardrobe (link at the end of the post). Lydia and her team will also teach you how to make your own clothes.
- Re-use. Charity shop shopping for clothes is a viable option. As in the fairy tale, ‘you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince’! In other words, you have to be patient and do a lot of browsing to spot the very thing that will give a fillip to your current wardrobe. Don’t buy unless your find is just right – or unless you can alter it to make it just right. If alteration is the choice, try to make the changes straight away – if your purchase goes on a ‘to do’ pile, you will probably lose enthusiasm for it. For inspiration see the blog by The Frugal Fashion Shopper (link at the end of the post).
- Re-cycle. Quilt-making was originally the recycling activity, in which left-over pieces from dress-making were cut up to make patches for quilts. Not all fabric for quilts needs to be new. (My ‘Pinstripe’ quilt pattern, for example, is designed to be made with recycled men’s shirts. You can find it here.
- Do your laundry with care. Choosing to use a short cycle on the machine makes a difference. Choosing to buy washing powder in bulk, in a paper bag or cardboard box, saves money and saves plastic waste. I have just (today) put up a second washing line outdoors and do not own a tumble-dryer.
- Try eating vegan food. (I said this would come in!) You don’t have to become completely vegan, just try some recipes. How about a few meat-free days a week?
- Experiment with non-dairy ‘milk’. There are good alternatives (soya, oat, almond) available in the coffee shops and in the supermarkets.
So, a rather serious post this week. Please do comment below, especially if you have some great ideas about what we, as individuals, can do about the climate crisis.
Made My Wardrobe – https://mademywardrobe.com/
The Frugal Fashion Shopper – https://frugalfashionshopper.co.uk/