or nobody does.
I mostly stick with my homemade lip balm, but when I am (was) out + about I don't (didn't) like using my finger to apply it. Before the pandemic, I bought a locally naturally-dyed, secondhand top (that's a great mouthful) at a local shop + noticed Poppy & Pout sitting near the register. The lovely woman ringing me up pointed out her favorite + I bought it.
The balm smells lovely (even for this increasingly fragrance-sensitive person). It moisturizes well + stayed solid throughout the summer. Poppy & Pout's lip balm is made from beeswax + sunflower oil sourced in the USA, organic coconut oil from the Philippines, essential or natural flavor oils + a drop of vitamin E. It is made in the USA + packaged in a paper tube.
Now it's almost gone + this is the moment I'm most happy that it comes in that paper tube. I'll rip it up a little + add it to our compost bin. (yay!)
Next up...MeowMeowTweet (because that's what I came across next). And also, it is made in New York from almost all certified organic + fair-trade ingredients. Cost-wise, these lip balms are a bit more pricey than some drug store brands. The paper tube, natural ingredients + traceable production are all good reasons for this, but they also contain a lot more product.
Regular lip balm :: 0.15 oz
Poppy & Pout :: 0.3 oz
MeowMeowTweet :: 1 oz
That means that I'd need to buy seven tubes of regular lip balm to equal the amount of balm in a single tube of the MeowMeowTweet balm. I'd have seven plastic tubes to discard too. Just a little perspective. :)
Often our sustainable shifts come from intentional work, but we may also have some natural tendencies that we can leverage in the direction of sustainability. Our challenge may be to recognize these tendencies as actual superpowers + to guard them from being unintentionally lost.
Julia is a natural minimalist when it comes to clothing. She just prefers less. Periodically, I bump up against the realization that the abundance + choice I offer as kindness could have the unintended consequence of clouding out (or even training away) her feelings of "enough". It's a sort of comical realization when I spend so much of my own time striving toward this feeling myself.
I find it encouraging to hear other's perspectives on their wardrobes. Julia's perspective on her wardrobe is pretty simple + I love knowing that it can actually be that simple. Julia + I had a little conversation about some of this + she agreed to let me share it here. :)
Jane :: How do you feel about clothes? Do you have opinions about what you like to wear + what you don't like to wear?
Julia :: I like comfy clothes that I can move in + that feel like "me".
Jane :: Can too much clothing start to feel overwhelming?
Julia :: Yes! I only want what I need, and I only need a few things.
Jane :: How do you feel about the fact that your job involves wearing a uniform?
Julia :: I don't really like the uniform, but it's not the worst. I don't have to worry about what to wear, because it's already there.
Jane :: What do you like most about one-piece dressing...like jumpsuits + dresses?
Julia :: It's just all there, and I don't even have to choose anything else.
Jane :: Do you like just having one pair of trainers, one pair of boots, one pair of sandals?
Julia :: Yeah. I like having just what I need. I don't really want six pairs of shoes. And since it's quarantine, I don't really go anywhere anyway...so I guess there's that too. :)
These are a few of the things I see as Julia's ethical/minimal wardrobe superpowers:
Thank you, my sweet girl, for sharing your thoughts with me + for letting me share them here! It's super inspiring for me to observe what comes naturally to you. I'll keep trying to do my part to preserve + honor your instinctive knowledge of "enough".
Dear reader, I imagine you + your people have some natural or hard-earned superpowers of your own. Take notice + celebrate + maximize their effects! :)
There are a bunch of places to find fair-trade, organic cotton or hemp tees these days...and that is worth celebrating! I feel like I come across these basics often, but I also wonder if I'd remember where to find one when I needed one. So I decided to collect them here. This post is linked toward the bottom of our ethical brands page (for when we might need it).
As usual, we start with these reminders:
-The most ethical t-shirt is most often the one that we don't buy. :)
-When we find ourselves in need of a new-to-us t-shirt, a thrift store is a great place to start the search for a sturdy 100% cotton one.
The most common fibers used in tees today are polyester + cotton. Even recycled polyester is non-biodegradable plastic which sheds plastic microfibers with each wash. Cotton is often sprayed with chemicals that directly effect the land + the farmers that grow it. Thankfully organic cotton has grown in popularity. Growing organic cotton, however, is not easy...and it demands a lot of water.
Organic cotton can be sourced in one country, spun in another + milled in a third. By the time an organic tee is sewn, transported to the warehouse + shipped to the store or our house...it is probably better travelled than we are. It's exciting to see people care about how + where the fibers in the clothing they design are grown, processed + sewn. It's hard work to trace the journey, since the bulk of the industry has moved overseas. Many brands just don't seem that in touch with the fluctuations in the supply chain. Harvest + Mill is a great example of a brand who takes the time to know the places, people + conditions a tee comes from...from seed to finished product.
Growing new, organic cotton for each new tee is a resource-heavy endeavor involving water, land + labor resources. Innovations in recycled cotton are exciting...and the fact that a tee can be made with 100% recycled cotton (no new fibers added) is a breakthrough. Everybody World offers these innovative tees.
Hemp is another fiber focus for sustainable t-shirt makers. Hemp is a more naturally resilient crop than cotton requiring less water, chemicals + fertilizers. Hemp restores soil health rather than depleting it. It makes a sturdy, long-lasting fiber as well. Jungmaven makes hemp/organic cotton tees.
The working conditions of the garment workers who put together our clothing are of great importance. We know that our purchases factor into the paychecks of all the hands who touched that t-shirt. It's exciting to know that there are people designing clothes with the entire process in focus. Fair-trade certifications bring credibility to ethical labor claims.
While all of these factors are wonderful, we can't lose sight of the fact that even organic cotton, hemp + recycled cotton require land + power + water + transportation + human resources. These processes create waste too. Just how many t-shirts does one person need? Can we wear the ones we have longer + wash them less? Can we borrow or trade? Can we find a secondhand tee instead? Just a few things to consider before going any further. :)
The tees collected here:
christy dawn :: organic cotton, made in los angeles
coyuchi :: organic cotton, fair-trade certified
everybody world :: 100% recycled cotton, made in the usa
harvest + mill :: USA grown organic cotton, made in usa
industry standard :: organic cotton, made in los angeles
jungmaven :: hemp/organic cotton, made in usa
known supply :: organic cotton, fair-trade certified
outerknown :: organic cotton, made in usa
pact :: organic cotton, fair-trade certified
I neglected to check if I'd already written a fair tees post until I was finished with this one. (I had.) Anyway...reading over my previous (now deleted) post let me know that this is indeed an update. Some of the brands listed in the previous post no longer make their tees with fair wages in mind, some have raised their prices + this time I decided to use fair-trade certification as my measure of working conditions. So...I'm posting this update with gratitude to the humans who run these brands with farmers, garment workers + the environment in mind.
All lovely images via links.
Both Simply Living Well by Julia Watkins + Home by Natural Harry are beautiful books full of recipes for cleaning supplies + body products. My personal preference is to truly keeping things as simple as possible most of the time...but there are a few recipes I'm considering. (photos on the right :: Home)
Grow Food for Free by Huw Richards offers some interesting ways of thinking about gardening this spring...including some inspiring zero-waste hacks. (photos on the left :: Grow Food for Free)
It just rings truer.
Sound of Metal.
Better for everyone.
When they're too tired to cook. (My version toward the end of this post.)
Hopefully you are out of the deep freeze + enjoying some sunshine (+ heat + electricity + water) this weekend!
Each week that brings the calendar closer to March
there is a shift in the position of the northern hemisphere
in relation to the sun.
We gain a little more sunlight every day,
the mean temperature rises a fraction of a degree,
the enzymes within plants become more active
+ in many species cells begin to divide.
The growing season is beginning.
~Emma Mitchell from The Wild Remedy : How Nature Mends Us
There is no one-size-fits-all way of curating an ethical +/or minimal wardrobe. Some of us will use our love of browsing to score the best thrift store finds. Some of us would rather find one good t-shirt + stick with it.
The people I live with each have their own ethical wardrobe superpowers. Each of their closets looks different. Each of them has skills + ways of seeing that I admire. I've asked each of them to share a little bit more about their superpowers + I'm so excited that they agreed! First up is my partner.
Jane :: I know you don't spend as much time as I do thinking about your wardrobe, but do you have any things you try to keep in mind when it comes to your wardrobe...ethically speaking?
Him :: I try to remember to wear what I have + to wear it as long as it looks good + functions well. When I choose to replace something I try to buy from a company whose style I like but that also uses responsible practices.
Jane :: I think you have a few ethical wardrobe superpowers. One is that you have a few categories of clothing that you know work for your life + you stick with those. What pieces do you find are "enough"?
Him :: t-shirts, button-downs, jeans, khakis (don't have to be khaki), trainers, boots, Vans
Jane :: Do you think that finding a middle ground with your style (casual vs. business) has allowed you to have fewer pieces?
Him :: Definitely. A button-down shirt with (dark) jeans works for work + when I get home I can just untuck the shirt + I feel more relaxed. I have a crewneck sweatshirt that I can wear over a button-down to work + over a t-shirt on the weekend. For me, a zip-up hoodie would seem a bit too casual for work. I like clothes that I can wear in a variety of different situations.
Jane :: Do you have any shortcuts when it comes to shopping?
Him :: We've found a bunch of my shirts at the same thrift store when we travel. If I don't find something I need at a thrift store, then I will look at Outerknown. I like their style + they fit me well. Their commitment to responsibility is something I can get excited about + respect. For example, their SEA jeans are fair-trade certified, made with organic cotton + they are guaranteed for life!
Jane :: Are there ways that you can feel somewhat uniquely "you" while keeping your wardrobe minimal?
Him :: Yeah, I'm just careful about what I choose. If I can find a brand with an aesthetic that I really like, then I can choose things that reflect who I think I am + what I stand for. I do like having a pair of old skool Vans + having a t-shirt or two that reflects something I'm excited about.
Jane :: Do you still want new things all the time? How do you counter this urge?
him :: Not all the time. When I do, I remind myself that I have things that I really like + if I continue to wear my clothes until they wear out...then I can get something new that I really like. It makes me feel good to get life out every piece of clothing that I like + enjoy wearing. A few months ago, my Vans completely wore out + I felt good about choosing a new color.
Jane :: I admire your ethical wardrobe superpowers which I recognize as:
Jane :: Is there any reason that these don't apply to cycling clothes? (haha)
Him :: Yeah, it's an area for improvement. I wish there were more cycling companies that took sustainability seriously.
Thank you, my love, for taking the time to think through + share some of your thoughts on clothing (not your favorite topic...but one of mine)! :)
The fairdare can end up looking so many different ways + I love that! Recognize, celebrate + use those superpowers!
Altar is a retail shop in Portland, Oregon that carries goods made by independent manufacturers + artists in North America. Alter Houseline consists of clothing made in the USA from deadstock fabrics + provides sizes small through 6XL.
All images via Altar Houseline.
I made these overalls two + a half years ago. I wear them with tanks in the summer + all layered up in the winter. They are probably my most worn make at the moment, but they (like most things) were not perfect.
I really liked the way these overalls looked...from the front. I like the ties + the Liberty lined pockets. The rise + the length are just how I like them. When I first made these, they were a struggle to get off + on...so I lowered the back (Beaton style). Since I admire those Beaton overalls so much, the back felt acceptable...but...it also felt a bit weird. I was always trying to make sure that the gap back there was folded over + secure.
Today, I finally found a piece of leftover elastic + cinched up the back a bit. I like the loose-ish fit, so I left a little play in the waist. And it looks SO much better back there now! :)
Elastic has been a helpful fitting friend of mine. I often use it to bring shape more than to provide functional stretch. I used it on this straight jumpsuit to bring a little waist definition...on this jacket to coax a cocoon shape...and here to close the back gap. :)
These little tweaks are often total game changers in making my pieces just that much more enjoyable to wear! Make it better...get it worn!
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time