Recycled cashmere has been catching my eye this autumn. As with any natural fiber, and especially with cashmere, reusing rather than starting again from scratch is an exciting advancement. Much of the cashmere used in recycled cashmere at this point comes from fibers left over + previously discarded from the cashmere industry. It would be wonderful to see previously worn cashmere getting a second chance, but this is a great start. This is often how the technology advances, new options for recycling come into play, and then collection can have a focus + outlet/input.
Another intriguing way of recycling cashmere is simply cutting it up + sewing it back together into useful shapes. This could be a way to use bits of sweaters riddled with holes or stains...or too small, secondhand sweaters. These makers are doing amazing work! I love seeing the sleeves of sweaters made into pant legs, and that amazing scarf/blanket is the most beautiful way to ensure that no scrap of this luxurious fiber goes to waste!
Fair fashion involves a supply chain in which farmers, the environment + garment workers are all treated fairly. Fair fashion emphasizes natural fibers rather than those that come from oil + end up as microfibers in the ocean, fish, tap water, air, rain + us. Fair fashion addresses pollution from dyes + energy usage + emissions. Fair fashion considers the end of the life of a garment + is moving toward circular systems in which natural fibers can be used over + over again...rather than being grown at higher volumes with increasing costs of soil health + water usage. Fair fashion addresses our usage of clothing by encouraging prolonged use, repairs, swaps, borrowing, refashioning + the efficiency of the secondhand market. Fair fashion encourages thoughtful makers + creative reuse.
I love all of it. As own my journey progresses, I realize that one of the main components, and maybe the main component, of a good wardrobe addition is that I can see myself really wearing a piece for a really long time.
This means that this judgement is one of my most important measures of the fairness of a piece. When I can choose an object that I can see myself wearing really wearing over + over + over again in my daily life...that I can see being durable enough to earn some fading a patching...that I can truly see myself loving just as much or more with this fading + these patches...that I can imagine wearing through the next few decades of trends...this is a true measure of fair fashion. Because the cotton or linen or wool that was grown (or recycled) will not need to be regrown for a replacement piece...because the soil + the water will not need to be spent in its cultivation...because more pesticides + dyes will not be used...because my discarded piece will not need to be shipped around the globe replacing the economy of clothing makers there...because this piece + the long line of replacement pieces won't end up in the landfill.
Longevity...durability...repairability...personal classics...these are some of the strongest elements of fair fashion.
Autumn seems like a natural time to consider color...and I love these nature inspired tones. These lovely pieces could mix + match + layer for lots of lovely outfit options. We obviously don't need to buy a whole new wardrobe's worth of pieces, in order to consider color in our own collections.
One way I've been considering color is by choosing pieces in white + natural tones. :) I choose white tones not only because I like them...but also because I'm thinking about longevity. I am anticipating extending the usefulness + my own love for these pieces by dying them with natural dyes as necessary or desired. Dyes are a great way to add a little color to a thrifted, stained or existing piece in one's wardrobe! I love indigo dye + am looking forward to trying some of EarthHues natural dyes too.
Another way I like to add a little oomph to my regular outfit lineup is by mixing colors in unconventional ways. A few of my outfit dreams using the pieces above include...
I'm actually wearing this combination right now. It doesn't seem like it would work (one of those unconventional color combinations mentioned above), but I think it does. :) It's one of my favorite cozy at home looks.
I like the idea of sliding a heavier, cozy layer over a simple, sleeveless jumpsuit. The ease of two piece dressing feels like a luxury as temperatures dip. I'd really like to see these different tones of green together, but I have a similar grey jumpsuit already in my closet that would benefit from a cozy layer like this.
These colors are an autumn dream...and that green cardigan above could take this pairing into cooler days. Let the leaves fly! :)
All lovely photos via links.
Another quick installment of the get-it-worn chronicles. Appearance-wise, I like this top best as it was originally made. In reality, however, I was just not wearing it. Even though the fabric is very lightweight, the sleeves make it too hot for my lifestyle. The removed sleeves offer fabric for bias binding, and now I think I will actually wear this top. It'll be breezy on the hottest of days with shorts, and on cooler days it can be layered easily under a sweater with jeans.
Sometimes it can be a bit painful to mess with a good thing, but the results may just be a bit better for getting it worn...which is the point, really. :)
Plastic bottles are being recycled into polyester, and nylon fishing nets are being recycled into econyl...which are being made into leggings + swimwear + fleece. Now we have closed- loop polyester...but is that even a good thing? In 2011, Marke Browne's paper "found that microfibers made up 85% of human debris on shorelines around the world" (which says a lot when shorelines can look like this). I wholeheartedly agree with Leah Messinger's 2016 assertion that "breaking a plastic bottle into millions of fibrous bits of plastic might prove to be worse than doing nothing at all." Why is it that almost an entire decade has gone by since these alarm bells were sounded + yet some of the most innovative "sustainable" brands are still messing around with plastic microfiber shedding product? And why are we still buying it?
We're still buying it, because we've worn nylon swimwear our entire lives + we've been told that synthetic work-out wear breathes better than natural fibers. We like the performance + stretch that polyester provides. The thing is that climate change challenges our belief in the freedom of choice without consequence. Climate change will challenge our borders as climate refugees are forced to flee inhospitable conditions. Climate change will challenge us with the necessity of generosity + sacrifice for the sake of peace + the well-being of our fellow human beings. If we want to mitigate the speed + the level of climate change, we need to make some sacrifices now.
I honestly have not found the switches I've made from polyester to natural fibers to be a terrible sacrifice in performance. It just involves an adjustment in expectations and, in some cases, a little bit of time to find an alternative. My cotton bottoms may sag a bit when I get out of the lake...oh well...I've left no plastic behind. :)
Lycra + spandex are a major part of what make the current styles of swimwear + athletic wear possible. These synthetic elements are often added to even organic cotton pieces. Mixing fibers makes it harder to recycle cotton, + lycra/spandex will not biodegrade. We each have to wrestle with the impact of this knowledge. Is It possible to completely avoid lycra/spandex? Of course. We can simply choose to deal with the limits of purely natural fibers. We can choose to wear loose cotton shorts or pants to yoga class instead of leggings. I'm not going to completely leave lycra/spandex out of the discussion below. We might not choose to avoid lycra/spandex completely, but we can avoid as much as possible. Let's open ourselves up to the possibilities. Let's get creative. :)
What can we wear instead of polyester + nylon?
Warming layers :: Instead of fleece + capilene ::
Sometimes advancements are wonderful + sometimes the old ways have good things to offer. Patagonia continues to embrace polyester fleece + capilene, but we've found merino wool to be soft, warm + water wicking. I'm excited to see that Ibex is returning this autumn. Duckworth + Ramblers Way make some wool pieces in the USA. WoolX, Smartwool + Icebreaker offer some 100% wool (be sure to check) pieces as well. All of these pieces hold up quite well, so look out for them on resale sites + in thrift stores. Obviously, one could just wear an extra cotton layer (like a sweatshirt) or an old cashmere sweater instead...why not? :)
Swimwear :: instead of polyester, econyl or recycled polyester ::
For someone like me, fairly made, organic cotton pieces like those from Pansy (available with natural rubber elastic + without added lycra/spandex), Arq or State work well for dipping toes into streams, wading in lakes or rivers + enjoying the sun. A cotton bodysuit like Nude Label's, Thief + Bandit's or Everlane's could work for some as well. Many of us only wear swimwear occasionally + a fewer of us really use it seriously for swimming or surfing.
I thought that bamboo might be a good natural material for swimwear, but I was not able to find any at this point. There are some organic cotton/bamboo sports bras at Tasc that might be an option for some. This modal bodysuit from Commando (or this one from Ripple) is like bamboo in that it comes from natural origins, but requires more processing than other natural fibers. Apparently rayon fibers made up a large percentage of the fibers found in this study of microparticles found deep in the ocean. This provides us with further reason to avoid these fibers (rayon, lyocell, tencel). (Ugh.)
Please don't be fooled by ChitoSante fabric made with shellfish shells. Only a small portion of the fabric is made up of (or treated with) this biomass. ChitoSante is polyester.
Swimwear for serious swimming...at this point...may be an appropriate use of recycled polyester. These pieces of clothing are quite small + don't need to undergo rigorous agitation in the washing machine. If a wetsuit is in order, check out Patagonia's 85% natural rubber wetsuits. Continue to prod brands to seek innovation.
Work-out clothing :: instead of polyester in all its forms ::
Tops: It's easy enough to wear an 100% cotton tee or tank already in our wardrobes instead of a polyester one.
Sports bras: There are lots of organic cotton + hemp sports bras available. No reason not to embrace them (some brands below). Also consider the level of impact workouts entail. I find that for hiking, biking, walking, rowing, yoga + weights...I don't really need a heavy duty sports bra.
Bottoms: Leggings aren't the only bottoms that can be worn for workouts. Consider looser bottoms that won't require such stretchy fabric. There are lots of organic cotton + hemp bottoms (including leggings). Conscious Clothing, Ripple Yoga, Hard Tail, Thief & Bandit, Satva, Pansy + Pact are some great sources (check fabric content). I've done yoga in Pact's new organic cotton leggings, + I think they finally got them just right for me (high waist + stretchy).
Patagonia is investing in testing + technology meant to develop plastic fibers that shed less...but is that really any sort of solution? We already have access to the fibers that humans have been wearing for thousands of years...natural fibers that return to the soil. Processing these raw materials into clothing we can wear is not without cost to the environment, of course. The best thing we can do is to wear our natural fiber clothing over + over + over again...to mend + repair it...and to wash it as little as possible.
There are gadgets + devices meant to attract or catch microplastic fibers before they can reach the drain, though the fibers must be discarded somehow...and some will inevitably fly off into the air or have to be tied up in a plastic bag to be preserved in a landfill for posterity.
Keeping waste out of the landfill is always top of mind, and I'm really not sure what the answer is in regards to the polyester + nylon items we may be replacing. When I first replaced some of our jackets, I sold them thinking that that may keep those who bought them from buying new pieces. Maybe donating these pieces to be used in carpet underlayment would be positive? (We may have to cut an arm off in order to avoid resale + donate to Goodwill in a bag labelled "rags".) This processing will produce microfibers too though. The bottom line is: the less plastic microfiber producing items in production + use...the better.
Our actions have an impact. Our voices may have a bigger impact. Educate + encourage with kindness. Encourage the people making these pieces to consider their impact + where they are spending their good intentions. Let's continue to ask for more innovation + creative thinking in this area. No more microfibers, please.
Lovely photos via links. Unlinked photo, mine. A few more ideas: simple workout wear :: 3 ways.
Fleece, swimsuits + leggings made from some amount of recycled plastic are commonly touted as sustainable or ethical fashion...even as microplastic particles shedding from these items of clothing in the wash have been found the water we drink, the fish that we consume, the air we breathe + even in rain. As many as 10-12 million plastic microfibers can be released in a single load of laundry!
Recently a "sustainable" fashion brand announced that they would be taking back spent recycled plastic leggings in anticipation of closing the loop + making new leggings out of the discarded ones. We're in confusing times when terms like closed-loop induce initial jubilation...but further thought brings skepticism about the proliferation of plastic particles.
Surely it is a good thing to recycle plastic bottles into something useful...isn't it? Surely it is a good thing to recycle these discarded objects into new useful items...isn't it? But if this process produces harmful substances along with the useful objects (+ promises to continue producing these harmful substances with each use), is that actually a positive advancement? Circular polyester will shed billions + billions of microfibers in its manufacture + use. Can we really tout so-called closed-loop polyester as an ethical or sustainable advancement?
I have to say that I admire a number of brands that have been pursuing this technology in so many ways. They have done the work of obtaining fair labor for the manufacture of their pieces. They have chosen to use recycled materials. When microplastics became headlines, they started selling devices + even washing machine attachments that collect the fibers. They funded research into lesser shedding polyester + closed-loop polyester technology.
Sadly, I wonder if washing machine attachments + closed-loop technology is time + energy spent in the wrong direction. Wouldn't it be better to address plastic bottle usage + nylon fishing net dumping + the general overuse of plastic? Wouldn't it be better to work toward making natural fibers more suitable for use as leggings + swimwear + warming layers?
Let's be thoughtful about so called sustainable advancements + products. Let's put our dollars + efforts toward real solutions.
For some alternatives to microplastic shedding clothing, right this way!
Last week I pulled all of my summer clothes out + reevaluated what got worn, what works + what might work better for someone else. My focus on "enough" has made this a welcome process, rather than one that I dread. It probably sounds a bit silly, but I do enjoy learning from this process.
Some preferences shift + change...and some stay the same. A couple of summer preferences that I really do need to trust + embrace:
-I like sleeveless tops, dresses + jumpsuits in the hot months. My daily circumstances are rarely such that I will be comfortable even in short sleeves all day. I love the look of breezy blouses, but they are too hot most days...for me. I don't work in an air-conditioned environment right now + try to keep our AC running as little as possible. Sleeveless pieces are easiest to layer. Plus...sun-kissed shoulders are nice. ;)
-I really like soft fabrics. Stiff fabrics really don't see much use in my wardrobe. If I dressed the way that is most attractive to me, I would wear soft, pale jeans + a soft white tee every day. In reality I wear soft tanks, soft shorts/pants + jumpsuits/overalls most. Might as well embrace it.
So...I let go of a few lovely pieces that really do feel like me. This can feel a bit sad, but I know they will be more useful in someone else's wardrobe. I don't have to own every lovely thing. It can also make me feel guilt over the money spent. This is where it is good to sell something before it loses more of its value (I'll recover most of the money spent)...and...where it's important to make note of + learn from the mistake. I really try to focus in on the reasons that a particular piece doesn't work for me + I try to make notes for next warm/hot season.
-I like white tops.
-Swingy, lightweight, elastic waisted shorts are great. Esprit pattern or maybe Pietra.
-Favorite summer fabrics: lightweight rayon, cotton, linen + voile
-Sandals that don't flip or flop + have a little arch support are most comfortable
What I'm left with for the summer months:
-short rayon jumpsuit (that I wear as shorts with a tank over top)
I always feel lighter + happier at the end of this process. I know that I have what I need + that I'm not holding things from others. One planet...limited resources...gratitude... generosity...compassion...love.
I came across this amazing jumpsuit pattern from Merchant & Mills the other day + it sparked some thought in the direction of autumn. (I'm in love with this worn-in denim version!) A few minutes later I'd gathered this little collection of makes that feels cohesive + oh, so inspiring! Are you dreaming of cooler days yet?
Starting out our fairdare favorites series with the first + most everyday layer seemed appropriate. It's also the easiest category of favorites for me to choose. Most of the favorites here are tried + true...and highly recommended. :)
What I'm looking for :: organic cotton or natural fibers/materials (as much as possible), fair labor, traceable origins, durability, wearability
Considerations :: Thrifting doesn't necessarily apply to the category of intimates, so having a fair favorite or two in this category is helpful. I'm willing to take special care to hand wash (bras) as needed + to line dry (as usual). This prolongs the life of these beauties + keeps them out of the landfill (or preferably the compost heap) for as long as possible.
Pansy :: organic cotton grown in Texas + milled in North Carolina :: rubber/cotton elastic made in South Carolina :: sewn in San Leandro, California :: non-toxic dyes
These beauties (above) are my top pick for sustainability. The fabric + elastic are traceable + biodegradable (the 100% organic cotton ones). I've collected mine one by one + on sale. :) Pansy has added a more supportive bra to their collection, which I'd love to try.
Arq :: organic cotton :: made in the USA :: environmentally friendly dyes :: children's too
I love these high waisted bottoms + comfy tops that accommodate a range of sizes. I find the tops supportive enough for everyday wear + like that the straps are pretty enough to be on display. I would be comfortable in a set of Arq pieces at the beach (one less thing to pack). Again, I collect these lovelies slowly over time.
For the whole family :: Pact :: organic cotton :: fair-trade labor :: budget conscious :: men's + children's too
We have lots of these in our house. I would wear them too, if they had a higher waisted version. Pact underwear are soft + long lasting + can be found locally (where we live).
For periods :: Lunapads :: organic cotton :: made in Canada :: boxers, bikinis + briefs
I have four of these + they have eliminated my need for liners. They feel like a light, reassuring hug. I just wash these along with the other dark laundry.
For Europeans + for a back closure bra :: The Nude Label :: organic cotton :: made locally in Valencia, Spain
I would love to try one of Nude Label's bras, when I need a new one. I like the back closure, because it allows one to tighten the fit as the bra stretches out. I also like that I wouldn't mind these straps being visible when wearing spaghetti straps.
Again...this fairdare favorites series will highlight a very few fair brands to maybe start a search with...when a wider search feels a bit daunting. For more (+ lots more) fair intimates including supportive bras + sports bras, right this way. There are new players in the fair intimates category all the time, which is very exciting! I'll keep my eyes out + will keep updating our fair intimates lists (which is searchable toward the bottom of the ethical brands page). This post will be searchable both there + toward the bottom of the fairdare page. Feel free to add your fair favorite intimates in the comments! :)
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time