Tagged: resources

More Flow Please

This I Wear | Go With the Flow

At the beginning of 2015, I wrote a post on water, going with the flow, and my expanding, ever-changing view of what sustainability is and what it means for my own life and purpose. Here we are at the fresh start of a new year, and looking back at this post gives me goosebumps. It’s only in hindsight that I see how much “going with the flow” became my theme for this past year. It emerged with the unexpected loss of my grandmother this summer. It showed up when it became clear that there would be no “slow season” at work this year. And it said “hello” again when I found myself having a really hard time writing here after coming back from my annual August writing break.

While it wasn’t an intentional decision, I let myself slowly step away from This I Wear to gain perspective and rest.

As I let go of the “shoulds” and the guilt about not writing every week here, I found myself spending a lot of time letting myself be curious and learn new things. What ended up happening was that all my blog time this Fall ended up going to an online course on the Circular Economy led by the European university TUDelft and sponsored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

There is nothing more “go with the flow” than the Circular Economy. The Circular Economy, which is still an emerging idea, is the total opposite of our current economy. Imagine our current economy – a linear economy – as a line: we take resources from the planet, we make the materials into stuff, we use that stuff, and then we toss it in the landfill. At most, that stuff gets a second go-around for recycling. In the Circular Economy, it’s exactly what it sounds like – a circle: we stop taking new resources from the planet that we can’t replenish, use all of the incredible resources and materials that we’ve already put in circulation, start designing things to last as long as possible and to be designed to be disassembled or re-imagined, and then keep them in the flow of making and using stuff as long as possible. In the Circular Economy, just as it is in nature, there is no waste.

Nature knows how to go with the flow. A fallen leaf becomes the nutrients in the soil to grow a new tree. Rainwater nourishes our gardens and then evaporates back into the atmosphere only to come down again. The cycle continues.

Throughout the experience of the course, I felt my understanding of sustainability growing and evolving. There is even a whole week dedicated to fashion and textiles. If you’re curious, the class will be offered again in February 2016.

This month, I’ll start another online course focused on finding your own way to be an activist in the sustainability movement. The 7-week course is hosted by the nonprofit The Pachamama Alliance, which works to protect the culture and environment in the Amazon, one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, and it’s a pay-what-you-wish donation at the end of the course. If you’d like to join me, you can sign up here.

If you want to start with the basics, though, try their free online 2-hour course, Awakening the Dreamer, which will guide you through understanding the environmental and human rights issues of our time. Heads up that at the beginning, you might wonder “what is this??” but trust me it’s worth it to stick it out to the end.

And just one more learning opportunity if you’re up for it: The Ethical Fashion Forum will be hosting a free online course for the first time on building a sustainable fashion business. So if you’ve been dreaming of creating your own clothing line or want to know the ins-and-outs of sustainable fashion in practice, sign up before the class starts on January 18.

So what does all of this mean for This I Wear?

Here’s the only thing that I know: My posting is going to be a lot more “go with the flow.” I won’t be posting on a regular schedule moving forward, but instead I’ll only be posting when I know I have something really exciting and thoughtfully written to share with you. If you’d like to be notified when there are new posts, you can get them right to your inbox by signing up to receive posts by email here.

And yes, in case you caught it, I did say the word “activist” earlier in this post. I’m going to be honest that the word bothers me. When I imagine an “activist”, I imagine someone who aggressively pushes their views on others. That’s not me at all. But I’m also increasingly feeling like I can’t stand by while I see bad decisions being made everyday that hurt people, hurt our environment, and endanger our future. Changing our shopping habits might be the way that we dip our toes into more responsible decision making, but I’m also ready to start talking about how we take big steps to make sure our future planet is one we want to live on.

I’m also curious to hear from you. Do the topics above interest you? Would you like me to be sharing more about sustainability innovations and more non-fashion sustainability ideas? Would you be interested in hearing about what I’m learning? Share your thoughts in the Comments or send me an email.

August Break

This I Wear | August Break

Dear readers, though it feels as though summer just began yesterday, we are nearing the end of July already! It is time for play, being outside, eating watermelon, and doing nothing but sitting still when the heat is just too much. And that is exactly what I do each August when I take a little break from writing here to enjoy the warm weather.

While I strongly advocate that you too take some time away from your screen, I have a few ideas if you are looking for entertainment in the meantime:

01. Listen to the podcast “A Few Things with Claire and Erica”, the two friends behind the amazing site, Of A Kind. Their newsletter filled with spot-on recommendations was so wildly successfully that they’ve turned it into a weekly radio show with special guests. I love last week’s episode with tips on how to not just “throw away” your stuff if you’ve been inspired by the Marie Kondo craze. I also love love the episode on your 20s vs your 30s – it’s just too good.

02. Sign up for the Tradlands newsletter. I love a good, curated article list as much as I love an ethically made button down shirt. Sadie at Tradlands offers both to her email subscribers, and I currently can’t get enough.

03. Join me in counting down the days until Matt & Nat’s Fall ’15 handbags are released, and we finally get the beautiful red (vegan, ethically made) handbag of our dreams. See the sneak peek on Pinterest!

04. Find a hammock and settle in to read these two stunning articles that will have you questioning if any of us really know what we’re buying when we shop: “Online Grocery Shopping” via NYTimes and “The Myth of the Ethical Shopper” via HuffPo.

05. Revisit some oldies-but-goodies from the THIS I WEAR archives. Here are a few of my favorites:
I’m not a Fashion Omnivore
The Myth of Dry Cleaning
Sashiko: Finding Beauty in Mending
3 tips for recognizing quality clothing
Style Story: Yvette (my epic interview with my mom!)
The Black Silk Tunic & My Alter Ego

I also have a small favor to ask of you. I’d love to hear from you by email or in the Comments section below to know what you’d like more of here once I’m back next month. Are you wanting more style interviews, ethical brand recommendations, natural/organic beauty products, ethical home décor, tips on mending and investing in your clothes, sustainability career advice, or just good old stories of what I’m up to? Perhaps you are just hoping for a hit list of other bloggers, brands and communities to learn more about responsible fashion? Let me know.

See you in September!

Launch a Sustainable Fashion Company with Factory45

This I Wear | Announcing Factory45

It’s a two post sort of week, and for a very good reason. I’m really excited to share that Factory45, an online accelerator program for budding entrepreneurs who want to start a sustainable apparel company, is now accepting applications through March 2nd.

Factory45 was founded by Shannon Whitehead to help entrepreneurs with an idea for an apparel company and a passion for ethical, made-in-USA, sustainable fashion bring their idea to life and to market. The 4-month long online program connects participants to suppliers and manufacturers and teaches them how to raise capital to fund production.

It’s ideal for those who have a great idea for any type of sewn product but haven’t yet worked out all the logistics of sourcing, producing and financing.

I know each one of us has had to compromise on our values when we’ve made a fashion purchase. Finding something you love to wear that is also ethically produced, both in terms of human rights and the environment, is not easy just yet. But why wait any longer for someone else to do the work for you? If you’ve got a great idea for a product you want to see made ethically, maybe this program is just the boost you need to take action.

That’s not to say that applying to (and being accepted into) the Factory45 program isn’t a commitment. For the 4-month program and lifetime access, you’ll be investing just under $3000 in your idea. But if you’ve ever tried to go from an idea to a finished product (and do it sustainably!), you’ll know this program is going to pay for itself. And luckily, Shannon outlines every tiny detail of the program, including the curriculum, upfront so you know exactly what you’re signing up for and what you can expect from the program.

If you’re serious (or at least curious) about the Factory45 program, head to the website and start perusing. Just don’t forget to apply by March 2nd! As soon as I get the right idea, I might be joining you as well!

Full Disclosure: The above links to Factory45 are affiliate links. If you apply to and end up joining the program, I may receive a commission. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know honesty is the name of my game and I only make endorsements that I truly believe in! (Ask Shannon about the fan mail I’ve sent her!) My promise: I will always let you know when I use an affiliate link and I will always use any money earned to keep this site going.

[Photo courtesy of Factory45]

Get Your Style Straight

This I Wear | Into Mind WorkbookFinding your personal style is perhaps a lifelong journey, but working through Into Mind’s “Personal Style & The Perfect Wardrobe” workbook was only 5 months long, though it was 4.5 months longer than I expected it would take me.

When this minimalist wardrobe workbook was first released in fall of 2014, I purchased it and shared excitedly about the journey I was going to embark on. But I didn’t realize then that it would take me so long to complete. Nor did I realize it would be so hard. However, now that I’m at a happy place with it, I can tell you that it was worth it.

Some quick context: Anuschka Rees founded and writes a popular blog about creating a minimalist wardrobe, Into Mind. Her posts are expert lessons in garment quality, intentional living, creating a signature look, and so much more. The workbook is no less intensive – each section is an in-depth and reflective exercise to get you closer to finding your personal style and how to manifest it in your wardrobe, but it requires focus and time.

Initially, I found the workbook overwhelming, and I frequently found myself skipping pages after the initial closet dissection and preference finding sections. Yet the further I got into it and the more times I kept coming back to it, I found it easier to answer the questions. In fact, by the time I really had let it settle in (months later), I suddenly had a very focused Pinterest inspiration board that represents my style aspirations, and it felt really easy to explain my style. In “Section 6: Style Concept”, I felt proud to be able to write a single sentence summarizing my style, define the color palette, and identify the essential elements. That might sound silly, but it felt like an achievement.

That said, I don’t think you need to fill out every one of the 85 pages. I also think you should give yourself a long span of time to work on it, knowing that you’ll want to do some work, and then go back to it later to see if your answers hold up.

I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in experimenting with the capsule wardrobe idea that is so popular these days. I would also recommend this to anyone who like me has a disconnect between what they like and what’s in their closet: perhaps you know what you like but still can’t understand why it’s so hard to get dressed in the morning, or you keep buying the same “wrong” thing over and over without realizing it. Or perhaps you have an overflowing closet with many personalities and you’re trying to find the one that feels most right at this point in your life.

If you’re trying to make a wardrobe change and you’re willing to put in the time, I say go for it! Buy the workbook, put a nice printed copy in a binder, and get out your colored pencils and old issues of Vogue. And please tell me how it goes if you try it too.

P.S. Just to be super clear, I paid full-price for the workbook and do not receive any commission if you purchase it. I just think it’s a great tool!

On an unrelated note, I will likely not be posting next week as I’ll be traveling to visit family. See you back here the following week!

Onward

This I Wear | Onward

I love the fresh start of a new year, and this year in particular, there were so many things that I was glad to leave behind – probably more things than I could say that about in quite awhile and many of which left me exhausted enough to where writing wasn’t in the cards for the last few weeks! Gratitude, possibly the most overused word of 2014, seems like a burden more than a blessing after such a strange year for me. But actually once I gave it a moment of thought, I realized I was grateful for something this year. Not little “write a thank you note” level of grateful, but more like exploding fireworks levels of grateful.

What could inspire such levels of gratitude?

Well, this year, I’m grateful for what others might mistakenly call competition.

As I look back over 2014, I am filled with gratitude for something that I don’t talk about enough here: the other amazing writers/thinkers/doers that are making sustainable and ethical fashion and more thoughtful living and consuming an accessible and easier way of being for truly everyone.

I’ve written about it before, but for a long time I felt alone in this – looking for sustainable and responsible alternatives to what I was finding in stores as well as thinking differently about buying things. There have been other small movements – trends in buying secondhand and vintage clothes, the DIY movement, etc – but I’ve been waiting for the movement that emphasized quality and responsibility without compromising on aesthetics. The movement that was more about a lifestyle change than a small shift.

And looking back over this year, I feel like it’s arrived.

So for my moment of gratitude for 2014, I want to personally thank the people whom I think are doing an amazing job in this area – some of whom I know personally, and others I have only admired from afar; some of whom I agree with completely, and others that bring a different perspective but share a similar vision. These are my go-to visionaries and I am so grateful for what they’re adding to the conversation.

Susie, Style Bubble – for introducing ideas of sustainability in a brand new way to her fashion-focused audience. While the ideas might not seem revolutionary to those of us who have been exposed to sustainability for awhile now, Susie’s coverage of these ideas feels truly groundbreaking given her high fashion audience and her voice in the industry. I’ve become a huge fan over the last year.
Vanessa Friedman, NYTimes – for being bold enough to use an incredibly powerful position to shake some shit up in the fashion industry and question fashion’s seemingly untouchable modus operandi.
Bruno Pieters, Honest By – for being the best example of what real transparency is, and bringing authenticity to a historically inauthentic industry
Natalie, Alabama Chanin – for teaching everyone what’s actually possible for a fashion company to do. From fair wages to growing your own organic cotton, it might sound easier than it is in practice, but Natalie has shown us it’s not as impossible as it seems.
Danielle Vermeer – for her incredible passion for connecting people in sustainability
Anuschka, Into Mind – for breaking minimalism down for us so that simplicity is suddenly accessible
Courtney, Be More with Less (whom I recently discovered) – for showing that minimalism isn’t about stripping away everything, but bringing more meaning to what you have
The Ethical Writers Coalition – for taking the competition out of fashion blogging and showing that making eco-fashion the only kind of fashion is going to be a group effort.
Rita, The American Edit – for using her background in manufacturing to introduce us to the brands and people who are actually doing “Made in US” the right way. I’m not a “Made In USA” adherent but I really appreciate Rita’s perspective and wisdom.
Shannon Whitehead – honestly is there anything this woman is NOT doing? From teaching startups how to manufacture responsibly in the US to teaching us all more about sustainability in fashion, Shannon is killing IT on the ethical fashion education front and we’re all reaping the rewards.

This is a big list, but I would encourage all of you to check out these individuals and their work and be inspired. I think fashion is seen as a competitive field, and maybe blogging is too. But when I think about sustainability and the shared vision of a world that will be here and livable for future generations, there is no place for competition, only collaboration.

And I am so incredibly grateful and inspired by the people who each day use their voices and influence to promote a different vision, a different world where people are more happy, more content, living in sync and with respect for our earth, and not drowning in stuff.

Photo Sources (clockwise from top left): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

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