(Had to get off my two-tracks for a minute or two. Transcribing interviews is kind of mind numbing. So, hello!)
I recently read “Year of Plenty:” a book about a family who commits to following a few strict consumption rules for a whole year. I have a bad memory for book specifics, but the gist is this: buy local, buy used, buy handmade– get to know the people behind your stuff.
This wasn’t an earth-shattering or life-changing concept for me. Ty and I try to be mindful of the things that pass through our kitchen (and, inevitably– through us). Soon, we will plant a garden. For the last few months, we have been buying the most delicious fresh eggs from these people (except right now we have a $3 credit and NO EGGS…ahem). We have a freezer so full of deer meat and fresh-frozen corn that you have to be sure each item you remove isn’t the keystone of the stack, causing the whole frozen heap to fall at your feet. We started baking fresh bread. More on that here. Look at that bread!
Our food habits are progressing–or maybe more accurately, regressing. Which is something that is getting a lot of attention, right now. People are paying attention to the Food Inc.’s and the Michael Pollen’s because people have to eat.
I am not a farmer, and I can hardly call myself a contributor to our little garden. In an small way, I understand that growing food is–at the same time– really hard work, and something that is so much a part of humanness that those of us who aren’t doing it are missing out on something.
For me, I feel that way about sewing quilts. Taking a quilt idea from my head to real life is a long process. (Sometimes, I forget just how long it is– hi, Marlyn!) But, through the process, I put pieces of me into the quilt (sometimes hairy real-life pieces of me… and my cat), and the creating gives me something right back. For me, sewing can be therapy, community. I feel so strongly about this, that I’ve spent the last year of my life researching, preparing for, writing about, and actually quilting with grieving middle schoolers.
So, who knows why it took so long for me to make the connection between all of this, and the actual human beings that make the clothes on my back. The point is, I understand that the making-of-things is special– bordering on sacred. So, for me to ignore the reality that: a.) I have no relationship to the fingers that stitched my clothing and b.) some of those fingers are treated poorly, is beyond hypocritical.
So, what am I going to do about it?
The first thing– and the actual item on my 30 before 30 list– is to actually try my hand at making an item of clothing. I can sew one straight line after another to make a quilt, but clothing is an entirely different animal. So, I’m going to be realistic here, and say that I want to make one piece of clothing– probably a skirt– and be confident enough to wear it in public. Maybe I’ll be awesome at it, and will venture into other pieces. (This brings up a whole new question about the production of cotton that I am currently choosing to ignore, hypocrite that I am.)
Knowing that I will never be a self-sufficient wardrobe factory, I also want to try to be more mindful about my consumption and use of the clothing I do buy.
For example, on Friday, I forced myself to repair a shirt that I damaged the second time I wore. I bought the shirt on clearance, so I could have bought a new one and still paid less than the price of one full-priced shirt, but I didn’t. So, that’s a start.
Additionally, a friend posted this link on Facebook, yesterday. The site grades clothing, jewelry, food, electronic, and producers of other items based on policies, worker rights, transparency, and monitoring. (Son of a…! M & M’s got a D-. Ignorance is bliss.) The site doesn’t have a comprehensive list, but it’s a start, and I wonder how many other sites are doing the same type of ratings.
So, that’s where I am. Hopefully soon, you’ll see me on the streets, sadder but wiser, deprived of M & M’s and sporting a less-than-perfect, but handmade-by-me skirt.