Recently, I was at a talk given by Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, The Shock Doctrine, and most recently, This Changes Everything. She is also a film maker and social activist. During her talk Klein mentioned India's Earth Sciences Minister, Harsh Vardhan, comments that India's recent deadly heatwave was a result of climate change and the impact that the garment industry has had on climate change.
Such an un-glamorous topic. But an important one because it made me think about the carbon foot-print my own sewing has on the environment.
It is not just global fashion brands, some of those textile fibres end up in fabric stores. In recent years, I have noticed a trend in the aisles of the fabric stores. "UNKNOWN FIBRES" boldly stamped across fabric tags. Shouldn't I also be asking who makes my fabrics?
But hold on a second! Fashion is part of the oil industry. Annually, the global production of textile fibres consumes 33 trillion gallons of oil. We don't like to think about it when we're at the fabric store and looking at those gorgeous colours lining the tables with bolt after bolt of fabric. Have you notice that there is a LOT of polyester out there? The main ingredient to produce polyester is ethylene, which is derived from petroleum. Not so hard to imagine now.
This is enough to get me to start thinking about my own fabric purchases. Sadly I should admit that my fabric stash has a high quantity of polyester. I have to admit that it is getting harder and harder to find natural fibre fabrics. But that can not become an excuse.
In my community my favourite fabric store is Mitchell Fabrics. They sell a LOT of polyester as well, but they also sell organic cotton, fair trade knits, and natural fibre fabrics.
So today's shout out is to Mitchell Fabrics for making a conscious effort to offer fair trade and organic fabrics. It is the place in the city that I can find silk, cotton, linen, wool suiting with or without man-made fibre content. Unlike the other fabric stores in the city that seem to think it is okay to slap "Unknown Fibre" labels on their bolts if they even have a label.
I know that I would like to know who, where, and how my fabrics are produced. I want to become more conscious about the carbon footprint my own sewing is leaving by what kind of fabrics and supplies I settle and search for along the way.
How about you, has environmental and human rights issues played a role in your fabric purchases?