It’s there in the background all the time but I usually just get caught up in life, you know? Then, Fashion Revolution week comes around. And so I’ve been thinking about it more this week, helped along by Petit a Petit and Family’s event. As a maker, I know first hand the work that goes into clothing. I wouldn’t want to be paid pennies to do this but I sit here writing this post and feeling like a fraud in pajamas I got at Target. I could have made my pajamas. I could be a machine and just crank out my clothes and my kids’ clothes. I would be miserable and would I really be helping?
Yeah, “mom made my clothes”. Except for a bunch of stuff. I don’t even think I made the majority of the girls’ clothes. (I’m getting there in my own wardrobe though.) But the thing that bothers me is the textiles. The workers sewing up clothes aren’t working with dyes and other harmful chemicals at least. Making my wardrobe doesn’t help those textile workers and it could be argued that my use of fabric isn’t nearly as efficient as a factory’s. What’s left for me to do? Sourcing good quality, eco-friendly, fair trade fabrics that will work for the garments I make is easier said than done. I do it as frequently as possible. Ultimately though, buying tons of fabric, even ethical fabric, is pretty much just the same as buying tons of clothes.
I’ve come to believe that our biggest problem is overconsumption. I don’t know about others but not buying, reducing my use of resources, that’s the most uncomfortable. That’s what challenges my whole lifestyle. And I harbor no illusions about it. My western lifestyle is the problem. Not just for workers needing faire wages and safe working conditions but also for the environment. Producing more goods for less money means environmental concerns are forgotten and workers’ rights are trampled. You know, it only occurred to me this year that Earth Day is during Fashion Revolution week. It feels appropriate.
And here is where I’m thankful I’m a maker, striving to fill her wardrobe with handmade goods. It forces me to think about each item and ask myself if it’s worth my time. Yes, I still go shopping (though much less than before because it cuts into my sewing time) but now, I only buy something if I know it will be used and loved for years to come. I mend holes in worn and loved clothing. I even think maybe I might be able to kick the overconsumption habit during my lifetime…