Water is the universal solvent
As someone who spent a year working in the ocean and has scuba dived many parts of the world, I have witnessed the human impact on our earth’s water. Plastic is one of the biggest contributors to marine animal deaths, and I can say from experience that everywhere I have dived is littered with plastic, both seen and unseen.
Think about the fact that some of the biggest beauties in the ocean, whales and mantas, eat the smallest critters, plankton. It's hard to tell the difference between their food source and pieces of plastic. While working on a dive site cleanup in the Philippines with Project Aware, I couldn’t tell if I was picking up plastic or seaweed! Therefore, I don’t blame the sea creatures for being confused either. Plastic in the ocean is one of the most under reported environmental issues in the world!
What does this have to do with fashion? Consider this: every time we wash our clothes, they break down just a little bit. If we are washing polyester, acrylic, spandex, rayon, nylon, or acetate, then we are creating micro plastics that end up being flushed into our earth’s water. Fish then consume the plastic, and then we consume the fish and guess what! You're now eating plastic. These synthetic fibers leach perflourinated chemicals (PFCs) into our air and soil - even our skin when we wear them!
Fast fashion is cheap fashion using cheap materials and cheap labor (I will post more about fast vs. slow fashion later). Most of those cheap fabrics are synthetic, cheaply made in countries that have very few environmental policies. I am extremely passionate about this topic and can be emotional when discussing our human impact on the ocean. Is it fair to pollute our waterways or the communities of those making these synthetics?
On a lighter note: Retail Therapy featured Cynthia Ashby’s work last month and is carrying her line in the spring. After looking into her history more, I soon learned that all of her pieces are handmade at her studio in Illinois. She is also the sole owner of her company, uses primarily natural fibers in her clothing, AND has her own dyeing process. As someone working on a startup, she is someone I look up to. Although clean water isn’t her mission, she participates in slow fashion and uses natural fibers.
In these photos I am wearing one of Cynthia Ashby's hand-dyed scarves made of a bamboo/cotton blend. It is so soft and warm and I love that the dyeing looks like moving water.
To showcase the scarf, I paired it with my Patagonia cruelty-free down coat and DL1961 jeans made from American grown cotton.