Well, it's that time of year again! Time to have a bit of a critical look at yourself in the mirror, and decide if you are living the best life you can live.... And I'm not really talking about real mirrors, I'm talking about slightly more metaphorical reflections here.
I think that it has become more and more evident that the way we each live our lives can really, honestly have an effect on the future of this beautiful world that we call home. If each of us thought 'well I'm only one person, what possible effect can I have on the environment?' then nobody would ever achieve anything. It's the cumulative effect of thousands and millions of us standing up for a healthier planet, making our own efforts, however small, that will really bring about change.
Today I read a newspaper article about the throw-away society that seems to have become the accepted norm - people buying more than they need, throwing cheaply produced garments away once they've been photographed in them, and knowingly choosing not to care about the effect that this culture has not only on the workers who are being exploited in order to make these cheap clothes, but also the environmental impact that it is having. We're talking about not only cheap processes (dyes the are destroying local rivers, water diverted from huge areas of China to the industrial areas, badly built factories that the lives of staff at risk), but also the ever increasing mountain of clothing that is going into land fill. Many man-made fibres just don't degrade. Think about sports clothing, outdoor clothing. How long does a fleece take to break down for example?
Enough ranting (well, actually I don't think that's possible, but anyway...). Now is the time to look at practical ways that we can each live a more sustainable life, through our sartorial choices as much as by deciding to cut out meat for January. In fact, much could be achieved simply by changing the way we consume fashion. And I can't help but notice that a lot of it is a matter of going back to the old ways. Many people who know my style and design of old will know that I have a bit of an obsession with the old ways. I have always preferred to use natural fibres over man-made - they feel nicer for a start. And for a second, they have properties that people have been trying to recreate for years and years in man-made fabrics. The fact is that you will never be able to improve on nature. Wool, for example, is breathable, warm, showerproof, and hugely versatile. What could be better than that?! Silk not only feels exquisite against the skin, but it also breathes, keeps you warm, keeps you cool, and reflects light like it was conceived of in heaven. Time to check that contents label next time you're tempted....?
Another wonderful way in which we can do our bit for the planet is to consume less. Simple as that. When my mother was young she only had two outfits - school uniform and play clothes (she may be exaggerating for effect, but basically that's the gist of it). When we are constantly being told what trend to follow, and offered new delights from our favourite retailers, it can be very hard to say no. I'm quite lucky on the front because I don't really go near any clothes shops very often, so no temptation. How would it be if we invested more money in a garment that was going to really last - an heirloom piece shall we say? A perfect tweed jacket that you can call on any day of the week? A wool skirt that will never let you down?
And if you do get tried of wearing the same things, why not rest them in the attic for a year or two? Or swap them with your sister for a while? How about giving them to charity instead of the bin men? How about adding patches to the elbows? Or a spot of ostentatious darning (use a different coloured yarn to make it stand out)? You could even completely restyle your worn out blouse and turn it into a skirt or a shopping bag.... The possibilities are endless. Can you think of anything I've missed?