Wow – I’m totally blown away by all the great comments and product ideas pouring in from the Earth Day Giveaway. Thanks, guys! I wish I could give some away to all of you to make the fabulous things you’ve got in mind!
The celebration of Earth Day turns 40 today, and it’ a nice opportunity to take a moment to mark the changes over the past years. Although I wish the need to draw attention to the environment were not so urgent, it gives me hope to realize how much we’ve progressed, especially in the past few years. I remember when recycling was a fairly radical concept. My mother, ever the pioneering environmentalist, helped to organize the first recycling truck in our neighborhood, and we kids got (or “had”, which was our attitude at the time) to man the truck on Saturdays and help people drop off their glass, cans and papers. Now, where I live, anyway, very little needs to go to the landfill. We have recycling for almost all packaging and waste, yardwaste gets picked up and converted to mulch, and my husband and I compost almost everything else – or give it to our pet worms.
Now the “reduce” and “reuse” part of the “reduce, reuse, recycle” rallying cry … well, we’re still working on that. But there are so many simple steps we can take to eliminate much of what we throw away – especially packaging and bags. My New Year’s resolution last year was to remember bring reusable grocery bags to the store, and I’ve been sticking to it (keeping them in the car helps). I have a Chico bag (a gift from my mother) that I carry in my purse for other shopping needs, and it’s perfect – lightweight, about the size of a small apple when rolled up, holds a lot, always handy. And I’ve become totally smitten with all the handmade, reusable totes, shopping bags, lunch bags and grocery bags I’ve seen on Etsy. I know the problem is much bigger than grocery bags, but it’s a start. If you haven’t seen Annie Leonard’s informative and entertaining short film Story of Stuff, please check it out here.
Another thing that has really picked up in recent years is our access to organic foods and products. Many grocery stores are including a large organic section, and the growth of farmers’ markets has been huge! I can’t say enough about how important it is to support your local – and hopefully sustainable – farmers.
And then, finally, there’s fabric. I’ve known about the high pesticide requirements of cotton for some time, but until relatively recently, organic fabric seemed like such a rare, and generally not very cute, commodity. Then, a couple of years ago, I was researching organic alternatives when I stumbled onto the Harmony Art website and thought “A-ha! Organic fabric can be sustainable and beautiful!” Since then, I’ve been delighted to discover more and more talented designers choosing to go this route. Lucky us! Lucky earth! When I finally decided to manufacture my own line, it seemed like the obvious choice. But just in case I had second thoughts, I happened to hear a piece on NPR early in my production process that discussed India’s “Green Revolution” (which refers to the introduction of pesticides to their agricultural processes, not “green” in today’s lingo). The piece highlighted the severe health impacts that pesticides have had on farmers in India, one of the primary producers of cotton fabric. It was yet another persuasive article promoting pesticide-free choices. To read or listen to the piece, click here. Yes, it is more expensive than conventional cotton. But as more people buy organic fabric, and as more manufacturers produce it, the demand will rise and the costs should fall. And we will all end up with a higher quality, more beautiful and environmentally sustainable product.
Alright, that’s more than enough soap-boxing for one day. I hope you all get a chance to get outside and enjoy the earth a bit today!