The pace of change is speeding towards us
The young adults living in my home, who are part of generation-Z, are accepting the pace of change brought on by the pandemic. Home schooling, buying goods and services online and adapting to new ways of socializing with friends has been a relatively easy transition. We have seen this adaptability across the cohort. In our case, I have noticed they seem to thrive on the pace of change, even going so far as to call for reform in other areas of life.
As parents, it is sometimes difficult to go with the flow when young people are tearing at the walls of society that have served us well. Or have they? That is the question. We are certainly used to the status quo, but are we really thriving in it? In many measurable ways the answer is yes, but we know that the pandemic is only the first small wave of change on the horizon. There are far greater demands for change around the corner.
In every sector of society the pace of change is speeding towards us. We can choose to ride this wave or be pushed over by its force. It will come down to how we prepare for it. Standing firm in our habits, being inflexible and resolute, with the attitude that our way is right will cause a collision of forces. Rather, we need to be looking ahead, reading the signs and adapting our methods to test and learn, as quickly as possible.
You can pick any human need from Maslow’s pyramid and question how we can better serve each other? For me, this line of thinking starts at the base, with our basic needs. I’ve spent the last decade learning about our food systems and finding ways of bringing the best ingredients into our family life, without being militant. I’ve learned that these are personal choices and everyone needs to find their own path. Luckily, there are so many ways to easily support a sustainable food system today.
When it comes to clothing, the changes needed are slow to be made. Fast fashion has created an illusion of excess with great expense to people and the planet. Our wardrobes change quickly with products that are inexpensive and thought to be disposable since they are crafted with such low quality. But there are some promising ideas on the horizon. Established clothing brands are making easy switches. Organic and recycled fabrics are becoming more common. Items of higher quality that can be washed and worn for years, instead of months. Minimalist and capsule wardrobes focus consumers towards buying less. All good initiatives, a good place to start.
As consumers, we need to be the change we want to see. This begins with thinking about what we can make for ourselves with what we have on hand. The Larson’s are Crafting a Family Business with Milk & Honey 1860. If we start to pay attention to our local farmer’s markets, we may find there are many families with farm gate businesses who could use our support.
Looking to larger operations, Harvest & Mill: Grown and Sewn in the USA. This brand is working on the ‘seed to stitch’ model thereby greatly reducing the transportation footprint of each product they create. It was only thirty years ago that the USA saw the decline of their local apparel industry. It is pretty easy calculation to reduce dozens of low quality purchases from fast fashion retailers down to a few high quality, local brands.
Another way to think about apparel is to question if the item is Good for the Earth and Your Skin? That is what Kat Quigley, founder of Sustain by Kat, asked when she became pregnant with her first child. In particular, she was curious about the chemicals that are absorbed into our skin via the clothes we wear. Even a so called natural plant fibre like cotton goes through a dissing array of processes and treatments before it is made into a garment. (The Life of a Garment, from Seed to Sale: 6 Steps in the Fashion Supply Chain). I’m pretty sure most us do not want heavy metals, formaldehyde, and known cancer-causing agents to be in our clothes.
Some brands are getting back to nature and using plants to dye the fabric before it is sewn into garments. These Designers Just Want You to Get Amped About Their Chaga-Dyed Clothes. Bobby Bonaparte and Max Kingery, the duo behind the fashion line Olderbrother, could give a TED Talk on the nightmarish impact the garment industry has on the environment. But they would rather not. Instead, they quietly construct their whimsical unisex clothes from sustainably harvested fabrics like organic Japanese cotton and use vivid dyes made from almost exclusively edible pigments. Of course these items are not inexpensive, but the idea here is – ‘more is less’. Quality takes time.
Thinking about quality and time, I am fascinated by Irene Rasetti, who is a Calgary based natural textile artist. She creates the most stunning pieces of silk fashion with hand dyed colors using plants in a very interesting technique. To purchase one of her pieces would require an investment, but it would be an heirloom. Something made with countless hours of love to delivery a lifetime of beauty.
I have been greatly inspired by these artists. No matter what scale they are operating at, they are each making a difference in the world. Their innovation is to stop and think about ‘what is the sustainable thing to do’. If more of us did that every day, we would create the world we ultimately want, instead of being subject to the speed of change racing towards us.