Librarian’s Pick of the Week: The True Cost Documentary and a List of My Favorite Conscious Clothing Brands

Library patrons are always asking me, “what have you read (sometimes seen) lately that you loved?”  This is what I loved this week.

The True Cost  directed Andrew Morgan

Why: As the title infers, the film is about the true cost of fast fashion, meaning what we purchase from the Gap, Kohl’s, Target, H&M, Uniqlo, Walmart, et al, clothing typically manufactured in third world countries with very little to no safety regulations protecting those making the clothing or their surrounding environment.  One example of the ugly reality of cheap clothing is when we buy inexpensive leather from a fast fashion brand, such as Target.  It’s produced in countries such as India, Cambodia or China, or from whichever factory offers the lowest price, and that trickles down to less pay for the employees, often for mere dollars per day.  Additionally, the dyes used to color the leather leaches out into their local environment, again, where there are very low to no environmental regulations, thereby poisoning the water and land that those making next to nothing, also commonly referred to as slave labor, depend on.

As a solution, the film stresses the importance of organic cotton (non-organic can actually contain GMOs), fair trade, which gives factory workers a higher wage, and if possible, locally made.  The cost of organic, locally made and/or fair trade clothing can be traditionally higher than a $10.00 sweater from Zara, but I’ve found that I’ve actually spent less money in the long run because my choices are now carefully considered, as opposed to purchasing mass amounts of cheap clothes that I typically never wore.  When I saw this film in 2016, it completely rocked my world by very clearly explaining how my purchasing power directly influences so many cogs on the planet, blossoming out from my local economy to the pollution in Cambodia to suicide in India.  The power of our purchases can literally be a matter of life or death for thousands of women, exactly like you or I, who work to earn a living and sacrifice their safety and health to just live.

My Favorite Ethical Clothing Brands 

Here are just a few of my personal favorites, but check out The Good Trade, an awesome website for lists of locally made, organic, fair trade, and really anything you’d want to know about ethically made clothing and products.

Everlane
IMBY
Nisolo
PACT Apparel
Mata Traders
Slumlove Sweater Company
Fair Indigo
Brook There
Indosole

 

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Use Your Power of Purchase! Two Kickstarter Campaigns Worth The Dough

I’m a big believer in purchase power.  If you spend your money at Walmart, for example, then you support Walmart and all its practices regarding employees, the environment, its political stance, et al.  If you participate in a CSA (a local produce share box), then you support small farmers in your community and you’re saying yes to organic food.  When you support Kickstarter Campaigns like these, you are using your purchase power to support a cleaner earth, small business, and help to fight against big business and their own campaigns to capitalize off of the sexualization of women’s bodies.

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New York based gals Alexis and Jess, creators of the website Beauty Lies Truth are working to get the word (and the products) out about safe and healthy beauty products that are actually good for you and the environment.  It may come as a shock but the U.S. government isn’t doing the greatest job at protecting the public, and these gals are helping us to become better informed about what we purchase and put in and on our bodies.

Their Kickstart Campaign, titled #TRUTHBEAUTY is raising funds to purchase environmentally safe beauty products that you’ll be sent in the mail.

It is our mission to find the most conscious companies making safe, effective products, and then make those products affordable and accessible.

 Visit their website for DIY beauty tips and great articles on the whats and whos about the beauty products that you use everyday.

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Based in the UK, designer Hayat Rachi has created her feminist lingerie brand, Neon Moon, which is made by a woman, for real women in our varied sizes and shapes, and is raising funds to bring the brand to fruition.  Want to know what feminist lingerie could look like?  Check out the video here and to donate.  Made from from highly renewable bamboo, the lingerie is said to be comfortable, antibacterial, and just from the sight of it, really cute and stylish.

Bra

Personally, I am in love with this bra.

My Year of Water

It all started with a bucket…100_2175

Since I was a young gal, I had always lived in homes where it took at least a full minute for the water to warm sufficiently to wash my face or hands.  And since I was little, I always felt ill at ease knowing that the water, which was in such need as evidenced by all of those third world country commercials especially rampant in the 80s and 90s, was going literally down the drain.  So, now that I’m a big girl, I figured I can do what I want and left a glass next to the bathroom sink and a bucket in the bathtub.  Whenever I turned 100_2182on the water, I poured the cold water, glass by glass, into the bucket in the bathtub until the desired warmth. Gradually, this evolved to pouring the glasses of water spoiled by my cats’ spit (because GOD FORBID they actually drink out of their own bowl), the water in the shower, and the water left over after blanching vegetables and cooking pasta.

The aforementioned experiment in good will began towards the end of 2011, and left me in100_2180 wonder of how much water I was actually saving (what was done with the water in the bucket to follow shortly).  Given the perfect timing, I set out on a year-long quest to pour, document, conserve and, lastly, calculate (resulting in some arguments with my spouse and the cats along the way).  My study 100_2186begins on the first of the year in 2012, through New Year’s Eve. My bucket holds six liters, and I marked how many liters per day via a calendar hung on the wall in the bathroom.  Some days yielded only one liter, and other days, fifteen liters.  Different months yielded differing results, i.e. the stay-cation when showers were a rare occurrence for the week, hence no water from the shower. Or, trips back from the farmers’ market when lots of greens were blanched, leaving pots and pots of green liquid that further fed my indoor and container plants on the porch.

The results below reflect that of a household containing two adults and two full-grown cats.

Here are my 2012 results:

612 liters of water saved, or

306 2 liter bottles, or

Pool

Just over 159 gallons

If only 9 people did this in one year, we could fill up a pool this size ————————————>

The most water gathered was from heating up the water before the shower, and after the shower.  (You know, after you’re down showering, when you turn off the water, that little button-like device that turns the shower water into the faucet water pops down and a lot of extra water comes out at the end after it’s off.)  Just before I knew I was going to turn the water off, I’d stick the bucket under and almost a full liter would come out each time.

You may be wondering, what does one do with all of that water throughout the year, especially during the colder months?100_2178 It was used in a number of ways.  As previously mentioned, watering my indoor plants, plants on the porches during the warmer months, and the Christmas tree during December, but mostly, it was used to flush the toilet, which is a little wonderful secret that remains elusive to many people.  If your toilet is full of (liquid) waste, you can pour the bucket of water down and it will not only flush, but refill some of the way.  It’s really quite 100_2176amazing if you’ve never tried it before.  Our household is also a “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” one, so the times that the toilet is actually flushed each day is minimal.

At this point, I’d like to think that you’re wowed and awed by the findings.  But, I’d like to drive the point home a little more, if I may.  Let’s face it, in the U.S., we live in a patriarchal, capitalist society, based on consumption, aggression and power.  Meaning, we’ve aggressively tried to exercise our power over the environment by consuming mass amounts of our natural resources, and in turn dumping our excess into landfills and the air.  Therefore, saving water, composting, recycling, et al may seem counterintuitive considering the constant intake of advertising telling us to consume, consume, consume.  In short, wasting water seems normal to us because it’s completely acceptable, if not encouraged in other, more subtle queues in our daily lives.

Now that it’s 2013, the bucket has become a permanent fixture in the bathtub. Some have responded to my bucket with resistance, including disgusted facial expressions and my personal favorite, “My husband would never let me do that” (I’ll keep my response to that one to myself).  The biggest hurdle is accepting responsibility and making that commitment.  Saying that you’re going to “go green” is great, but our planet doesn’t really care about your empty promises.  I am by no means “there” yet–I don’t ride my bike everywhere, I occasionally forget my coffee mug at the coffee shop, and I still put a lot of crap into the landfill.  But, day by day, the attempt is made to do what’s right and accept accountability for how I treat the earth.  It suffices to say that my six liter pink-handled bucket is now a part of our family; hopefully it will become a part of yours.

Below: my bucket today, catching water from a leaky faucet.

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2014 Update: The faucet has been fixed, but water is still being saved in other creative ways-water from blanching chard, water left over from canning, et al.