Today is Earth Day, a reminder how wasteful humans can be and of the small contributions we can make to clean up our act. This is a favorite holiday of mine as this theme runs year round throughout my blog posts. I am not a collector of flotsam. I collect well-designed clothing, vintage hats, and accessories. Occasionally, I lose interest in my purchases, so I give them to friends, as I can't be bothered selling online. Clutter stresses me out to the point that I had a recent conversation with my mother and father regarding their basement and garage. Their clutter collection could have its own category on eBay.
Here's a snippet of our dialogue:
Me: You guys are getting old. You had better start getting rid of all the shit in your house, because once you die all of it is going into a dumpster. If you think I am going to waste my time listing things on eBay you are sadly mistaken."
Father: (First shock at my directness and then…) Yeh, yeh, I know I will start to sell more on eBay. You really shouldn't throw it away though. Things have value.
Me: You know what has value? My sanity. If you don't quell your addition to collecting, I have another addiction you might like. Try heroin. It is cheap, and will leave you so lethargic on your couch, you won't want to shop. Just promise me you won't shop on QVC while you are barely breathing.
Father: That isn't funny. We have a heroin epidemic.
Me: Look, I don't care. Everyone has an addiction. Mine happens to make me look amazing 24/7.
Mom: How did I raise you?
For Earth Day last year, I made a floating vessel out of plastic green gingerale bottles for my wheelchair Barbies. I gave the plastic bottle remnants to my friend, Jamie Kreitman, to construct a fashionable eco-friendly necklace.
This year, I decided not to make anything, but to bring my Barbies to sit by the magical Hudson River. We marveled at the river's splendor and gave thanks for access to clean water. I hope that the water in my part of New York state won't be tainted by chemicals used by corporations to extract natural gas from fracking. These entities must be strictly regulated, so they will be held accountable if chemicals leach into nearby water sources.
Another issue I have been thinking about is clothing production overseas. On April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,100 and injuring 2,500. This sweat shop factory is one of many used by brands such as Joe Fresh, Mango, Walmart, JCPenny, and the Children's Place (though it was unclear whether they had active manufacturing at the time of the collapse.) to manufacture low-priced clothing. The average monthly wage of the mostly female workers is $68 a month.
As a result of this tragedy, Bangladeshi photojournalist Ismail Ferdous and filmmaker Nathan Fitch created the collaborative project, "Cost of Fashion." They're requesting that the brands associated with Rana Plaza compensate the victims' families and those injured to improve working conditions and a right to fair wages.
Additionally, a fashion industry leaders created FASHION REVOLUTION to remind everyone on April 24 of each year that there is a price we pay for cheap fashion. The mission of Fashion Revolution is to ask the brands where their clothing is produced, and to make an effort to improve working conditions for their workers.
Here's how you can help this Thursday, April 24th:
1. Be curious. Look at the labels on your clothes. Where is your shirt from? Who made it?
2. Find out. Contact brands and ask them who made your clothes, to discover the real people throughout the supply chain. Send the brand a photo/video of your garments on Facebook/Twitter, and ask them by tagging it with #InsideOut and @Fash_Rev.
3. Tell your friends, family and colleagues about Fashion Revolution Day.
Would you like to do more? Read this PDF.
Finally, please watch this video of the devastation after the collapse of Rana Plaza. Corporate profits shouldn't trump human life. This video is incredibly humbling and needs to be seen.
Please be cognizant of the clothing you wear and where it is made. This can be a reality, since even in China wages are rising as a result of workers' protests. One day, we will live in a world where workers are as important as the corporations who profit most.