Today we will take a break from me writing and you reading about Haiku’s impressive selection of eco-friendly furnishings (although I have added several new, solid wood collections so check those out!). As I sit here staring at my overflowing closet, I am forced to confront my addiction: my name is Jovanna and I am addicted to buying clothes.
Granted, it’s not a big closet. It’s not as if I have a walk-in closet, 10 storage bins, and several trunks full of clothes... but still, I have a lot more than necessary. All this talk of minimalism has me feeling slightly hypocritical during this season of introspection. How much of this do I actually need? Do I need 35 dresses, 60+ shirts, 40+ sweaters/jackets/coats, 20 pants? Absolutely not. And for the sake of complete honesty… I just moved out of state from California and I only brought about a third of my previous closet with me… and yes...my original Oregonian closet has since expanded significantly. I most certainly have a problem, and it is a problem that MANY have.
The textile and clothing industry is one of the largest polluters in the world- second only to oil. The United Nations Climate Change site estimates the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Not to mention the enormous amounts of water, insecticides, and pesticides needed to grow cotton. Did you know it takes about 5,000 gallons of water to produce the cotton needed for a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans? Yeah. We learned something new today.
Believe me, I get it. Fashion is amazing, it’s exciting, it’s colorful, it’s expressive. Childhood me dreamt of one day having Hannah Montana’s rotating closet. I thought the key to having a jaw-dropping wardrobe was stuff, stuff, and more stuff, followed by a bit more stuff and just a touch of stuff. My shopping behavior lacked any and all techniques and decisions on whether or not to buy were based solely on “do I own this exact thing? No? I’m buying it”, regardless of how similar the piece might be to existing items in my closet. And do you know what this translates to? Untouched articles of clothing hanging in my closet, STILL with tags on. After a couple of years maybe I’d be forced to accept I’d never wear it, and I’d donate it along with bags full of other clothes with similar origin stories, only to repeat the cycle upon my next trip to the store.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past several months, about my behavior and my habits, about my polluting ways; which has thankfully led to a more conscientious existence. I’m no monk living off of the land, draped in simple handwoven textiles, but certainly much better than I was even a couple of years ago.
I’ve learned there are 2 main things you can do to minimize your textile waste without sacrificing style. The first is Vintage shopping. Vintage clothes (or if you prefer Vintage’s much less cool middle name “Thrift”) are storied, experienced, cultured. Vintage clothing has lived! Some say second-hand, I say second- life, am I right?! Let’s call it what it is, vintage is recycled clothing. As a society, we have to let go of the idea that shiny and new is more valuable than proven and worn. Recycled clothing requires no additional natural resources and therefore doesn’t contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. And before you say “Well, Jovanna once upon a time it WAS new and at that point, it DID contribute to global warming!” Allow me to drop some knowledge and crush that argument. NPR reports that in 2013, 15.1 million tons of textile waste was generated, 12.8 million tons of which was sent to landfills. Hong Kong discards as much as 253 tons of textiles, wait for it…..DAILY. The problem isn’t just the production of clothing, but also the irresponsible disposal of it.
Another reason I’m such a huge fan of thrift/vintage shopping is that it demands creativity. Department stores and fancy boutiques have outfits preselected and displayed on mannequins. If clothing is a form of expression for you, then choosing pre-constructed outfits takes all the fun, ingenuity, and creativity out of it. The skill lies in going to a thrift store and finding cool and interesting items that showcase your fashion sense. Just like women love to show off skirts and dresses with pockets (because they’re so rare in women’s clothing yet incredibly functional, obviously), I love touting my thrift store finds. I feel like a coal miner who just came across a diamond. Victorious!
The second thing one can do to reduce textile waste is to purchase quality, timeless pieces that will last forever. A real leather jacket, for example, is a great investment compared to a faux leather jacket you’ll have to replace after two winters. Sure these pieces will cost a pretty penny, but possessions should be about longevity and use, not about how quickly we can get rid of them. As hard-working individuals, we value our money and the time and effort it takes to acquire it. Why then are we so eager to get rid of it in the form of “new clothes” or other crappy products we don’t need? I’ll tell you one thing, on my deathbed I will not be thinking about the clothes I didn’t buy. I’ll be thinking of the vacations I didn’t save for because I was too busy filling my closet with shallow and superficial happiness.
So there you have it, folks. Haiku Designs believes in good, strong, high-quality products that will last for decades. Heirloom pieces of timeless design that can be passed down from generation to generation. Sure we focus on furniture, but I’m thinking about what’s going in those beautiful case pieces. If my home is to be conscientious and purposeful, then everything within has to follow that eco-friendly and sustainability creed.