Do you like clothes? Do you love fashion? Do you enjoy putting together outfits? Or are clothes more utilitatrian for you? My mother has told me I've always loved fashion. I remember riding my bike to a casket factory and dumpster diving for silk remants to make my Barbie doll clothes when I was a kid. (Clearly that was back in the day when ten year olds were out exploring the neighbourhood on their bikes without parental supervision.) My friends and I would go find all kinds of beautiful fabrics and come home and hand sew outfits. And it wasn't just my dolls that were well dressed. I started carrying a purse when I was 5. I worked in retail stores throughout high school so I could buy clothes with an employee discount. I can tell you what I was wearing in all of the significant memories of my life.
So when I started looking at the bigger impact of my clothing purchases it was disturbing. Was I supporting garment factories? I had no idea how much water it took to make one T-Shirt. (It takes 2700 litres of water to make one T-Shirt.) This awareness that my choices were actually hurting people and our planet created a crisis for me. Then to top it off the first time I went to Cambodia I saw first hand the living conditions of garment workers. It was deeply disturbing.
When I returned to Canada I decided to start being more thoughtful about my purchases. And I took to social media to find out more. On Instagram I discovered this week's guest, Leah Wise. She is a writer and blogger based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her expertise in the fields of sustainable fashion and social justice have afforded her the opportunity to write for publications such as Elephant Journal, Mind Body Green, Relevant Magazine, and Christianity Today, as well as on her own blog, stylewise-blog.com. Over the past five years, Leah has created successful influencer marketing campaigns with dozens of ethical brands on her blog platform. Leah has been named a top sustainable blogger by Bustle, ORIGIN Magazine, AGAATI, FeedSpot, and Moon Cloth, and has received various write-ups on ethical lifestyle blogs and brand websites.
Here are some of the highlights of what we talked about and links to some of her articles for more on those topics.
Capsule Wardrobes: If you love expressing yourself through fashion and the idea of limiting yourself to 33 items makes you feel stifled creatively check out Leah’s take on capsule wardrobes. Read her blog post here: Why I Quit My Capsule Wardrobe Leah also talks about the Wonder Wardrobe Capsule Closet Course - read her blog post about it here and if it appeals to you there is a discount code at the end of her post if you decide to sign up.
Are you wondering about sustainable/ethical/fair trade and other terms? When you start to think about your purchases including clothing you begin to encounter a lot of new terms. Leah defines them in this episode and in more detail on her website. This resource is very helpful as you start to navigate this new world in your clothing shopping.
We discussed Leah's blog post: I Don't Think Conscious Consumerism Has Made Me a Better Person where she discussed some of the struggles that go along with being an online influencer in this area. There is a lot to think about this week! At the end of the episode I ask Leah for some more resources to inform and inspire you on this journey.
Leah suggested these two documentaries to expand your thinking on this topic:
The True Cost and Poverty Inc.
To connect with Leah you can find her at her website or on Instagram.
A Blessing for Equilibrium
by John O'Donohue
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what's said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the depths the laughter of God.