Thursday, September 2, 2010
Last night I read Julie's (from Towards Sustainability) parting post. It made an impact. She talked about how she loses readers every time she blogs about the hard issues - peak oil and the like. She is saddened by it and wonders why.
I think I know a little bit of why. Because I'm one of the guilty ones. I'm guilty of ignoring those hard issues and hoping they will go away. Also, blogging is a little bit of escapism for me. In the evening, when the kids are in bed, I can zoom around the world learning interesting and useful things, looking at beautiful work and peeking into other's lives. After a hard day's work, the last thing I want to do is be scared, depressed and overwhelmed by reading about global warming and the oil crisis. But can I really afford to be so ostrich-like?
From Julie's blog, I jumped to Causabon's Book and I watched this clip. Go watch it for a little humorous but serious de-ostriching.
One big reason I know I've been ignoring the issues lately is quilting....
Quilting. My obsession, my love, my sanity, my work (maybe one day). Quilting is not generally an environmentally friendly hobby. It has it's roots in thrift and recycling, but not any more. The vast majority of quilters, me included, buy new fabric to add to our stashes whenever we can. And our preferred fabric is cotton.
Cotton growers traditionally use a hideous amount of synthetic fertilisers, insecticides and herbicides to grow their crop. And when it is grown in a developing country, like India, safety practices with these chemicals can be severely lacking, leading to human poisoning. Then, of course, is the genetic modification issue - another thorny one. If you want to read some more scary facts, click here for Organic Trade Association's Summary of Cotton and the Environment. Shall we talk about dyes? Let's not, we might all end up naked for fear of poisoning ourselves.
If I acknowledge that we have a real environmental crisis on our hands and that I really need to keep making changes in my life, then I can't go on blissfully ignoring my quilting and fabric addiction. My conscience just won't let me.
So where does that leave me? I've had a little look around in the past and organic fabric is not readily available and is very expensive in New Zealand. I could source only thrift store fabrics fabrics and cut up old clothes etc, but that limits me with colours and patterns. I could try dying my own colours with vegetable dyes, but I know they are not that stable. All my immediate options that spring to mind all have drawbacks that makes me want to dismiss them.
Maybe this issue was a subconscious factor in my recent vow not to buy any more fabric this year. I don't know. But I do know that I can't really ignore the elephant in the room anymore.
I have made plenty of other steps in my life to live a little lighter on the land. I compost. I grow my own veges. I raise my own meat and have chooks for scrap disposal and egg production. I'm mindful of food miles and try and buy local and organic when I can. I reduce, reuse and recycle. I combine outings to save gas....the list goes on.
But fabric is what is niggling in the back of my mind every time I quilt. And I don't want to feel guilty and sad about my most favourite past time.
So it is with some trepidation and some excitement that I'm going to take some steps in what I hope will be a journey towards more sustainable quilting. I am going to seriously investigate organic fabric supplies and eco-dying. I am going to add fabric to my shopping list when I visit thrift stores and I am going to restrain myself from buying new fabrics 'just because'. And I'm going to regularly post about what I've learnt and where I'm going on my little journey.
I'm going to stick to my pledge not to buy any new fabric this year, however I'm not going to turn my back entirely on commercial fabrics. Quilting is my art as well and I don't want to stifle myself so much that I begrudge the whole journey.
What a challenge! Environmentally friendly, sustainable and, hopefully, beautiful quilts!
Wish me luck!