Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's Not Easy Buying Green

From the New York Times comes this report on the dilemma facing the fashion-savvy environmentally aware consumer: is it better to buy the $295 organic cotton jeans, or the $7,600 "recycled fabric" dress?

Oh, to have such troubles.

But as the article itself points out, the "greenest" consumption solution is the solution that doesn't involve consumption. The clothes that are friendliest from an environmental perspective are the ones you already own, especially if they're machine-washable (and drip-dry).

My closet is filled, by this criteria, with environmentally friendly clothing. Mom-friendly clothing seems to overlap the environmental criteria, I find. Even though it's been years since I've been spit up upon with any sort of regularity, it didn't take very many instance of that sort of thing occurring on the shoulders of dry-clean only dresses before I stopped buying things that couldn't be washed; the single dry-clean item currently in my closet is a skirt I bought a few years ago to wear to a wedding. It's quite pretty, and it's possible to wear a skirt more than once without cleaning it, which is why I still own it. All the other dry-clean fabrics I used to wear have long since been donated to charitable institutions or have died natural deaths; it's just not practical for a homeschooling mom whose day can randomly involve clay, paint, or science experiments involving such ingredients and vinegar and baking soda or celery stalks and red food coloring, to own and wear dry-clean couture.

Still, the Times article is interesting, because if fashion designers are starting to strive to attract the sort of green they want from the sort of customers for whom "saving the environment" is almost as important as buying and owning the latest fashions, then eventually this new view of "green fashion" will trickle down to us ordinary folks.

And though the pricey designer green wearables will always be out of the reach of most of us mere mortals, imagine what shopping for mom-friendly clothing might be like, if the fashion industry really does go "green?"

Picture it, fellow moms. Stores with racks and racks of practical, washable clothing. Simple cuts to decrease the amount of energy needed to produce each soft natural-fiber garment; simple pieces that coordinate with lots of other simple pieces to cut down on the number of garments it's necessary to own, and to encourage thoughtful and sustainable consumption. Rows of skirts that can be worn every day (because a simple skirt requires less manufacturing than slacks, which involve more complex piece-work, and such things as zippers or buttons). Dresses that look special and nice, and can be tossed in the wash along with your grungy sweats and the baby's sheets.

It's a dream, isn't it? But if green fashion consumers start making inroads into the fashion industry's product lines, anything is possible. It's even possible that the types of clothing many of us homeschooling moms wear on a near-daily basis could become the height of fashion!


Opal said...

We are green for sure and not because it is fashionable by any means!!!
I wonder if we would get a discount WHEN they decide to start adding green taxes, like what Australia is trying to do ($5,000 for every baby born because of the wear and tear on the environment).

But I also imagine that the designers will object.

MommaLlama said...

Thought provoking and funny! Nice work Red.

freddy said...

I may one day be fashionable? Oh, the horror!