Sincerely Seven: Week 39

I’ve really be struggling this week with the news and the country and all that jazz, so trying to share happy things that got me through this week.

can you imagine having a cat this cute?
  1. It’s been a week since her death and while Republican leadership has been quick to get over her death, RBG has been on my mind all week. I found this piece she wrote for the NYT in 2016 very comforting, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Advice for Living.
  2. GBBO is back! Very curious how they’re handling COVID with the new season but I’m so happy it’s back. My favorite bake this week was the pineapple upside cakes, a dessert we made a lot in my family growing up (though ours were from a box…). Here is Paul Hollywood’s recipe!
  3. Loved this more personal piece about Kamala Harris, it was encouraging to hear about where she was at 28 and that she loves cooking as a stress reliever! SAME.
  4. Is it ethical to bring a child into this dying world? I found this article to be a really interesting perspective on a question I hadn’t much thought of. I think I found it most interesting that it was important to consider that a child would more than likely take on the kind of life its parents lived, so the core idea is that it matters more how you’re reacting to climate change and altering your lifestyle to help to Earth. Which is something we ALL need to be doing.
  5. AD toured Hilary Duff’s LA home, and I LOVE her kitchen. Also love her decor style throughout the house, and honestly, just love her overall.
  6. Yay David Yay! Schitt’s Creek swept the Emmy’s last weekend and to say I was over the moon is an understatement. So happy for all the folks from the show who won; it was well deserved for bringing a show together focused on acceptance and love, which is something we all need to focus a bit more on.
  7. Any musical fans out there? I recently discovered the show, Hadestown and I am OBSESSED with the soundtrack. I would love to the see the show in person, but obviously not sure when that will happen. For now, I’ll just keep rewatching the cast’s Tiny Desk Concert. “Come Home With Me” makes my heart want to burst, tbh.

Happy week ahead!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Sincerely Seven: Week 37

Another week gone by, stuck inside, this time due to wildfires and unsafe air. We did go for a beach walk today even though we probably should have stayed inside, but lung damage be damned. I haven’t been in the best space mentally from all this staying inside so it was well worth it. I love California but it’s getting a bit tiresome, one thing after another and being forced to stay inside. We did try Persian food this weekend, which was really good and I finished another book (A Man Called Ove, love!). Still trying to see the positives…

Pumpkin Swirl Muffins (FALL)
  1. Like I mentioned (don’t know how you wouldn’t have heard), wildfires are raging in California, here are ways you can help. The most important way you can help is by voting come November for elected officials who care about climate change.
  2. 9/11 was this past week, which marked 19 years since a very tragic day in American History; however, the tragic events of 9/11 will forever overshadow how the event itself fueled Islamophobia in this country, making it hell for thousands of Muslim Americans for many years to come.
  3. Stuck with student loans? Same. Worried about whether you should be paying your loans (that may have had payments paused), or saving for a possible layoff or illness? Same! I found this guide interesting and somewhat helpful in navigating how to handle this strange time.
  4. Any Great British Baking fans out there? The show is returning at the end of the month in the UK, but it has not been reported when the US fan will get to see the season. I recently discovered Portrait Artist of the Year, where 9 artists compete by painting portraits of British celebs. I used to figure draw, so it’s mollifying me until GBBO returns (give me all the British television!!).
  5. It’s almost fall ya’ll (in this house, we start 9/1)! The best way to celebrate is with PUMPKIN and BAKING. Here’s my favorite muffin recipe from Sweet and Simple Kitchen. The swirls of Nutella are optional, but why wouldn’t you add it? See above.
  6. Speaking of fall, this foliage map of the country is my new favorite thing! I love being home in Pennsylvania and seeing the beautiful hues of trees on the mountains. I’m SO excited I’ll be home in October during prime foliage time!
  7. I spent some of the weekend watching Get Organized with The Home Edit and I’m obsessed. I spent the rest of the weekend on the Container Store’s website trying to order things to get my closet in order. Also, can we talk about how they got to see and hold ALL of Reese’s movie memorabilia, especially from Legally Blonde? DED.

Happy thoughts for you this week, loves!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Fashion’s Hazardous Footprint

Have you ever thought much about the process that goes into making your clothes? Or what happens to them once you’ve given them away? How about what both of those things are doing to the environment? The fashion industry is one of the biggest perpetrators of pollution and waste today. I personally work in sourcing and production so I have a front row seat in seeing how these things are hurting our world. For a long time, I was ignorant; however, as I’ve been learning, it’s getting harder and harder to look the other way. So where do you, as a consumer, start in understanding sustainable clothing?

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If you are curious, you’re not alone. Many consumers have started caring more about these things; in recent years, searching for the words ‘sustainable fashion’ has tripled online, but many people still remain largely uneducated about how important sustainable fashion is, in a world that is being destroyed by the current fashion industry. There are reasons why countries like China and India are some of the highest polluted nations in the world. Water and electrical waste, along with fashion’s large carbon footprint are the biggest reasons why sustainable fashion is a must if we ever want to save the planet.

Let’s take the shirt you’re wearing right now; it started as millions of fibers that were spun into yarns and those yarns were woven or knit into a material. That material, and in some case the yarns before the material, were dyed in chemicals and water that is often left untreated, being disposed of in local rivers which can create a toxic environment for locals and wildfire in major manufacturing areas. Some dye houses, especially in the world of denim (which use one of the highest amounts of water and dyes), are trying to implement utilizing filtration systems to recycle water that is being used within the dyeing process, but many dye houses still have work to do in making a more sustainable process. New filtration systems are not cheap and take up space, both using resources that could be put towards more machinery that would increase working capacity, lower garment lead times, and increase orders and profit overall.

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The other problem here is that once dyed, materials and garments often are put through multiple washes with softeners or treatments, which as you can guess, use gallons and gallons of water and chemicals, which again, often goes untreated. Some brands are now pushing recycled materials like poly spun yarns from recycled water bottles, which is a great step forward in the industry; however, once those recycled materials go through the normal dyeing and wash processes, how much are they really helping the environment?

The other thing is, think about the energy needed to be generated for all of the above to take place, coupled with the fact that most factories are powered largely by fossil fuels. Some materials can go through three or four washes, after being dyed, all of which needs to run on energy. Not even to mention that after the material is turned into a garment on sewing machines, the final garment can often get additional washes, before going into dryers and getting a final steam or ironing. All before you as the consumer wash and dry the garment dozens of times over.

The final piece of this puzzle is the fashion industry’s carbon footprint. So you have found a clothing company who uses recycled yarns, filters and recycles their dye water, and use natural dyes. But where are they manufacturing their garments? If being made in Asia, the brand has to ship their goods on a large shipping freight which can take upwards of 40 days to sail halfway around the world. That means right now, a very large ship is generating energy through petroleum and emitting harmful gases into the air, all while carrying the shirt you’re going to buy in a few weeks time.

In an ideal world, companies would look for materials that are of recycled yarns, dye houses that filter and recycle water, plus use natural, chemical-free dyes,  and produce with manufacturers that are local so that shipping distance is cut down. All goods would be packaged up in recyclable packaging. So what’s the problem? To me, all that sounds very expensive.

Many material mills and garment manufacturers have left the US in favor of cheaper labor in Asia, driven by consumer demand for cheap, fast fashion. Even if a brand wants to produce domestically in the US or in close Central America, many factories still order fabric and trims from Asia, which again, impacts the carbon footprint. It’s almost next to impossible to find a rare unicorn brand that can meet all these requirements and if you do find one, I bet they’re out of your price range so you are discouraged from purchasing.

These sustainable clothes are expensive because recycled materials, like water bottles, have to go through multiple treatment processes before becoming yarns. Filtration systems and new machinery are expensive so dye houses and factories need to invest, and as a result, charge higher prices to pay off and make money from that investment. Local labor within America is expensive compared to less developed countries where labor might be a small fraction of our $7.25/hour minimum wage.

Beyond production, consumers are not properly recycling their clothing which is increasing the problem. Companies like ThredUp and Poshmark are helping mass consumers in recycling old garments and some brands have pledged to in store recycling programs. Some others, like Adidas, have pledged to 100% be using recycled materials by 2024. As consumers, we can take time to research brands who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, with the understanding that no brand is going to be able to completely mass produce anything without some side effects.

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As consumers, we need to fall less under the spell of consumerism, taking responsibility and demanding more from the fashion industry. The one industry that might be the most malleable of all, due to the changing trends and seasons. Brands will care if their consumers care. I was once in a meeting where sustainable garments were being discussed within a major clothing brand, and it was said that, ‘the customer doesn’t seem to have sustainability as a priority, nor will they pay more for it, so why should we invest in a collection that is sustainable?’ Consumers need to steer the brands towards sustainability, in the same way we steered fashion companies towards providing for our demand of fast fashion. Again, it seems while with most issues with sustainability, we are the problem, but we can also be the solution.

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

 

Sources:

personal: 4+ years in apparel and home goods production internationally

Sustainable Fashion: Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Explained

C&A Foundation

Adidas Challenges Fashion Industry

Sustainable Fashion Demand Provides New Opportunities In Material Science And Chemistry

A Day For Change

Happy Earth Day, everyone! Such a different Earth day this year; it’s hard not be able to celebrate by planting trees or protesting climate change, so we should at least be taking the time to educate ourselves for when we’re allowed back into society and can help make some change in this world.

Since we’re all watching TV anyway, why not watch a documentary? I put together a list of  (mostly free) documentaries that discuss sustainability, climate change and the planet’s health. I watched An Inconvenient Sequel (2017) last night, and it was very enlightening to say the least. I plan on watching The True Cost tonight.

  1. The Biggest Little Farm (2018)– on hulu, with subscription
  2. An Inconvenient Sequel (2017)– free on Crackle
  3. The True Cost (2015)–  free on tubi
  4. Chasing Coral (2017)– on Netflix, with subscription
  5. A Plastic Ocean (2016)– on Netflix, with subscription
  6. Blackfish (2013)– on hulu, with subscription
  7. Forks Over Knives— on Netflix, with subscription
  8. Cowspiracy (2014)– on Netflix, with subscription

What are your plans for Earth Day? Have you seen any of the films on my list and would recommend?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann