Spring, its finally here!
So, there was one week of intense sunshine and then an incredible transformation occurred. Trees that had absolutely no leaves on them, suddenly had bright greens and flowers emerged at the end of this fateful week. The gardens, parks and streets were lined almost spontaneously with vibrant earthy colours, buzzing with life and freshness.
As a great fan of colour, I look forward to this time of year; to blossoming flowers, warm temperatures and nature's
greening energy. However, this year's spring was rather delayed and somewhat confusing. By the end of February, it was still bitterly cold with loads of rain, windstorms and, in some parts of Europe, snow! No doubt, the frequent changes in yearly weather patterns is due to climate change, driven in no small part by the tons of greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere.
Nature, The Best Coach
When it finally became brighter, warmed by the emerging patterns of varieties of flowers, blue skies and trees bearing 'miraculously' green leaves, I stood in awe. You could literally hear collective voices say, simultaneously, with relief .....'Aahhhhh, the sun'!
I went for a jog along my usual route one morning and found my feet under a splash of colours which beautifully ornamented a luscious carpet of grass --- colours that barely existed the week before.
I wondered just how it could be. How did it happen? I then realized that nature knows how to perfectly wait for the right conditions and combinations and to seize the opportunity to burst into its joyous brilliance. While most of us moaned and groaned about the bitter cold and darkness of winter, nature was patient in silence and proactive under cover, using what was available until the moment was presented to it --- not wasting but using it to its maximum potential.
I learnt an important lesson --- the ability of nature to take what it's given, patiently, staying true to itself and purpose, no matter the timing and humans' unfortunate exploitation. And nature taught me this freely :) The words of Todd Henry in Die Empty about relentlessly focusing on and contributing to what one truly believes, then made perfect sense. This may not be the road most travelled but it certainly defines a path of transition required to create great work.
Slow is Best
Another important lesson learnt, from observing the transformation towards spring this year, is the long, gradual, somewhat painful and slow initial process. While I am accustomed to a daily fast-paced buzz of activities, nature reminds me to calmly take time. Long lasting change should not be spontaneous but allowed to mature and ripen to colourful fruition. Nature takes its time to bring out its best.
Time to Transit
Regrettably, most of the clothes we wear daily are made of synthetic materials, with polyester being the predominant form. Synthetic materials have negative environmental effects during production, use and even after they have been discarded. They are often manufactured by fast-aggressive processes from non-renewable and non-biodegrable sources.
Furthermore, many of the clothes purchased from popular retail outlets are coloured using chemicals such as phthalates, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), nonylphenol, and heavy metals like cadmium. These chemicals are hazardous and could cause toxic pollution, harming those who make the fabrics, those who wear them as well as the planet.
Scientists have found lots of microplastic particles in the sea, which are believed to come from frequent washing of clothes containing these fossil-based materials. This leads to increased marine pollution and the eventual death of many sea-borne lives.
The true cost of what we wear is, unfortunately, not reflected on price tags and that is why we need to rethink our shopping style and make the transition towards a sustainable one. Sure, take your time but get moving!
Naturally dyed and traditionally woven fabrics on the other hand are made using sustainable and renewable resources. Intricate and elaborate colourful patterns are created by talented artisans using natural dyes which have significantly less impact on the environment. These dyes are not toxic and are also biodegradable.
The naturally dyed fabrics are commonly referred to as Adire and Tye & dye while the handwoven fabrics are called Aso-Oke in West Africa.
The indigenous craft of natural dyeing is a long, laborious process and generally takes a minimum of 15 days. The dyes are made using the traditional 'Yoruba' dyeing process, which is considered to be environmentally friendly as it uses less water compared to mass produced printed fabrics. Natural biodegradable materials, such as palm kenel, banana peels and indigenous indigofera (Elu) tree leaves are used to make the natural dyes, which are readily available in abundance in West Africa. All these are good for mother nature as they come from nature itself.
Fusing Slowly towards Zero Waste
Living sustainably requires effort, which may very well seem daunting initially with no significant impact. However, gradual and intentional small steps would eventually transform short-term unconscious 'quick' habits into slow conscientiously chosen actions, especially when applied by 7 Billion people. It is called the power of collective impact!
By default, we are programmed to consume the most convenient and, what we may consider cheapest option available. However, as you may have already figured out, this approach does not necessarily mean the best option. A shift in mindset is required, in order, to collectively stop the waste and reverse our impact on our planet --- the only one we have.
This calls for some CREATIVITY.
Yes, some wholesome, down to earth and I even dare say, easie-peasy creativity would enable us gradually transit from the current commonly practised fast-fashion to a more sustainable and clean one. Being intentionally creative, with what we choose to wear daily, would enable us to truly Reinvent our style.
You know you are in the right direction of transitioning when you:
1. Make what you have last by repairing and thus reduce waste
2. Treat waste as something to be recycled by repurposing and
3. Shop Conscientiously for real needs to reduce your impact
4. Share this with someone else because it makes sense!
UnikBlends enables you to achieve this transition. We offer repair and repurposing services as well as unique outfits and accessories, handmade from sustainably-sourced fabrics through our online shop.
Still not sure if to start or where to start your sustainability journey? Just follow us or let's meet up at our next event in The Hague.