Fast fashion was once known for its fast profits, now it has the earned reputation of being fast in environmental and human destruction. With almost the entire fashion industry geared towards constant consumption, what’s an ethically minded person to do?
Thankfully Orsola de Castro has some advice for us. She’s a fashion designer who’s embraced ethical fashion and has made a great career around making and keeping good clothes. She co-founded Fashion Revolution and worked to expose the dangerous behaviour the fashion world is a part of by providing alternatives. One easy and cost-saving alternative is to just keep your clothes.
“Some people love rescuing pets. I started off rescuing clothes – and have never stopped,” she says. Her design process was initially creative, not ethically driven. A eureka moment came while she was “climbing mountains of rubbish in a warehouse” to source holey jumpers. “I thought: OK, I am not just designing – I am recuperating,” she says. “There is a purpose. It is not just aesthetic, it is also profoundly moral in many ways.”
Hide your clothes
“I have a game I play with myself. I hide things from myself for a long time. I put them in a bag and put it under the bed,” says De Castro. “I hide things that are not right for me, whether that’s because your body changes, your mind changes or trends change.” She says that, when she opens them, after about five years, she often loves them “beyond description”: “Two years ago, I rediscovered a skirt – I could never remember hiding it in the first place. Now I wear it incessantly.”
Swinkels Family Brewers in the Netherlands recently adopted a new way to heat their brewing process: melted iron. And it’s arguably sustainable. It’s not as weird as it sounds.
Essentially iron dust is set alight, which burns in a contained system and produces heat (which is used to hear water in the brewery). Once burnt, the iron basically becomes rust, which then can be turned back into usable iron using electricity. If electricity is sustainably produced then the whole system is carbon neutral.
If burning metal powder as fuel sounds strange, the next part of the process will be even more surprising. That rust can be regenerated straight back into iron powder with the application of electricity, and if you do this using solar, wind or other zero-carbon power generation systems, you end up with a totally carbon-free cycle. The iron acts as a kind of clean battery for combustion processes, charging up via one of a number of means including electrolysis, and discharging in flames and heat.
As a burnable clean energy storage medium, iron powder’s advantages include the fact that it’s cheap and abundant, the fact that it’s easy to transport and has a good energy density, its high burning temperature of up to 1,800 °C (3,272 °F), and the fact that (unlike hydrogen, for example) it doesn’t need to be cryogenically cooled, or lose any energy during long periods of storage.
A new UK-based shoe company, Allbirds, wants you to know it cares about your carbon footprint. The clothing industry alone is estimated to contribute 4% of the global greenhouse gas emissions per year, meaning the industry has a lot of room for more efficient and sustainable practices. Allbirds was founded with the goal of making sustainable shoes and to inspire the entire clothing and fashion industry to be more ecologically sustainable.
Of course, the best thing you do when it comes to fashion is to not buy new clothes and repair the ones you already one.
Allbirds’ environmental goal is to eliminate carbon emissions from its products, from the raw materials it uses to the CO2 produced by shoes as they decompose in landfill sites. Its approach is to measure its emissions, reduce its environmental impact by including recycled or natural fabrics, and then offset anything that remains.
Measuring emissions is complex because there are several processes involved in producing goods, but the company estimates the carbon footprint of an average Allbirds product is 7.6 kg CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent emissions). That equates to putting five loads of laundry through a dryer, it has calculated, and compares to 12.5 kg CO2e for the average standard sneaker, pera methodused by Allbirds based in part on anMIT studythat looked at how to reduce emissions in footwear production.
Running away to join the circus is dream many kids have. In Cambodia joining the circus can be the best thing a kid can do, and they don’t need to run away to join the fun. Phare Ponleu Selpak is the circus program, after similar in style to Cirque du Soleil, for youth and functions in two Cambodian cities, Battambang and Siem Reap. What makes this Cambodian approach unique is the attachment to education beyond the circus. Youth who participate in the program get a full education alongside their circus training.
I’ve been to their performance at their school in Battambang, and trust me, it’s really really impressive!
“Cambodian youth are transforming their lives through art, breaking the cycle of poverty,” says Khuon Chanreaksmey. “They are discovering their own talents and realising that with hard work and opportunity anything in life is possible. The salaries they earn performing in the circus help support themselves and their families. Today’s artists are paving the way for the younger generations.”
Phare has fired imaginations around the world on its overseas tours. “Phare is amazing – its performers are so talented, especially since most of them are kids coming from the street, and obviously there’s a lot of hard work and creativity behind the scenes,” says Ravindra Ngo, chairman of the Hong Kong-based Cambodian Society, a non-profit organisation that promotes the country’s art and culture.
Feeling lonely and not getting out due to the pandemic? Head over to the virtual virus cafe where you can connect with other nice people on the internet and chat for a little bit. The creator clearly wants people to connect in an impromptu but meaningful way while we are all physically distant from one another. Here’s what the creator says about their creation:
Hey folks! I built Virus Cafe to help you make a friend in 2 minutes! My goal is to help people stuck indoors because of COVID-19 (or police curfews) to make meaningful connections with strangers.
Here’s how it works:
1. You are matched with a random partner for a video chat
2. You’re given a deep question to discuss. You have 2 minutes!
3. The only rule is: no small talk!
Small talk is the worst and I’m on a mission to eradicate it. I’ve expertly crafted over 200 questions designed to stimulate good conversation and skip past the boring introductions.
Here are a few samples:
– When in your life have you been the happiest?
– What would you be willing to die for?
– What is the biggest lie you’ve told without getting caught?
– What is a belief you had as a child that you no longer have?
– What human emotion do you fear the most?
– If a family member murdered someone, would you report them to the police?
– What absolutely excites you right now?
I hope you use Virus Cafe to meet a new friend and make a deep connection today.