Textile Truths: click image for larger version and link to downloadable pdf
June 27, 2011 Jen Madsen of Stitch Simple
emailed me this statement: ". . . we need, you know that 'dirty dozen'
list for organic produce? How about a list of most environmentally friendly arts and crafts supplies or home décor items?"I thought she was absolutely right! But how
to rate, rank, educate and not overwhelm people is no easy task. Fabrics are so much more complex than fruits and vegetables. As the idea progressed, I contacted Leigh Anne of Oecotextiles
. She has one of the most comprehensive and thorough blogs about textiles and the chemicals in them. She is my go-to for the chemistry and statistics so I asked if she would be willing to help. Thankfully, she agreed!The three of us (Jen, Leigh Anne, and myself) knew that there was SOOOO much information that one infographic was not going to do. Our goal then became to put together a series and it was decided that we would start with BABY since that seems to be the most common entry point for people when it comes to organic fibers. I took a stab at the graphic, I redid it about 20 times. It stalled and stammered. My dear friend Suz enlisted her graphic design friend Alison who took a shot at revamping my sad attempt. It helped but also lost the entire fabric focus. We knew we lost our audience. Alison did the work pro bono and I thank her deeply for helping move the project forward in April of 2012 and highlighting where we went astray (focus!).It stalled for months. I was sick of looking at it and frankly didn't know what to do. In September of 2012 I was contacted by Linsi of Spark Collaborative. We had a mutual friend Rachel Hulan who connected the dots.
I bit the bullet and hired Spark Collaborative to take a shot at it. I sent them various versions, thoughts, and challenges. The name was changed from Worst Things/First Things to Textile Truths (duh!) and the layout started to pull together. I sought
help from Suz again (she is an editing wizard with decades of experience!), my friend Madge
(a marketing maven and hiking tour leader extraordinaire), and a select few others (you know who you are!!). Changes: color changes, text changes, font changes, layout changes, pattern changes, alignment changes and more changes were made. Then I sent it to GOTS
to make sure they would approve of the logo usage. Whew. It got their blessing and now . . . drum roll please . . .
IT IS OUT IN THE WORLD at last. Will it fill the need we aimed to address? Will anyone read it and care? Will it go viral and ignite different purchasing behavior? Launch a helpful series? Help all organic fabric companies to be better appreciated for what they are doing? Will it crawl under a rock never to be seen? I don't know. Time will tell. I can tell you that I am very grateful to have it no longer haunting my to-do list! I also want to acknowledge all of the kind, thoughtful people who helped in this journey. I LOVE YOU and COULDN'T HAVE FINISHED THIS WITHOUT YOU!
I VERY MUCH welcome your feedback (too late for changes to this version) and if all goes as hoped (and prayed for) we will be releasing other versions for: Home, Fashion, Pets, etc.Please feel free to share this with anyone you think would be interested.Buckets full of hugs and gratitude to each of you. It is my gift to the organic fiber community and the world. I hope you like it.
Debra Lynn Dadd has published another book: TOXIC FREE: How to Protect Your Health and Home from the Chemicals That are Making You Sick.
Debra has been a consumer advocate on this subject since 1982. Her journey began in 1978 when she first found out that there were toxic chemicals in her own home making her sick. She has worked tirelessly for the last 30 years to understand and help educate others about the day to day decisions that impact our homes and health.To celebrate the launch of her latest book
she is conducting a 12 hour internet radio marathon
and has asked yours truly to be one of the guests. I am honored. YOU too can listen and call in with your questions this THURSDAY! The radio show will go from noon to midnight east coast time (or 9am - 9pm for us west coast peeps). I am scheduled for the show #6
at 10pm eastern time (7pm west coast).The show will be recorded and can be listened to later but I would LOVE to have some people listening live and calling in with their questions.
October was breast cancer awareness month. I know I am a few days late but wanted to pass on this information (recently posted on Grist
) about preventing breast cancer. To me, prevention makes the most sense. If there are known causes, by all means let's stop our exposure to those things! Ask Umbra's post identifies these things to avoid:
- No vinyl, that’s final!: Avoid it in shower curtains, notebooks, hot pants, etc. That "new" smell is phthalates, a hormone disruptor. Phthalates can be found in perfume, lotion, toys, and beyond. Check personal care products on the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database to ensure they’re phthalate-free.
- Triclosan in antibacterial soap, I say nope!: Concerns have been raised over the discovery of triclosan in breast milk and waterways. Avoid antibacterial soap and hand sanitizers with triclosan, a suspected hormone disruptor. Use plain soap and water instead.
- Stay away from Bisphenol-A (BPA)!: This endocrine disruptor can be found in canned food linings, on receipt paper, and in a variety of plastics.
- Beware of parabens: They are used as a preservative in many products and are also a hormone disruptor. To avoid using parabens and other questionable chemicals, look up products on the Skin Deep Database. Make sure to check the labels on cosmetic products such as cosmetics, hair dye, fragrance, shampoo, and sunscreen.
- Be a breath of fresh air: Improve your indoor air quality. Avoid conventional paints, off-gassing items, dioxins from dry cleaning, cleaning products with unlabeled ingredients. Use no VOC paint, try eco-friendlier wet cleaning and try making your own cleaning products with vinegar and baking soda instead.
For more information visit the full Ask Umbra
post on Grist.GIVEAWAY!!!!In honor of this important topic, I am giving away of 2 yards of solid pastel pink organic sateen OR 2 yards of Pink Moon 2nds (also organic cotton sateen) to 2 people who post on this entry about some way they are helping prevent breast cancer in their own lives or the lives of others.
They will be selected at random one week from today. I would love a cure, but in the meantime let's stop the nonsense and avoid these known causes.
So, my husband recently bought the Vera book
for me. I am a huge Vera fan and I must admit I sat down and read the entire book cover to cover in one sitting. I find it really inspirational to read about other textile women who had a vision and brought it to life. Few have done it as gracefully and beautifully as Vera Neumann.
One of the things that struck me as I read about her life and career was... get this...
"Vera distinguished herself as the first American designer to manufacture product in the People's Republic (of China) destined for U.S. sale."
So there it is -- printed textiles were the first U.S. sold product to be outsourced to China! I swear, the more I learn about textiles and textile designers the more I think we are the ones to watch if you want to know where things are headed.
Reminder - it was textiles that launched the industrial revolution. What will we lead the world into next? Stay tuned to find out.
Note: Photo is of a Vera napkin set I inherited from my maternal grandmother (Evelyn). I love them!
If you are like me, you try to avoid talking politics with most family and friends. However, from time to time you still receive emails of political nature. I have made it a habit of doing my own due diligence on all political emails to determine what is fact and what is fiction. There is a lot of decisive rhetoric these days and you really can't believe everything you read. In my vetting of these emails I have become a frequent visitor to a couple of very useful web sites. FactCheck.org
are two sites that do the heavy lifting (aka research) and let you know the truth behind the politics. Both sites I highly recommend. They are unbiased and focused on exposing the truth. I like that. I am especially fond of PolitiFact's truth-o-meter. If a pundit or politician is really lying they get a "pants on fire" rating. . . . sometimes you gotta laugh to keep from crying.
While hiking with my friend Karl recently he said, "It's never been easier to spread misinformation." I countered, "Yes, that's true, but it has also never been easier to get access to the truth."
Recently I read an article about bottled water sales. I have to say I got that warm feeling inside when I read bottled water sales were down for the 2nd year in a row. The use of plastic water bottles makes my head spin (like one-use plastic bags). Why solve a temporary problem (water to drink) by creating an even bigger problem (plastic pollution)?
Here's a paragraph from the press release
: Bottled water wholesale dollar sales first exceeded $6 billion in 2000. By 2007, they topped $11.5 billion. Category sales declined to $11.2 billion the following year and to less than $10.6 billion in 2009.
Just to be clear, I am not happy to see companies experiencing declines in revenue. What I hope this will mean is that they rethink their product line to be more sustainable both financially and environmentally. Times are tough, but I see it as a positive sign of the times.
Let's bring back tap water and the drinking fountain! Wanna join my crusade? Comment on this post with a pledge to avoid plastic water bottles and our oceans will thank you (and so will I).
Photo credit: E. Granath (age 8)
Do you ever have the experience of thinking about something and then suddenly being confronted with someone else thinking the exact same thing? That happened to me this weekend. I was contemplating the BP oil spill and the similarity between it and the continual flow of plastic debris into our oceans. Both are petroleum based. The BP spill is acute. It is visible. It is tragic.... and hopefully the problem is now no longer growing in magnitude (fingers crossed and prayers said). The 5 Gyres
of swirling plastic is a slow but growing issue. It's insidious. It's harder to see and sadly it only continues to grow with little public outrage and minimal governmental or corporate concern.
So after having this discussion with my husband, I happened to catch this weeks Living on Earth episode titled: The Other Oil Spill
. The episode is about reporting what the Researchers from the Sea Education Association (SEA) found on their month-long expedition into the plastic trash of the North Atlantic. The new is bad. Very bad. To quote Giora Proskurowski, an oceanographer with the SEA
"What we proposed to do was to go far east from Bermuda where we know that plastics exist in the ocean, and try to find the eastern boundary of this region of high concentration in the ocean. And, we were hoping to see diminishing plastic concentrations, but what we actually saw, and actually our very eastern-most surface tow, was where we found the highest concentrations of plastic that have ever been observed in any of the world's oceans."
They didn't just find higher concentrations, they found 26 million pieces of plastic per square kilometer which is 10x more than ever recorded before! Aye Caramba! As explained by Giora Proskurowski, " . . .we can be 2,500 miles from land and pull out 23,000 pieces of plastic and it is our habits of one-use consumer plastics that's doing this."
We must STOP solving a temporary convenience problem with a permanent, even larger and much more difficult problem. PLEASE. If you live in California, support AB 1998
. It is due to be voted on in August. Regardless of where you live, use a fabric bag, try to avoid single-use plastic (think metal water bottle and drinking fountains), and if you have a favorite product that uses plastic call, email or write and ask them to change their packaging. We have to take action and responsibility for this epic and growing situation.
NOTE: The SEA voyage mentioned in this post was the first federally-funded research expedition on plastics in the North Atlantic. (A small but hopeful sign.)
This picture was taken June 6th on Bowling Ball Beach. My husband and I were there to renew our wedding vows. At first I was tempted to walk by the plastic pieces, leave it -- not have it enter our romantic moment -- but alas it was impossible for me to ignore.
As you know by now, in addition to being passionate about organic cotton, I also can get pretty worked up about plastic grocery bags and plastic water bottles. I just KNOW they will one day be the icons of our short-sighted insanity.
So, last week when the news came on the radio: Reusable Grocery Bags Contaminated with bacteria
, my first thought was "I bet that study was funded by the plastic industry." So, I did a little digging... and sure enough... the study was brought to us by the American Chemistry Council. Just who and what is the American Chemistry Council? Well... in addition to their own home page
, they are the ones behind the oh-so-lovely Plastics Make it Possible
web site and also this gem: Stop the Bag Tax
I decided to read the entire report
. I like to know what the "science" is behind the "news". The timing of this release coupled with the impending vote on California AB 1998
is just too suspect to ignore.
What I learned:
They say that 80 of the 84 bags collected were woven polypropylene, but that seems highly unlikely. Most of those 99 cent at-the-counter "re-usable" bags are actually made of NON-woven polypropylene. I have emailed the authors to clarify. (I will report back what I hear...assuming I get a response. In the meantime, I am going to assume they meant non-woven polypropylene bags. To get such a fundamental piece of the study wrong was my first red flag.)
Don't get my husband started on how much he HATES this "eco" alternative (maybe I can get him to do a guest post for me on the topic). My problem is that non-woven polypropylene is still made from plastic.
People know cloth is washable. Is non-woven polypropylene washable? It doesn't feel like fabric and I completely agree with the study that BIG washing instructions should go in each of these sorts of bags. Non-woven polypropylene, although not single-use, still is made with fossil fuels and they don't last all that long. My friend Jane regularly washes hers and she found they last less than 6 months. Improvement, I guess... but my washed fabric bags have lasted YEARS and show no sign of needing replacement. Now THAT is a solution!
What the press left out was that "Attempts to isolate Salmonella and Listeria bacteria from the bags were not successful in this study, but this may only represent the limited number of samples that were collected."
Get this, the study actually tainted non-woven polypropylene bags with meat juice and put them in a trunk in the mid afternoon for 2 hours to see if bacteria grew. BIG surprise...HELLO! It did! My take away - don't eat meat.... and if you do, don't be stupid about it. Would you leave meat in your trunk for 2 hours? If meat juice spills, clean it up!
The other tidbit left out of the "news" story was that the report showed that "Hand or machine washing was found to reduce the bacteria in bags by >99.9%." Funny that the "news" was about fear and contamination rather than oh say, "Washing your reusable bags can keep you and your planet healthy" - oh, you're right, that probably won't sell as many papers. Fear sure is sexy. I have to admit that I resent the fact that this important statistic from the report which is featured both in the summary and the conclusion of the full report was missing entirely from the University of Arizona's own press release. Hummm... I am not someone who leans towards conspiracy theories but really?!
Lately there has been some interesting reports that if you haven't heard about already, I want to bring to your attention:
1. ADHD linked to pesticide exposure
- yep, another example of short term problem (bugs on our plants) creating an even bigger, more complicated and widespread problem. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers led by Maryse Bouchard, a researcher in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health at the University of Montreal, analyzed the levels of pesticide metabolites in the urine of 1,139 children and found children with above-average levels had roughly twice the odds of being diagnosed with ADHD. By eating only organic fruits and vegetables you can reduce your exposure to these toxins. The abstract of the paper published in the journal Pediatrics is accessible online.
2. Genetically modified cotton stops one bug but fosters another
- yep... you guessed it. Our GMO cotton seeds have yet again created another problem to worry about. In this LA Times article the focus is on China. Although Bt cotton (genetically engineered) has reduced bollworms from the fields it has created a new pest called mirid bugs. Researches from Cornell University first noticed the problem in 2004 "when they surveyed 481 farmers in five Chinese provinces. They suspected something was amiss when they discovered that Bt cotton farmers were using more pesticides than farmers planting conventional cotton." Does anyone else think this is insanity?
3. Don't forget last week The President’s Cancer Panel Report: “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” was submitted to President Obama. What was the advice of this report by Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston? You guessed it - choose food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers , antibiotics, and growth hormones to help decrease exposure to environmental chemicals that can increase risk of contracting cancer. Organic products avoid the use of these chemicals. If you want to read the entire 240 page report you can down load it here.
Do you need any more reasons to support organic agriculture? I don't. Our CSA
starts this Friday. I can't wait to see and taste what local, organic treats await! Yes, organic is more expensive in the short term but when you factor in ADHD, more pests and potentially cancer, I think the cost is actually very affordable!
Note this is a picture of a local invasive weed NOT the pigweed mentioned in the NY Times article.
Cracks are beginning to show in Monsanto's GMO (genetically modified organism) armor. This week's article in the New York Times
paints a grim picture for cotton, soy bean and corn farmers who have embraced Monsanto's RoundUp Ready seeds. Just like germs that have become resistant to antibiotics, the use of GMO seeds is creating super weeds. To quote the article:
“The biotech industry is taking us into a more pesticide-dependent agriculture when they’ve always promised, and we need to be going in, the opposite direction,” said Bill Freese, a science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety in Washington.
When will we figure out that the quick fix is often followed by a serious of even more difficult problems?
Another sign that the balance is beginning to shift happened today when The President’s Cancer Panel Report was submitted. As reported by The Organic Trade Association
, “Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications,” according to the report, “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now,” submitted to President Obama by Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., an oncologist and professor of surgery at Howard University, and Dr. Margaret L. Kripke, an immunologist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
In a letter to President Obama, the panel stated “The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”
If you want to read the entire report, you can download it here.