100% Organic Cotton Fabrics
For home sewers, businesses, retailers, and anyone who gives a scrap!
Trudy (pictured on the right) and I traveled to DC to participate in the Women’s March on Washington on January 21st, 2017. Trudy is 84 years young and one of my best friends.
One of the hardest parts leading up to our trip, was trying to figure out what our sign(s) should read. After much debate and suggestions from friends, I opted for "Fear Less" and Trudy's side of the sign read "Speak Up".
Trudy's parents were Jewish immigrants. All of her mother's family were killed in the Holocaust. I think this influenced her choice of words and fuels her need to make sure we are acting thoughtfully and compassionately to those around the world who are suffering in other countries.
"Fear Less" has become my mantra for 2017. It feels like there is so much fear surrounding us that it is easy to slide into the depths of despair. Fear of what might happen blinds us to the beauty that IS happening here and now.
For me, the beauty of January 21st was that by all accounts it was the LARGEST WORLDWIDE protest in the history of the planet and to the best of my knowledge there was not one arrest. (If I am wrong about this, please fill me in.) To quote Trudy:
In an attempt to explain the tremendous success of the Women's Marches all over the country and the world, comments like "that's because women were in charge" don't really tell the whole story. In our view, the credit goes not only to women, but to the amazing number of men; the wonderful diversity of color, of ethnicity, of generations. In DC, where we were, considering that three times the expected numbers attended, it was more like a "shuffle" than a march; people packed so closely that it was rife for frustration. But unbelievably, not only were there no arrests; there were not even skirmishes, impatience or unkind words! It was a beautiful spectacle of creative hats and signage and compliments/chatting being exchanged.......it didn't matter if one could see the stage during the rally or even hear the speakers....the dynamic energy during the entire day was extraordinary!
It was an honor to be a part of peaceful history in the making.
I avoid talking politics. I don't watch the news. However, I am so perplexed about what is going on in Washington I can't keep quiet at the moment. I just don't understand it.
I keep trying to wrap my head around it. Your business is about to default on its loans. . . you decide to give all of your employees a paid vacation? I don't think even the worst business owner would decide to do that. [Debt ceiling limit reached + furloughs with back pay = nonsense.]
My friend Karl tells me they are trying to make a bigger point. I'm sorry the only point I see is that they have NO common sense. Seriously. Who does that? It is mind boggling that these are our "leaders". Ok, I'll jump off my soap box. I just had to get that off my chest. May sanity (and smart business/government decisions) prevail.
Did you know that Redwood trees drop 1/3 of their foliage every year? At my home/studio it is raining redwood leaves. I love this time of year. What is no longer useful has been identified and now when the wind blows just strong enough the leaves will be released and fall to the ground.
I feel totally in sync with the rhythm of the trees this year. I recently moved my office and found myself letting go of many things. Shedding the need to hold on and instead rejoicing in the release. I feel lighter. Clearing the way for the winter and turning my focus inward, preparing for the next growth spurt I know will happen come springtime.
Is letting go easy for you? For me it depends on many things but at the moment I am taking a lesson from my wise friends (the Redwood trees) around me and celebrating the Autumn Equinox. What are you ready to let go of?
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.
Back in 2004, I vividly remember waking up from a dream with this vision of what was wrong with our economy and how it could be fixed. The latest Occupy Wall Street Movement has this back on my mind. . .
I believed then (and still believe now) that what is wrong with our economy can be summed up in one word: GREED. Greed that exploits planet and people. The "Green Movement" has made strides on the planet side (albeit we still have a long way to go!) but the people part has, in my opinion, in this country, only gotten worse.
Case in point, check out this graph that shows that CEO pay is now 350 times the average worker's, up from 50 times from 1960-1985. 350x the AVERAGE worker! I wonder what the discrepancy is for the lowest paid worker? Here's another graph that proves the point. (The entire article and charts are worth looking at.)
Let's do the math. So... say I make $50,000/year that means the CEO is making over $17 MILLION dollars a year or... $47,945/day - 365 days of the year. Is there truly anyone who is worth SOOO much more than everyone else? I am NOT against paying heads of companies large salaries, I just think they should not do so at the expense of the employees that make the company run. I think we need limits on compensation and if our government doesn't have the will to make it happen, I think WE THE PEOPLE can make it happen. How? you ask.
My solution is a color coded rating system based solely on economic discrepancies between employees. The color code system would be Green, Yellow, Red. The symbol could be an infinity sign in the various colors and stages of completion and distortion (example above).
The GREED ALERT break down:
Green closed infinity sign: Highest paid employee makes no more than 10x the lowest paid full time employee (including bonus and incentives).
Yellow almost closed infinity sign: Highest paid employee makes no more than 100x the lowest paid full time employee (including bonus and incentives).
Red very distorted infinity sign: Highest paid employee makes more than 100x the lowest paid full time employee (including bonus and incentives).
These easily identifiable color coded symbols could be posted in store windows, web sites, on products, etc. as a selling point (unwritten message for Green: We care about our workers) and as a warning label on stores who fall in the RED zone. Obviously, the RED companies would view this as negative publicity would not want to post their color but if a company is publicly owned their compensation information is public. With some research we could have a website or app that would let you look up a company and find out their color code/Greed Alert rating.
We could target some of the worst companies with grassroots exposure. People all over the country could post about the RED companies on the same day on blogs, facebook, twitter, ya get the idea. With a target on a high profile company, I believe we could get quite a bit of media coverage of such an organized event. The cost would be minimal.
With enough use/education I envision people asking the places they shop -- "What color are you?" or "What's your GA (Greed Alert) rating?" The beautiful thing is that it speaks to the general public regardless of politics, race or religion... and has the potential for real change. Wouldn't you rather work for and support companies whose discrepancy in pay is not obscene? If it worked, we would see the gap close and wealth back in the hands of more than a handful of people. I think it could re-ignite our economy and country in a profound way. If you want to give your top guys a raise, great! You just need to give your bottom guys a raise too.
I believe this grassroots movement has the potential to change the business world as we know it. Years ago when this thought first hit me, I registered CloseTheLoop.org and also GreedAlert.org I would happily donate these to the right group willing to do the research and web design necessary to pull this off.
I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. Please forward this to anyone you know who could help bring the vision to reality -- if you think it is worthwhile. Ok, I'll hop off my soap box now.
My friend Nancy showed me this packaging today. As you may know by now, I am NOT a fan of single-use plastic packaging. In fact, it makes me a bit crazy but this one, this one. . . well, let's just take a look shall we. (If you can't tell from the picture it is a plastic container.) In big words: "84% Less Packaging". That sounds great, right? Well, let's take a closer look at the fine print, shall we . . .
"Than glass jar by weight". REALLY?! Plastic weights less than glass? Incredible. Or do they think we are incredibly stupid? If this isn't a prime example of "green-washing" I don't know what is.
It is my opinion that this advertising crosses the line set by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
Part 260 -- GUIDES FOR THE USE OF ENVIRONMENTAL MARKETING CLAIMS
(c) Overstatement of environmental attribute: An environmental marketing claim should not be presented in a manner that overstates the environmental attribute or benefit, expressly or by implication. Marketers should avoid implications of significant environmental benefits if the benefit is in fact negligible.
The FTC offers this example:
Example 1:A package is labeled, "50% more recycled content than before." The manufacturer increased the recycled content of its package from 2 percent recycled material to 3 percent recycled material. Although the claim is technically true, it is likely to convey the false impression that the advertiser has increased significantly the use of recycled material.
I think advertising that a plastic single-use packaging is 84% Less Packaging (by weight than glass) although I am sure technically true (duh!) qualifies as an overstatement. If you feel likewise (and inspired to do so), you can file a complaint with the FTC by visiting this web site or calling: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). It takes about 5 minutes.
Planters, as far as I am concerned you can plant this ad campaign where the sun don't shine. I'll take bulk (zero packaging) peanuts over this nonsense any day of the week. Shame on you.
When I launched Harmony Art Organic Design in January 2005, I was looking to create a business (really a job) for myself in my field (textile design) that I could feel good about. Reality was that in 2005 there were no fabric companies making organic cotton prints. Oh sure, there were a few pioneering companies like Patagonia and Green Babies that were making clothing using organic cotton printed fabrics but unless you were big enough to do your own production runs (1,000 + yards), you had no selection. This left small businesses and home sewers virtually without any organic fabric options beyond beige, oatmeal or granola. It also left this textile designer with next to no job opportunities beyond the toxic traditional ones.
In 2005, there were over 40 eco-textile standards to choose from. (Talk about confusing!) The OTA was writing their own Fiber Processing Standard and since then have worked collaboratively to develop the Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS. Just last month the USDA's NOP program acknowledged and ok'd the use of GOTS for textiles labelled as organic. (THIS IS BIG NEWS!)
What started as a quest for a job I could feel proud of, became a vision/mission to change the way textiles were produced. I wanted to help move the textile business from being one of THE MOST TOXIC industries to one of the most thoughtful. To that end, I would need many more companies to embrace organics!
Six and 1/2 years later... I am proud and honored and encouraged to report that indeed the textile industry has caught on! No longer alone, many independent organic fabric companies (Mod Green Pod, Oliveira Textiles, Cloud9, Daisy Janie, Birch Fabrics, etc) have started and with this spring's Quilt Market even the biggest names in quilting fabrics have joined the organic fabric team. Large fabric companies like Rowan, Clothworks, Robert Kaufman, and Michael Miller have released printed organics. Even the amazing and oh-so-popular and lovely Amy Butler has released an organic cotton collection. Quilt Market's latest trend report highlighted organic fabric's proliferation. Over the years, I have spoken directly or indirectly to just about every one of these companies and designers. I've watched it all and personally participated in much of it.
It is safe to say that organic fabric is no longer just shades of oatmeal and granola! Although still a small fraction of the conventional cotton being produced, organic fabrics are no longer fringe. They are a force (much bigger than me) to be reckoned with. It's been an honor and a privilege to be a part of this movement. It's been exciting and thrilling to watch it grow and expand. Thank you to each and every one of you who has understood, purchased, supported, encouraged, challenged and embraced this journey. Without a doubt it has been the people along the way that have made this movement happen. I am just one small part. I think collectively we have much to be proud of.
What do you think? Is the mission accomplished? Is it time for a new goal? I'd love to get your perspective either through this blog publicly or privately by phone or email. I look forward to your feedback.
With sincere gratitude,
You may have heard about the recent study that found lead residue in those reusable non-woven-polypropylene bags that are sold at grocery store check outs. In my own town they sell these "re-usable" bags for 99 cents. Seriously cheap.
Now, I am NOT a big fan of these petroleum based bags. They don't last all that long -- according to my friend Jane with regular use and washing (to avoid contamination) they start to deteriorate in less than 6 months. This is better than the single-use plastic bags which are used for an average of 12 minutes before being discarded. However, most non-woven-polypropylene bags are made in China - which means a big carbon footprint in transportation. Frankly, I am not surprised or shocked to hear there is lead being found in these bags.
BUT... when a study like this comes out and the message from their Senior Research Analyst J. Justin Wilson is: “Environmental activists are trying to have it both ways. They’ve spent decades campaigning against lead in paint, toys, and even packaging, but when it comes to their own sacred cow, they seem willing to ignore the issue.” Concluded Wilson: “In the end, retailers shouldn’t have been goaded into selling these bags in the first place. They were merely doing their best to respond to environmental activists’ demands.”
I BEG TO DIFFER! I do not and never have wanted to replace one short sighted idiotic solution with another equally stupid one especially when there is a MUCH better, easy solution!
A cotton fabric bag (preferable made out of reused material) will last MANY years, decompose at the end of its life, NOT contain lead, NOT pollute our land and water and can be fun and stylish. Don't replace a bad solution with another bad one, please.
Anytime I see a "study" that implies reusable bags are "bad" I get suspicious. This was NO exception. My first question is always, who funded this study. (The last one you may remember about the tainted bags was paid for by the plastic industry.) This one comes to us from the Center for Consumer Freedom. Well that sounds good, right? Wrong... it didn't take much diggin' to discover that this positive sounding group was actually, a non-profit American lobby group. A lobby group? For whom?
The Channel 7 expose: Lobbyists Hide Behind Non-Profit Fronts calls the CCF part of the "non-profit front groups to push their corporate messages".
"Berman set up the Center for Consumer Freedom and a number of other tax exempt educational organizations. And those educational non-profits all seem to support messages that dove tail nicely with the food beverage and tobacco industries that have hired Richard Berman."
I looked at the CCF's 2005 990 tax return (most recent one I could find) and found that their revenue was close to $3.5 million dollars with Richard Berman only being paid $18,000 for his services as executive director and president but $1.3 million being paid to Berman and Company for managing services (of which Richard Berman is the sole owner and president) and did I mention both share office space too. The bulk of the other monies appear to be spent on "educational advertisements, press releases, opinion editorials," etc. Some of the other website gems that CCF runs are: obesitymyths.com and fishscam.com just to name a couple. I think CCF should stand for Center for Confusing Facts.
Wilson from CCF says, “As an advocate for consumer choice I believe consumers should have the option of using lead-free plastic and paper bags when they’re bringing home their groceries.”
I say, "As an advocate for clean oceans and land I believe consumers should be smart enough to use lead-free, plastic-free, paper-free fabric bags when bringing home their groceries."
ok... I'll jump off my soap box now. Sheesh.
To end this long post on a positive note, "Yesterday, the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban single-use takeout bags." You can read the article in the local paper here. Three Cheers for Marin!
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.