My environmental conumdrum

It’s kind of a given, that if you care about enviromental issues, you’d also be conscious of other, closely related issues, like animal rights. And while the use of real fur is now unneccessary (I have a Canada Goose coat, and it has real coyote fur which I dont care for, but nothing beats Canada Goose in Finnish winters. And I buy it thrifted, so no new coyote was shaved for my coat), there is yet to be a commercially available alternative to real leather. The only ‘fake leather’ we have right now is plastic, and it also breaks down really fast, compares to real leather. So in fact, while trying to avoid real leather, you’d still be consuming and trashing plastics at a much faster rate.

These days, fast fashion is getting a lot of (deserved) heat for being unsustainable. I get it, the majority of synthetic fibers are plastic, and fashion by itself is a luxury. Unlike food, we can completely survive without 7749 dresses and jeans. And then there is all the criticism against fast fashion brands for exploiting foreign labour, which, again, is at least partly true. ‘Fast fashion brands outsourced production to poor countries’ is a common argument against their consumption, which to me, as someone coming from a country with a booming offshore textile industry, sounds privileged and protectionist. From what I know, the workers are paid a decent enough wage, it’s the free market after all. The wage only seems low to privileged liberal girls in the West, due to currency exchange (talking about wages, I have some major opinions about the amount we’e paying expats and ‘native’ english teachers, but that’s a topic for another day). Textile production outsourcing significantly drove the development of our national textile & production industry, so am I really in the position to turn my nose up at that? Also, there certainly is an air of white superiority around fashion production. If the workers are French or Italian, it’s couture fashion, it’s ‘artisanal’. Chinese or Bangladeshi, it’s called a sweatshop.

I’m currently making my own clothes, trying not to buy new. I try to avoid plastics where I can – I prefer natural fibers like cotton and linen (they’re also much more pleasant to work with, so win-win). However, as always, the use of plastic is still unavoidable – interfacing for one. It’s impossible to make blazers without interfacing – trust me, I tried. It was NOT good. Modern interfacing, however, is basically just a layer of plastic.

And then there is the issue with convenience. I went as far as trying out fabric sanitary pads, and to be fair the using experience was not even that bad. But washing them was a bitch, and after a while you really have to ask yourself, why are you going backward when humanity is going forward? Did my ancestors defeat colonizers, only for me to go back to using the same sanitary pads female freedom fighters were wearing while marching through Ho Chi Minh trail?

The no waste lifestyle isnt perfect, not for everyone, and for me personally is not very sustainable. It’s definitely on the extreme side of environmental activitism. Think about this: While trying to avoid one time use plastics, you switch to reusables. But by using reusables, you’re taking up more resources – water and electricity for washing, for example. And electricity production is still a huge cause of environmental pollution – coal fired power plants causing fine dust for example. Hydro dams put nearby communities at risk of flooding. In fact, the safest energy option is nuclear, but look at Chernobyl and Fukushima. It’s a conundrum, that the only thing we can do is weigh the options and try to do our best. Oh, and recycle.