22 weeks today
Storq Maternity pencil skirt (size 3) | gift from Storq
Hatch Long sleeve shirt | gift from a reader!! Link goes to new, similar version
Robert Clergerie Acajou oxfords
UGH. Don’t listen to me, because clearly I’m buying ALL the stuff lately, but I know intellectually that the best thing I can do individually to make a difference with regard to fashion waste, waste in general, climate change, etc., is just to BUY LESS. Buy less, or nothing at all, and when I buy, buy the highest quality I can afford (something that can be worn, then passed on), or secondhand.
I wrote about this several years ago – that living a more sustainable, eco-friendly life doesn’t require buying specific designers or only organic cotton, or buying ANYTHING AT ALL. What we really need to do is take care of what we have, and avoid buying what we don’t need. Way to practice what I preach, huh?
I’m not trying to be hard on myself, just realistic – and hold myself accountable. I try very hard to avoid buying new, and I do buy a LOT less than I used to, with a greater proportion of my wardrobe secondhand, but sometimes I just can’t resist the shoes. *facepalm*
Anyway, see below some reading material about why that reusable cotton tote may not be so much better than plastic grocery bags, and why organic cotton isn’t necessarily better than conventional. At the end of the day though, it seems like overconsumption in general, more than WHAT we’re consuming, has contributed more to the sad state of our environment/climate than we care to admit. We cannot consume our way out of it.
But speaking of buying less, this whole maternity clothing adventure has been really tricky to navigate; I thought I could get away with wearing regular clothes for longer than I have been able to. This skirt from Storq, for example, is similar to a ruched James Perse skirt I have, but this one is much more comfortable because it’s actually meant to fit a growing belly while staying slim everywhere else. My JP skirt doesn’t stretch enough to be as comfortable, and all I want now is at least to be comfortable in my clothes.
It’s different for everyone, and you really have to just go with what is comfortable and affordable for you, but I am REALLY REALLY appreciating the maternity pieces I have now. I don’t know how people use the “rubber band trick” for jeans for very long – I couldn’t even do it in the first trimester.
As I round into my third trimester next month I’ll write more about maternity clothing and why I love it, but in the meantime, if you’re pregnant and debating whether or not to buy a pair of maternity jeans, DO IT.
That cotton tote is worse for the environment than that plastic bag. WUT. I read the article, saw the research, and I will still refuse a plastic bag anywhere I go. I think that’s beside the point. The greater takeaway is again, that banning plastic bags, buying more reusable cotton totes, etc., isn’t going to solve the plastic problem. All of us being more mindful will definitely help – aware of how we reuse the bags we do receive, and then discarding them appropriatly when we’re finished with them.
Also, I didn’t take a deep dive into all the sources/statistics for the article, so take that for what it’s worth. Yes, if every person is buying a NEW cotton tote for every plastic bag they would have received, then absolutely the environmental impact of cotton totes seems high. If a person is using a cotton tote they got at a conference 15 years ago and have already used a thousand times to avoid taking a plastic sack, then the impact is less (they’d still have to use it 6,100 more times to have the same environmental impact according to the article – but again, is that for a newly purchased cotton tote or an old one?). It just doesn’t seem right to conclude that a plastic bag, reused once as a bin liner, has a lighter environmental footprint than a cotton tote, used many times.
Organic cotton might be worse than conventional cotton. I need to see more on this, and I think there are a lot of assumptions here – about yield and impact – but yes, I know that cotton in general requires a lot of water to grow, and is ultimately not the most eco-friendly fiber (linen and/or hemp is much better – and even alpaca or non-mulesed wool might be superior in terms of environmental impact), organic or not. Is organic cotton just greenwashing? Like bamboo was/is ten years ago?
There are so many conflicting articles about what’s better or what’s worse, what we should do, what’s not worth it, about individual action, etc., etc. it can get overwhelming to figure out what to do. I’m going to stick with doing what I’m doing, which is trying to make the best choices I can given the information I have at the moment. No one is perfect, and LESS is better.
I’m looking forward to a quiet weekend, I don’t have anything planned. I did start hand quilting the square quilt I made last summer, thinking it will be great for the baby when he arrives, so I’ll try and work on that some. Otherwise, I’m fine with doing nothing. Nothing at all.
How was your week? What are you doing this weekend?
Earlier this week my sis-in-law posted this interesting article about, basically, the worse things we’ve done for the Earth is try to take care of it: The belief that “environmentally friendly” behavior can compensate for an unsustainable one can lead people to harm environment although they try to do good, suggests a study published in Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00348/full?utm_source=ad&utm_medium=fb&utm_campaign=ba_sci_fpsyg
This weekend – sewing slipcovers & pillow covers for some patio cushions – the fabric came on Wednesday. Just baked some blueberry crumble bars for husband to take to his r/c flying field tomorrow. Starting to sort through seasonal clothing more seriously now, as we hit 80 twice last week….(I mean, it was still 32 when I woke up, so….)
I ADORE this outfit on you. The striped shirt, knit tube skirt, even the funky oxfords that are way outside my comfort zone – looks so well put together, interesting – and very you. The you of right now 🙂
Grechen Reiter says
thank you kelly 🙂
i am so in love with the shoes. they make me so happy. i’m already happy, but you know what i mean…
oh! i’m switching out my clothes now too – washing all my sweaters and putting them away, finally. it’s still cool in the mornings, but it gets HOT later in the day! yay!!!
and can’t wait to read that article, thank you for sharing it!
Sadly, I think most people over consume. We humans are very adept at justifying our wants! Couple that with a culture that views possessions as indicators of success and wealth, gift giving as a sign of affection and love, etc…and it’s made a perfect storm for environmental destruction. I’m not sure the “ethical/sustainable” blog community/instagram etc. has done us any favors either, as pushing the purchasing of something under the guise of ethical manufacturing just creates a loophole for consuming more without regard to the fact that it is still consumption. Who cares if an Everlane cashmere sweater was produced in an ethical factory? What about Mongolia and the environmental degradation that happens as a result? I think it will require a paradigm shift in how we live and think to really make any meaningful change…and I just don’t see that happening.
As for the cotton article…what about the health of the farmers/crop workers? The list of cancers associated with pesticide use is extensive. There’s a human cost as well as the environmental cost.
It’s all rather overwhelming. I try to do my small part, but I know, on a deeper level, that I have more than I really ‘need’…because the list of needs to survive is actually quite small compared to the abundance we all enjoy.
Anyway…cleaning and reading this weekend and enjoying the spring weather!
Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 says
Love the top so much! You look just great. Happy!
Almost all of my cotton totes are in regular use. One holds the kids’ library books, another some knitting, and a third my choir music. The rest, together with some reusable plastic bags (the woven/Tyvek-y kind – likely PET bags according to the article) are in weekly use when I grocery shop, whether or not I use all of them in any one go. I love canvas bags. They are also great for sorting kid and/or pet stuff during long car trips for easy finding and access. I can’t imagine the big cotton bags I’ve had for more than a decade are worse than getting twenty plastic, disposable grocery bags. I reuse the ones I do get for cat litter (another issue/another discussion) and small trash pail liners (and don’t replace until needed). At least that way they are used at least two times.
7,000+ times, though? really?
Grechen Reiter says
yeah, 7000 times is SO MANY TIMES!!! seems almost made up, really. i dunno…
i read somewhere, not sure where, that sales of plastic garbage bags go up by a lot whenever a city institutes a plastic bag ban. makes sense, because those plastic grocery bags are perfect for bathroom garbage cans…i used to use them for all sorts of things. but now i just find ways to do without them, generally. my husband will sometimes take a target bag or whatever but he uses those over and over again for traveling, etc.
Grechen Reiter says
i agree about overconsumption – i am absolutely guilty of that, and at justifying my wants LOL. i think it’s mostly because it’s so EASY to do, for most of us.
fashion/style blogs in general – mine included – are loopholes for the blogger to consume more i think. I wouldn’t go as far as to say “without regard” to the fact that it’s still consumption though – I am well aware haha, sadly, I just choose to ignore it sometimes, and other times, i justify it even further since I have a built-in resale outlet. I probably wouldn’t consume as much if I didn’t have this blog. storq wouldn’t have sent me pieces to review, and i wouldn’t have credit at shopbop to spend without their support. But this is my “job” and i’ve tried to balance it the best i know how.
i stopped working with everlane when i realized i was doing exactly that – taking/buying items to review, and working with them because they are “more ethical”, adding more and more things i didn’t need to my wardrobe. it still adds up. consumption is consumption. and anyway, everlane seems to be to be quickly becoming the “fast” fashion brand of ethical fashion bloggers/influencers, which i find annoying and frustrating. also their clothes don’t fit very well IMO.
with regard to organic cotton and farmers that is a good point, but i think the “study” took into account pesticide use, etc., when considering the total environmental impact of organic vs. conventional. but they would have had to stick with what can be specifically measured and considered a direct result i’m guessing. not that we don’t know that exposure to those chemicals can cause cancer, etc. (ROUNDUP!!!), but it’s only starting to be “proven” from what I understand.
for me the answer is for all conventional crops to move towards organic…
Love this whole outfit. The top reminds me of an EF top I got rid of and wish I still had. You look very glowy by the way!
The cotton bag conundrum…this is exactly why the conversation around better for the earth needs to be about doing better and not about being perfect. I once attended a TedX conference where Graham Hill spoke (yes, the treehugger convertible small space experiment Hill – that one) and he spoke about meat consumption. Assuming one did not want to become a vegetarian or vegan for other reasons, he shared some info how merely reducing one’s consumption can have a huge environmental impact.
Totally agree about the buying less which is why I don’t speak a lot about my preference for small batch, natural dyed and sewn in the US dresses and my disdain for fast fashion to family/friends/co-workers. If they inquire (which some do) because they like my wardrobe I’ll share with them some of the lines I enjoy and some of the reasons why. But I do shop quite a bit still and any co-worker can easily see that I do so it would seem a bit not self aware to be preachy about it. By the way I don’t think blogging about it is preachy…it is the purpose of many blogs to share with the readers reviews, finds etc and I appreciate that content very much.
Oops, I must not have been very clear…I wasn’t actually saying that blogging created a loophole for you or any other blogger/instagrammed, etc… to consume more (though I guess it does allow for that if one chooses …), what I meant is that the platforms available (that reach a large audience) are marketing tools (intended or not) and the shiny, new thing gets people’s attention, and said thing is “ethical” and click, the person on the other end has made a purchase without really considering consumption (especially when there is some kind of discount code available). Obviously this doesn’t apply to everybody! But I guess it’s not lost on me the number of people who have turned over their old wardrobes for a ‘sustainable/ethical’ one. Which plays into your point about Everlane becoming the fast fashion of the ethical world….they sell stuff out…people are still consuming at the same high rate and Everlane plays into that with constant new releases and new color ways!
“I’m not trying to be hard on myself, just realistic – and hold myself accountable.”
– said smart Grechen
Remembering you said this is exactly how you go into life and motherhood….
I was sitting with a 92 year old acquaintance today and we were talking about how life passes by in the blink of an eye. I told her my “babies” will be 21 and 18 and it seemed like it happened overnight. I couldn’t help but tearing up!!! Am I a perfect Mom? Absolutely not but imperfectness and impermanence are both what make us real and effective.
I can’t believe you are at your last trimester; it happened in a blink of an eye!
Grechen Reiter says
i didn’t think you were being accusatory, i just think it’s true, in a way. yes, reviewing items, etc., is our “job” as bloggers, but if you’re not careful, it can get out of control. it was for me, which was why i cut ties with everlane, at least in terms of receiving items directly to review.
Grechen Reiter says
haha. i can be smart sometimes 😉
i’ll be in my third trimester in may – due date is 8/9. so not quite there, just halfway LOL
It’s my birthday this weekend and I am planning to sew myself a nursing dress. (Planning to. I am 34 weeks pregnant so I might just…stare at the fabric and imagine what it would look like in dress shape.) I’ve tried to slow my consumption by learning how to make my own clothes, but it’s hard to resist stockpiling fabric now. I agree that the STOP BUYING really is the main thing.
(I get free cotton tote bags a lot, and use them all the time. Plastic bags may not have to get used 7000 times, but they are so *annoying* to have around the house. Isn’t avoiding that annoyance worth something?! please?)
What a fantastic group of readers you have, if I do say so myself. Haha! ;-). The outfit is adorable, pregnant or not. I can see that skirt working with SO many of your other pieces. And that’s what it’s all about.
I get so overwhelmed by all of the conflicting info out there that sometimes I just want to scream. I think you’re right: It’s about doing better and consuming less. When I think about it, I’ve never purchased any of our shopping bag totes – they’ve all been freebie “GWP’s.” I’ll bet that’s true for a lot of us.
No plans this weekend. Just saw “The Mustang” with my husband and it was really good. With both of us having worked with inmate populations – him at a federal prison and me with juveniles – we came away with strong feelings about the failures of our prison system to rehabilitate before pushing ex-cons back out into society. But that’s not what the movie was really about. Maybe I’ll read. Any suggestions, smart fellow readers?
Yes to everything you said, Debi. And I’m the first one that needs to sign up for “over-consumers anonymous.”
I was almost in a panic when our town banned plastic bags. Oh no! What do we do with all of the cat poo?
You look great! Glad you have found maternity clothes than feel good.
Rebecca | Seven2Seven8 says
Your comment made me laugh! I am thinking, too, about how the more we try to do good, the more harm we sometimes do, and Mary’s comment about YEAH BUT I’D RATHER LOOK AT THE CANVAS BAGS.
We need a Michael-Pollan-meets-William-Morris mantra.
Buy things you know to be useful,
Or believe to be beautiful.
But not too much.