This picture on the cover of yesterday’s New York Times kept me up last night. Apparently the smog in Beijing is so thick, the city has come to a standstill. The residents of Beijing are locked in their homes waiting for air that is safe enough to breath.
Inhaling in Beijing is the equivalent of smoking 40 cigarettes a day. Smoking that many cigarettes not only leads to multiple cancers and was recently proven can alter DNA of future generations.
The worst part is that while the world laments the air quality of Beijing, there are 10 cities worse – and 9 out of the 10 are in India and Pakistan.
While all these cities suffer because of a multitude of industries, there is one string that binds many of them together.
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry – the first being the oil industry. Oil refining and processing don’t always occur in city centers, but textile production is often in urban centers. Much of that pollution comes from mostly coal-burning generated power needed to run the massive machines that weave the actually textile.
Delhi is now officially has the most polluted air on earth. If the Chinese are breathing air of 40 cigarettes, what can be said of Delhites? Three other Indian cities listed are textiles centers and all of the cities listed in Pakistan.
Pictures like this make me more determined to continue promoting handloom as an alternative to the fashion industry. It doesn't take one piece of coal to make handwoven cloth.
This is one of those giant world issues that feel unsolvable and it's so easy to disconnect from it. But we are connected. Everyday, we have a choice whether to continue to support it with our purchases.
The decisions are all in our hands. Every day, we are either stepping into the direction we want or stepping into this quagmire of a world we've created. Every decision you make - from the clothing you buy, to the places you travel, to whether to use plastic or paper bags, to the media you choose to expose yourself to. It's worth asking, which way are you going?
The time for mindless buying is over. It has to be – the world is literally chocking on our fashion choices. Toxic-free fashion is possible but it will take all of us to make it happen.
Here is a list of companies, which are owning up their role in this toxic industry and taking steps toward a toxic-free fashion world. The leaders include Puma, Burberry Espirit, Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher and the worst according to Green Peace research: Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and anything from LVMH .
Even better, to celebrate local and small designers, I highly recommend The SF-based The Podolls, Jess Brown, Amour Vert and Erica Tanov and of course, Indigo Handloom. Each of these designers are eco-aware and thoughtful about each choice they make in their supplies - down to the buttons they choose.
To keep on top of this stuff, I also recommend their leaders who are shining the headlights toward ethical fashion. They will keep you on the right path: https://bkaccelerator.com/textile-tuesdays-indigo-handloom/