As you might already know, I spent all of 2018 curating The Creativity Project: Getting to the Heart of “Why” We Quilt. It was an essential step in my own creative process. Not only did it help me to build a community of like-minded artists. It also helped me to understand the connection our creativity has to our mind, body, and spirt. But the more attention that I gave to my creative process and “why” we quilt, the more essential it became to consider the manner in which we do it. I called this “how” we quilt.
For starters, I wanted to know how fabric is made, in order to have a more meaningful and connected quilting practice. In addition, I started to consider how does my hobby as a quilter impact the earth? How does it impact the people that make fabric? Where does fabric waste go (cuttings, excess batting, large unwanted scraps)? Armed with this knowledge, is there is a way for me to be a “better” Maker?
What I Learned
I did some research, and what I learned, is that I have a lot to learn about the textile industry, sustainability, recycling, and textile waste! For starters, did you know that the average US citizen throws away approximately 70 lbs of clothing and other textiles per year? Per year! That’s bananas!
According to this BBC article, we are buying more clothing than ever — approximately 60% more than we were buying just 15 years ago. And while this is just conjecture, I’d have to assume that our quilting cotton purchases have also drastically increased over time.
This is a problem for a few reasons. First, the textile industry currently consumes an epic amount of water and energy. From fiber growing and synthesis of fabrics (cotton, in particular, uses an enormous about of water to produce) — to textile dyeing and distribution of the finished product — it all uses water.
In addition, the fabrics we know and love are well-travelled. Very often (with the exception of American Made Brand and maybe a few others — and please, please share if you have additional information on this), quilting fabrics are printed on the opposite side of the world, and must travel a great distance before making their way into our stashes.
Third, reselling and recycling textiles is not always easy. Often, reselling textiles can be difficult, so most people donate their textiles to charity. Unfortunately, charity organizations are so inundated with textiles that the majority do not get sold or recycled. They end up in landfills or getting burned, which contributes to even more pollution.
What Could I Do?
Overwhelmed by my research, I wanted desperately to contribute toward a way that we could all be “better” makers. I can honestly say that even with all that I have learned, I am by no means an expert on the topic sustainability. What I can say is that I am working toward being a more mindful consumer and actively learning new ways to do my part to leave a smaller carbon footprint.
Knowing that the difficulty of re-selling textiles contributed to why they were donated or discarded, I wanted to find a way to make it easy, appealing, and fun to buy and sell secondhand fabrics. Along with that, I wanted to share what I was learning about sustainability, mindful consumption, and the power of acting as a community.
It’s definitely not always easy, and I definitely don’t know what I’m doing most days. But I can promise you that everything that we do is coming from a place of love and with the intention of leaving this world better than we found it.
p.s. – do you want to contribute to the Good Vibes blog? Get in touch! We are always looking for ways for our community members to be a part of FGF!