I’ve decided that I’d try to write more posts that are timely. As a lover of creation and pithy cleverness, I regret not participating in the massive SOPA uprising (as that’s something I couldn’t agree to at all. If you don’t know about it, I think The Oatmeal summed up SOPA nicely).
So I thought I’d take my shot at writing something related to Groundhog Day as a first step. I started out by researching this furry omen maker, and soon realized I wasn’t sure how I could relate groundhogs to mindful living. But after looking at pictures of groundhogs hoping for inspiration, my visual self kicked in and I started to think about the groundhog’s fur. And somehow, my mind wandered to a recent post that I read on Jean of All Trades about her view on fur, and recalled another article on the Blind Hem where J.C. Elkin talks about inheriting her mother’s fur coat much to her chagrin. My association is totally ridiculous and maybe on the verge of ludicrous but I believe that all great inspiration starts in a pretty random and meandering way.
So naturally, this led me to think about my own relationship with animal fur over the years. Like Jean and J.C., I used to have a strong aversion to fur. I thought it was cruel, and like J.C., I was afraid of being judged for liking something made from the coats of furry animals. But somewhere along the way, I realized that everything in life is about the seemingly difficult tradeoffs that Jean mentions in her post. Which is that we have to make decisions based on our own priorities and learn to be ok with them because life is never black or white. And I have a lot of respect for people like Jean who have their own opinion but are still very open to other’s perspectives.
For me, I stay awake at night thinking about how much of an impact that our consumption patterns and use of resources affects the environment. Because in my heart, I know this is what ultimately impacts our ability to sustain life on earth–whether it be human, animal, or vegetable. So here are some of the things that keep me up at night about the way that we consume:
- Breeding and killing animals solely for fur or meat and discarding everything else.
- Products made of synthetic fibers and polymers like polyester and plastic that don’t biodegrade and end up in the gyro in the middle of the ocean. (No, I’m not referring to the Greek pita.)
- Low wages and bad working conditions in third-world garment factories that consumers in the U.S. would never tolerate for themselves.
- The clothing that companies like H&M throw away at the end of each season.
- The fresh clean water that’s used and the run off that’s created from processing natural fibers like organic cotton.
- Pre-washed and pre-packaged organic lettuce which consumes a lot of extra energy to wash, air dry, and keep cold so it’s fresh when it gets to you in the grocery store.
After looking at my list, I’m pretty sure some of you are wondering how I sleep at all. But to sleep, have a refrigerator, drive occasionally, and like fashion, I’ve made some tradeoffs to consume less but still find ways to enjoy myself. For example, I’m a huge proponent of eating local and in season organic food. And limiting my fashion purchases to timeless classics, gently-used, and upcycled products–including those made out of leather and fur. And like J.C., I’ve come to terms with my discomfort around upcycled fur but only because it’s a natural source of warmth with little waste.
I have to give kudos to companies like La Canadienne and Harricana for using leather and fur that might end up at the bottom of a trash heap. And the same goes for the vegan coat company Vaute Couture that makes their coats out of recycled polar fleece.
The other part of this is that I don’t judge anyone else for having their own beliefs or priorities. In fact, I respect them. I’m grateful to people like Jean and J.C. (whose opinions aren’t that different than mine) because their opinions and ideas help inform my perspectives and continue the conversation about what matters to each of us. And that’s so inspiring!
What are your thoughts on fur, upcycling, and consumption? Feel free to share. It’s always good to hear other’s perspectives so I can learn and grow from them.