I am shifting gears to talk about the fashion industry this week. Sustainable fashion is truly at the heart of what we are doing at The Buzzard Farm. I believe in sustainable communities. I believe this is the answer to so many problems. We cannot support each other if each and every one of us out source the items from our clothing, the clothes themselves, the sources of the clothes and every piece in between from giant conglomerates who outsource. Not only is that horrible for small farms but it is terrible for our planet.
I am a fiber farmer. Yeah, you know that. I got into alpaca farming because of my love of small business and honestly, a dreamer complex. I have learned an immense amount about how the fiber industry works. Businesses can not stay afloat because people do not want to pay what it costs to produce them. I discovered so much bringing on these animals about the things I could produce and provide locally but how to delivery them and have people accept the cost was a whole different problem.
But how did I even get here?
When I started alpaca farming, I was in the midst of replacing my wardrobe. I had recently lost some weight and my clothes no longer fit me. I had so much guilt buying clothing from super stores. Instead of buying my clothing from super stores, I just did not buy anything. I wore large baggy clothes. I decided to take the minimalist approach and only buy what was necessary. Which, I think is amazing but I love fashion. I firmly believe it is an amazing way to express your individuality.
When the pandemic hit, I was spending more time at home and more time on instagram. I discovered lots of women who needed to find an income very quickly so to make ends meet, were selling clothing on instagram. I also discovered women who took on this endeavor simply to reduce their carbon footprint. I found other women who did it because they wanted to keep clothing out of landfills. Suddenly, I had zero guilt about buying. Buying for me, is problematic because of how our goods are sourced. I want my money and the goods I receive from spending it to go to a morally sound operation. I cannot stand outsourcing when I see my neighbors and small farms around me suffer in the way that they do.
The way our community systems are set up, it does not make sense for me or anyone to spend more to support a large unethical business and large unethical businesses will lose money before they see you spend your money elsewhere.
But at that moment, the moment when I discovered these women starting these businesses to make a change, I made the decision to no longer be a part of the problem. I, as the consumer, have the power to no longer support large unethical clothing corporations.
And I did. I really really did. I replaced my entire wardrobe and then some. I also made a lot of friends and I learned so much about our fashion industry and how it adds to our throw away society. I bought every gift throughout the whole year from a small business in 2020 and I continue to do so.
So what did I learn about the industry that changed my mind?
According to the EPA, 17 million tons of clothing waste ended up in a landfill in just that year alone. That is a huge number. Fast fashion is a quick money maker for businesses. They thrive on the latest and greatest. Fast defines everything about it. Consumers are quick to buy and quick to dispose of and then quick to purchase the next new trend.
Fast fashion also makes it impossible for small businesses to compete. Production time for a business cannot happen in the mere days it takes for a large corporation to deliver an entire new fashion line to consumers.
What Can You Do to Help?
Support your small farms. If you knit, buy your yarn from a local farm or from a farmer on Etsy. Join a local fiber shed where you can learn about sustainability in your area.
Buy secondhand. Buying secondhand is a wonderful way to recycle clothing that would otherwise end up in landfills. The best way to shop secondhand is by buying from a reseller or a resale site like Poshmark where the money goes directly to the small business.
The best way to help is to minimize your purchases and chose your clothing wisely. Recycle your clothing at responsible sources when you no longer need it.