Winner Takes All

A story of Amazonian proportions by Pam Denholm

This week, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is final and they are kicking off with price drops on select grocery staples. Their strategy is to put pressure on other new-ish arrivals on the natural and organic food scene: giants like Walmart and Kroger. The gun has been fired, the starting gates flung open and a race to the bottom is underway. Who has the inside track? The stamina? Who’ll win?

While these big players duke it out on the national stage, relying on sales from other departments to carry them while they discount groceries in a fight for market share, what happens to the little guy? What happens to independently owned grocery stores? A year-long price war will be inconvenient for a giant, but it will bankrupt a small business in a matter of months.  What does that mean for you and me? For where we live?

Whether you have faith that Jeff Bezos will preserve Whole Foods’ values, or whether you buy into the criticism surrounding his ‘generosity’ and high staff turnover, you have to know Amazon did not acquire Whole Foods to sell cheap apples. Amazon shareholders are mostly banks and investment firms. They are in the race to win it, they are not the crowd handing out free water on the sidelines.  Eventually the race will be over and the prices of apples will go back up. It’s inevitable. It’s also inevitable that not everyone will have finished the race. And then what price would we have truly paid for those apples?

American dollars and receipt closeup

Although we are not a grocery store, let’s use SSO as a case study. We spend roughly $250,000 with local farmers every year. These farmers buy their compost locally, they get their well pumps replaced and repaired, locally, they rely on local mechanics, feed stores, and they send their kids to ballet or karate. South Shore Organics also advertises in magazines, like the Edible South Shore Magazine, we use a local print shop. We bank with a local bank and credit union, as do many of our farmers. We also employ locals, neighbors, as do the real time brick, mortar, and field based businesses we support. The many ways money flows through our community, circulates around our community, are vital to the sustainability and health of our community.

How we procure, and prepare food is one of the most rapidly changing markets in America today. It is more important than ever that as consumers, we are mindful of the choices we are making. Losing small businesses creates ripples that touch every corner of our communities. The only way we can save our home towns and our middle class lifestyle, is if we follow our brains and our hearts, not just our wallets.

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How on Earth?

By Pamela Denholm

Today is a sad day. Over my morning coffee, I found out that the store and cafe, ‘How on Earth‘ in Mattapoisett is closing down effective Labor Day. Owners Margie and Michael Baldwin sent out a poignant letter announcing their decision:

“We have had 10 fairly challenging years running How On Earth, attempting to demonstrate to our neighbors in Southeast Massachusetts that eating local organic food is a very wise decision, generating dramatically better health. Happily many of you have responded and joined in that “campaign” which is the most gratifying result of this huge effort on our part. But we believe that the struggle to become sustainable is just too much of a burden at this time in our lives, and given the growing awareness about local, organic food and the burgeoning grassroots demand for it, with the contribution we believe we have made towards that awareness, we have elected to close shop.”

I don’t know Margie and Michael personally. I have visited the store multiple times, and enjoyed delicious fresh sandwiches from their cafe.  The store was delightful and filled with rustic charm, beautiful food from local farms, local artisan products, and a thoughtful selection of cleaning and household products.

I know some of the challenges whereof they speak. For us, meal kit companies have put a large dent in our numbers. Online ordering and delivery of fresh food has become a much noisier space with companies like Amazon, Overstock, Whole Foods, and Stop and Shop all trying to get in on the action and going head to head with us for market share. In the last two or three years, we have seen a dramatic change in how corporate companies are engaging their customers on the subject of food, too. It is a rapidly evolving platform, and a very challenging environment for us to stay competitive in without the resources that these weighty corporates can put behind marketing, advertising, and slick websites. We are just the little guy.

The loss of ‘How on Earth’ is a big one for our community. We, as a community, will be losing ground on Labor Day.

We are losing character, mom and pop stores speak about who we are, they tell us about our history, they add value, depth, and dimension to our community. They spend locally, they support local initiatives, they are neighbors. Without them, we are faceless.

We are losing a voice. On Labor Day, it will be a little harder for us to speak up and be heard. Without the community of common interests built around stores like How on Earth, we are just individuals. Without a platform on which to stand, it becomes harder to unite, to be seen, to be heard.

We are losing power, or rather, we are disempowered. With a store like How on Earth, operated by a small business owner and run on principals and ethics, you can say what your needs are, and get a response. You can talk about products you like and don’t like. You do not have the same power with corporations and online companies who make choices for profits and gains. Corporations who answer to boards of directors and shareholders first, before customers.

We are losing a local market place. We are losing a trading post which farmers and other small artisans counted on. We are losing a place for farmers and artisans to connect to their community.

how on earth

I understand the Baldwin’s decision. I do. No one can say ‘should have would have’ because to be a small business owner in today’s world you need to be make sacrifices, be brave, be committed, and work harder than you will ever work at anything else, ever. I am sad for them, because I know how hard this decision must have been after ten years. I am sad for our community. What a loss. And I am sad for me, because the landscape of family owned businesses invested in their community just got a little lonelier.

We bid the How on Earth store, the owners and hard working staff farewell, with our gratitude for all they have done to make a meaningful impact on where we live.

Famine to Feast

A story about frugality, mindfulness, and ingenuity

Pam Denholm

I am obsessed about a little series I found on YouTube. OBSESSED!  It’s called The War Time Kitchen and Garden. There are only eight episodes, I’ve watched them all, more than once. History needs to be made real to capture my attention. I find dates, events, and locations all very difficult to relate to without the stories of people, how events impacted them, where they lived, where they live now, their hardships and triumphs.  It transforms a mere sequence of dusty events into life in full color, tangible, meaningful, and valuable.

old kitchen

The series is set during World War I, and part of my obsession with it is born from my love of gardening and cooking, but I think what I have taken most from it is just how much we take our modern food system for granted. Although it is a reality in other parts of the world, we don’t ever give a second thought to whether or not our grocery store shelves will be well stocked when we visit. We don’t have to think about what is available, or in season, we don’t have to plan ahead for meals more than five minutes if we choose. We are very lucky, and by comparison really quite frivolous.

I certainly understood a little better my own grandmother’s ability to turn the most basic ingredients into a dining masterpiece, her ‘you get what you get’ mindset, and her distaste for wasteful behavior be it for food scraps, a button, or a bit of string.

Home cooks were creative out of necessity, butter was in short supply, and you couldn’t get picky over your cut of meat – all animal products were very difficult to come by since a food shortage also meant there were very few fodder and feed resources for livestock. Even keeping chickens was a luxury since they were another mouth to feed, despite their usefulness as egg layers. As a result, any animal slaughtered was careful and mindfully portioned, and every part of the animal, tongue to tail, was used up with grave appreciation.

12635767 - an allotment garden with flowers and vegetables

Against the backdrop of carefulness, portioning, and creativity, our mindless, thoughtless, wasteful modern day food system stands in stark contrast. The series also gave me pause for thought on how reliant we are on those fully stocked shelves in our grocery stores, and when you think about it, how truly fragile our industrialized food system is. What would it take to upend? Not much.

I’m not supposing we live with self-imposed war time style rations, but it is food for thought, and a reminder that robust regional food systems make robust hardy communities.

What Does Your Food Say About You?

My first job ever was as cashier at a grocery store. We were trained to be very respectful, and not comment on what people were buying, but that didn’t hush the running commentary in my head.

Good steak, candles, flowers. Date night?

Buttermilk, flour, eggs, chocolate, whipped cream, I wonder what they are going to make?

Huh, corn+watermelon+hamburgers=barbecue!

Oh, salad, salad, and more salad, and rice crackers? She’s definitely dieting!

Dude, do you really need all this toilet paper? Are you going to be okay?

Fast forward all these years later, I often tell friends and family, and whoever else will listen, how very lucky we are at South Shore Organics, we really do have the best customers! The job can be tough, but the people we service are always so wonderful that we don’t notice. And it got me thinking about what their purchase choices say about them, here’s what I came up with:

  • you care about yourself enough to eat good, beautiful, food
  • you care about your health enough to eat food that is clean, and to try new foods, and eat a wide variety of whatever is in season
  • you care enough about your friends and family, that preparing food, and sitting to enjoy a meal together, spend time together, have conversations together, is important to you
  • you care about your community and choose to spend your hard earned money locally, with small businesses and family farms to whom it makes a big difference
  • you care about the future of our food system and the diversity of our food crops, and will support regional farms so that our children’s children will have access to them one day
  • you care about our waterways, about soil erosion, chemical use, gmo’s, and maintaining open spaces, you probably also recycle, and compost

See? Who wouldn’t want to know somebody like that? Aren’t we lucky to have gathered and and collected these wonderful people all over the South Shore? I think we are. The only question left?

I wonder what they are going to do with their fennel this week?

Dollars and Sense

Some times you see a news headline that you just need to reread because as you read it, you can feel the world start to shift into something different than before. This morning, that headline was:

Amazon is Buying Whole Foods in $13.7B Deal

It’s too early to unpack what this could mean for Whole Foods customers, obviously we hope for lower prices on our favorite organic brands–but it does put a significant portion our food system in the hands of yet another giant, a giant that is competing with Apple and Google in a race to be the first company valued at a trillion dollars.

But let’s say it does mean we get to save a couple bucks here and there, is that where to true value is? I wonder what it would look like if we started doing valuations on our communities. When farmers spend money on inputs which are locally produced and consumers buy food which is locally grown, the money which would have otherwise gone outside of the region now stays within. Here are some findings from a 2004 study of southeast Minnesota’s farming community:

  • the study found that a yearly average of $800 million was leaving the community as a result of farmers purchasing out-of-state inputs and consumers purchasing food produced via industrial agriculture
  • if 15% of those food dollars were shifted to regional farms,the community could generate $45 million in income
  • $45 million in income ultimately would contribute $88.5 million to the area’s overall economy.
  • Researchers estimate that roughly 2000 new jobs and $200 million in new income would be generated if state farmers sold only 3 times more produce in-state than out.

In Michigan, roughly $1.9 billion is spent yearly on fresh produce which is grown out of state, despite the fact that the state grows the second largest variety of produce nationwide.

Research conducted in other states demonstrated similar statistics:

  • In Seattle, shifting 20% of food dollars toward local farms would result in nearly $1 billion dollars being added to the local economy each year.
  • Illinois found that its citizens spend $48 billion on out-of-state food annually, while most farms in the state grow commodity crops for export. Estimates indicate that a 20% increase in local food production,processing, and purchasing would generate an astonishing $30 billion statewide.

Termed the “local multiplier effect”, this powerful economic impact is largely due to the fact that locally owned businesses are more likely to re-spend their money in the community. Indeed, a growing body of research indicates that a dollar spent on a locally owned business circulates 2 to 4 times more in the community compared to that same dollar spent at a non-local business.

The other truly great thing, you really don’t have that much impact on the valuation of Apple, Google, or Amazon. I doubt they’d miss you. But you absolutely have a powerful impact on your local community, because every dollar spend locally, multiplies. Way to get bang for your buck!

Langwater Farm

Changing Organic Landscape

When we look at Whole Foods Market, we think “big”, the truth is that it’s all a matter of perspective. Sure, Whole Foods is big; after all, 440 stores in the US is nothing to sneeze at. But compared to the nearly 3, 500 Walmart Super-centers and 2, 400 Kroger-brand supermarkets in America alone, Whole Foods is relatively small. Add home delivery options like Amazon or meal delivery services like Blue Apron and suddenly you’ve got a mid-level grocer in distress—scrapping plans to expand, and closing stores all across the country.

With large grocers increasing their offerings in the organic-and-natural-food market at a cheaper price, it should come as no surprise that the notoriously expensive Whole Foods (dubbed by many as “Whole Paycheck”) has felt a hit—and they are not the only organic food chain that is struggling. Smaller rivals like Sprouts, Fresh Market, and Fairway have all seen plunging stocks this year as well. The solution—for Whole Foods, at least—is to start with store closures in the smaller markets, and lower prices across the board. They are also attempting to grow the larger markets with a new chain: 365 by Whole Foods, a smaller, cheaper option for those who want to buy organic. Additionally, the chain is partnering with a private consumer data subsidiary of global grocery giant Tesco in an attempt to use customer information to improve merchandising and personalize offers to loyal shoppers. So what does this mean for the smallest of purveyors, like South Shore Organics? Well, for starters, we can’t deny that any grocer or food delivery service (big or small) is potential competition.

Whether folks are shopping at another local market or getting pre-packaged meals from meal kit services, the fact is that we saw our first dip in sales last year. It’s left us wondering whether our community is seeing the trickle down impact of these large grocery stores, and how we are supposed to sustain our business model in the face of such competition. We are one location to their many; we don’t mine consumer data for trends; and above all, we believe in helping our customers feel a stronger connection to their food. From its very inception, South Shore Organics has been on a mission to provide clean food from sources that support family farms and food production. This means getting produce from local farms year-round.

But we still compete with bigger companies who merely pay lip service to what is our primary focus and core mission. Companies for whom “supporting farmers” means getting farm-fresh produce at the lowest cost while offering farmers 90 days payment terms. A large proportion of processed food sold under the organic label (everything from frozen carrots to chicken nuggets) is imported, and largely from China. We understand that shoppers want high quality at an affordable cost. This is why we strive to offer the best produce around, while keeping our prices competitive. In fact, our regular price checks against chain grocers and local markets in the area consistently demonstrate that we offer the most local and organic produce for the lowest cost, and we are very proud of that—especially since we are only one small, locally-owned business with fewer resources at our disposal to do our good work and make a positive impact within our community. It is both challenging and frustrating to go head to head with many of the super-centers, meal kit companies, and cheap organic brands for ‘organic dollars’ when they will do whatever it takes and make (environmental and ethical) compromises, while we, the scrawniest, scrappiest kid on the block with hardly any muscle, stand steadfast, refuse to make compromises, and cling to our food ethics and mission.

We have seen a lot of change this year. Many farmers are no longer offering CSA’s, and have reduced their commitment to Farmers’ Markets this season. On a local, small farm level, many of us are feeling the contraction. With existing stores expanding their offerings and many new ways to think about, cook, and consume food coming to market, other, larger brands like Whole Foods are feeling it too.

It is going to be interesting to see how the landscape is affected over the next few years, and see who will survive. I hope like hell it’s us, others like us, and our small family run farms. Otherwise, who will we trust to do the right thing?

“Putting Things Into Perspective.” Berkshire Organics – 24 Feb 2017.
Barth, Brian. “Meal Kit Mania, Unpacked.” Modern Farmer – 16 Nov 2016.
Peterson, Hayley. “Whole Foods is Closing Stores: See if Yours is on the List.” Business Insider – 9 Feb 2017.
“Whole Foods is Closing Nine Stores After a Year of Sluggish Sales.” Reuters: Fortune – 9 Feb 2017

All Things Have a Season

Oliver de Serres (1539-1619) once said, “A thriving household depends on the use of seasonal produce and the application of common sense.”

Putting a home-cooked healthy dinner on the table with any regularity is a challenge, whether you are a food writer, chef, farmer, stay at home mom, a commuter, part-time or full-time worker-bee. The struggle is real for all of us. The most common complaints are:

  • I hate staring into the fridge at 6pm,trying to decide what to have
  • I’m so bored with my repertoire, we eat the same thing over and over
  • My children are always whining about what I’ve made for dinner
  • I just don’t have time
  • I’m not a good cook

I read somewhere that since the advent of cooking shows on TV, the number of people who cook regularly has declined, which is interesting. You would think people would be inspired! What has happened, I think, is that cooking shows have raised the bar of what we think is expected, and now, unless we are performing Jamie Oliver or Rachel Ray type feats in the kitchen, we feel like underachievers.

The truth is, there is no secret genie. No magic unicorn answer. Until the visions of star trek producers are realized and we can push a button on a replicator, wait two seconds, and open the door to a steaming roast beef and gravy dinner, we are on our own.

Here is the another truth: every option has it’s pros, and it unfortunately, also has its cons. Whether it is a microwaved dinner (processed, not fresh, stored in plastic, often full of preservatives)  a meal-kit you just need to assemble (packaging nightmare, environmental impact is awful, and it’s expensive by comparison), a farmer’s market trip (getting there in a window time frame can be challenging), or a drive to the grocery store (not the fresh food ideal, food often shipped from far) at the end of the day, no matter how tired you feel, good fresh food takes work.

This brings us to the final truth. It’s all in the planning. If you fail to plan, then plan to fail.

It is for this reason that I am so excited to introduce Cook the Seasons. Here’s why, after test-driving many, many products, including the meal kit offerings, we picked Cook the Seasons to share with you:

  • It supports all the food ethics we hold dear: meals based on local, seasonal, farm fresh fruits and veggies
  • It is completely flexible, you can tailor it to what you like to eat, all the while considering what is coming in your delivery
  • Cook The Seasons puts left overs to good use with ‘Reinvention Recipes’
  • It’s easy to use
  • The recipes are super simple, with a casual elegance that allows you to be Rachel Ray, and make it look just as easy! And delicious!
  • Lia doesn’t just give you assembly instructions, she supports each season with a ‘how to stock you pantry for spring’ and ‘kitchen equipment you will need this season’, plus other wonderful tips on which oil to use, or how to de-glaze a pan. You will actually learn to cook.
  • You can make cooking a family affair, and get everybody into the kitchen with you
  • You actually spend less and less time in the kitchen as the week wears on and you lean on ingredients you’ve already prepared
  • You save money

All this for only $55 for three months, AND Lia has generously offered all SSO customers $20 discount with the coupon code SOUTHSHORE. And, we are so confident it will help you use up every morsel in your green box, that we too will give all customers who join us a $10 credit to their account.

Seriously, what have you got to lose?

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The Dish on Meal Kit Companies: Farmers

With all the ‘farm goodness’ on marketing materials, we asked if meal kit companies deliver on their ‘small farm’ promise, the results were not that surprising:

Menu’s Are Not Regional, or That Local

Large meal kit companies are sourcing and shipping raw ingredients nationally and internationally, and distributing the end product all across the USA. “There’s less carbon emitted to aggregate meat on a shipping container on a boat from New Zealand than if we were driving it from Nebraska to Chicago,” says Matthew Wadiak about grass-fed beef, Matthew is Blue Apron’s 38-year-old chief operating officer and one of its three co-founders.

In an article written by Brian Barth for Modern Farmer, Plated, which boasts “farm-sourced seasonal ingredients,” did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. HelloFresh, which makes a similar claim [about fresh ingredients from nearby farms], replied to inquiries via an email statement—“we source a growing percentage of our produce direct from growers”—yet provided no details regarding that percentage or those growers.

A Culture of Mono-cropping

Mono-cropping is hundreds of acres under a single crop which is terrible for biodiversity and genetic diversity. Meal kit companies have become so successful, and are dealing in such large quantities (8,000,000 meals a month in the case of Blue Apron), that when they need chard for a recipe, they need 40,000 pounds of it. This runs counter to the small farm ideal, supported by locals through CSA’s, Farmers Markets, and businesses like ours. A diverse farm with many different crops minimizes the risk and exposure for farmers against catastrophe. If one crop fails, another is likely to be successful. Diverse farms are also key to the genetic viability of our food system, and are also home to a greater number of insects and wildlife, all vital in lowering the environmental impact of agriculture and creating a system that is healthier, more robust, and more sustainable.

Local Farm Economics

Spending money locally improves local economy. To have the same economic impact and job creation, you would have to spend three times as much with a chain store, and even more with a business that isn’t based in your neighborhood, but instead, is shipping to its end users.

Although meal kit companies report to pay ‘somewhere between wholesale and retail’ prices for food from small farms, in our experience this has not been the case. For example, Markristo Farm who works with our counterpart, Berkshire Organics out in Western Mass, was approached to grow the above mentioned 40,000 pounds of Swiss chard, the price he was offered for it was 80 cents per pound. At South Shore Organics we pay anywhere between $1.75 and $2.50 per bunch of Swiss chard, depending on the farm and the time of year. A vastly different price point. Eighty cents is well below the wholesale price, and not viable for smaller farms relying on labor and not machines to harvest and wash crops.

What if the crop was a couple weeks late due to a cool start to the summer season, the meal kit company could reject the entire crop. What would a farmer with 24 acres do with 40,000 pounds of Swiss chard?

Food Waste

These companies promise ‘no waste’, however, we have already addressed the abhorrent plastic waste in our blog ‘The Dish on Meal Kit Companies: Packaging’. And food waste? Menus and recipes prepared by these meal kit companies rely on perfect portioning as well as simplicity to be successful. The cabbage can’t be too big, or too small, neither can the apple, or the leaf size of the kale. Unfortunately, Mother Nature is not a drive-through order window, and she loves allowing things to grow at their own rate.

Similarly, meal kit companies do not accept wiggly carrots, because it makes them more challenging for their customers to peel. Or misshapen green peppers. Or green peppers that have already started to blush red. The waste is real, you just don’t get to see it.

Our customers know we include potatoes of all sizes, wiggly carrots, and funky green peppers. These perfectly edible vegetables are not rejected and destined for the compost heap because they don’t conform to size, weight, and aesthetic standards of a recipe card.

Food Ethics

And what of the ‘food miles’ solution suggested by the recent surge in hyperlocal meal-kit companies? Wadiak of Blue Apron would argue that they sacrifice mass reach for ideology. Apparently they are mutually exclusive. Mass Reach vs. Ideology. Which side are you on when it comes to food?

Farmers 1Farmers 2Farmers 4

Source (quoted): Modern Farmer, Meal Kit Mania – Unpacked, and conversations with farmers

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The Dish on Meal Kit Companies: Packaging

I have been watching the meal kit company space develop with great interest over the last year or two. I’ve overheard people talking about how convenient it is, and how there is no waste, and how it all seems too good to be true. And it is. Not only do meal kits take all the spontaneity out of cooking, but they fly in the face of all ethics we value and cherish.

In this post, we are going to tackle the environmental impact of all the single use, single serve plastic used in portioned meal kit servings. Here is a sample of what one delivery from a popular meal kit company, Blue Apron, will bring in terms of waste: plastic-use

At a time when we are waking up and realizing the enormous impact  of ‘single use’ plastics on our environment, meal kit companies are making the problem far, far worse. Fact: every piece of plastic ever made still exists in the world today.  Biodegradable plastics are still not the answer, they are made by adding metals to the plastic, causing oxidation, which breaks the bags down into pieces. These metals leach into the immediate environment, and the pieces of plastic still persist, they are just smaller, harder to clean up, and if anything, more dangerous.

300 Million tons of plastic is produced every year, only 10% of it is recycled, and of that 10%, we, the U.S., are sending container loads (an estimated 6.6 million tons) of it to China to be re-processed. Think about the carbon footprint of that little statistic for a moment. In addition, it’s hard to know exact numbers, but recycling aside our best guess is that more than 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into our seas every year.

When plastic is recycled, it is often down-cycled. Bottles don’t turn back into more bottles, they turn into flip flops, and textiles for clothing and blankets, for example. And what of contaminants found in some plastics? Harmful chemicals we are only now learning can be endocrine disrupters? They too leach into the environment. One way we see this is when bits of plastic are eaten by fish, these endocrine disrupters are absorbed by the fish, and we eat the fish. The endocrine disrupters stay in the environment, like the plastic, they don’t disappear.

Now consider that just ONE meal kit company, the same one featured above, ships more than 8 million meals PER MONTH. That’s tens of thousands of these (and this is just one of six major meal kit companies operating in the US):

platic-waste

By comparison, this is what somebody cooking from a South Shore Organics delivery, or a CSA share, or a trip to the farmers market is likely to be left with for waste:

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No matter which way you cut the cake, the truth is, we desperately, desperately need to cut back on the amount of plastic we are using. We MOST DEFINITELY need to cut back on how much ‘single use’ plastic we are using. And although some meal kit companies will take the packaging back after a few deliveries, once you have emptied, rinsed, and compacted it, they are not cleaning it for reuse. They are not allowed to. They are discarding and recycling it, allowing it to be turned into something else, and they are buying new plastic bags for their next delivery.

In terms of plastic use, meal kit companies have one of the worst environmental impacts of all food systems. That’s a hard fact to swallow, just ask the fish, seals, and albatross’s to name a few.

Sources:

“The Trashy Consequencies of Meal Kit Companies” By Ellen Cushing for Buzzfeed, November 2015
“Dear Blue Apron, You are Making it Worse” By Nathaniel Johnson, August 2014
“The Truth About Recycling” The 5Gyres Institute
World Economic Forum, “The New Plastics Economy, Rethinking the Future of Plastics” WEF
Brad Plumer, “China Doesn’t Even Want to Buy Our Garbage Anymore” The Washington Post

 

Loin Cloths and Fig Leaves – Part II

If you read Part I, you will know that the disposable nature of clothing is wreaking havoc on our environment, especially since most of it is made from manufactured fabrics using petrochemicals that don’t biodegrade. On the procurement end, here is what you can do:

  1. Buy clothes made from natural materials. These would be cottons and fibers (wool and hair). You can also buy clothes made from plant fibers, the fabric is called ‘Rayon’, but Rayon is only marginally better than polyesters and the like, because of the extensive processing using harmful chemicals that turns plants like bamboo into  fabric.
  2. Buy classics, accessorize with fashion. This ensures you wear all of your clothes for longer.

But what is to be done once you have finished with an item and want to discard it? Here are some green methods to reuse and recycle your wardrobe (and they don’t require sewing or the skill set of a seamstress).

Recycle – donate your clothes at one of the many ‘recycling’ bins around town. This has become somewhat controversial, since many of these companies actually make a profit from reselling your clothes, or turning them into rags or other recycled fabrics. Why shouldn’t you be the one to make money then? You can. Read the next point. I personally don’t have a problem if they make a dollar on my donation, I just don’t want it ending up in landfill.

Re-sell – if you have something that is good quality and good shape, post it on eBay, leave it at a consignment store, or have a fashonista yard sale. The ultimate green thing to do is to extend use.  This idea is particularly useful for Halloween costumes your children will only ever wear once, ballet recital clothes, things that you have grown out of, or those ‘what was I thinking’ purchases.

Re-purpose your clothes, find other uses for them! Here are some super cool ideas!

There are THOUSANDS of ideas out there. You never need throw a t-shirt away again!

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