I don't have a loom in my living room. Or my own sheep, or silk worms, or cotton fields. And speaking of cotton fields, that's a fairly touchy subject in the south. The above photo was used for promoting cotton clothing (Jezebel did an article on it). Beautiful photo, right? Yeah, it was rather upsetting to a certain demographic of people here. Have you ever walked through a cotton field before it was picked? Those things are thorny nasty little bugger. If they didn't produce such an amazing textile we would have killed it as a weed. And recently a friend sent me this article about Victoria's Secret cotton coming from Africa picked by underage girls.
Then there's that wonderful thing called Lycra whose patent is owned by The Koch Brothers (They're no Bill and Melinda Gates, but any stretch of the imagination). Going further back, there was the Threads #149 article "No Waste Allowed" that had a fairly harrowing pictures of what the back side of a textile manufacturing plant looks like. Found a photo here if you want to look. And then going back to the above movie, the fact that the workers (usually young girls) get paid about $.06 per t-shirt made from those textiles. No idea what the actual textile workers are paid. I'm sure its not so awesome either. Though there are many arguments that employing people in developing nations is actually helping to raise their standard of living. I'm certain that can be true, but many of the nations we're talking about do not have governments willing or capable of enforcing environmentalism and human rights.
So, what does that all add up to? For me it adds up to the fact I feel guilty every time I purchase fabric, or clothes at the store. I know that many other sewing bloggers have talked about, or at least mentioned, this issue. People have suggested buying thrifted items, or upcycling old tablecloths/curtains/whathaveyou and all the rest. I think these are all fantastic ideas. Heck, I made my son's costume out of an old bed sheet that had all manner of holes through it. Some of my favorite pieces of clothing have been thrifted. But for the most part I have trouble imagining a table cloth into work appropriate clothing.
Which brings us back to the title. "But I still have to buy the fabric." How do you, dear reader, feel about these issues? How do you reconcile the cognitive dissonance that comes from knowing these things intellectually? I feel that every little bit helps, buying natural fibers, buy local, or buy 'made in my country'. I feel its somewhat inevitable that we are going to run up against these issues in a globalized community, but it means making smarter choices whenever we are able.