News Flash!

Well, here it is! Barefoot Fashion is once again up and running. Its been a crazy year full of ups and downs, but now my bare feet are solidly on the ground again and I am ready to run.

My most constant companion!

Those of you who followed this blog before will notice that it has a new look. It also has a new purpose, or rather an expanded purpose. Now instead of simply educating the about slow, sustainable fashion it will also feature my new line of handmade, recycled, one-of-a-kind garments. I still intend to blog about pertinent news in the fashion industry and even share easy dyi projects, but I will also show off what is happening in my sewing room.

Currently I am working on putting together an assortment of dresses and tops to present to a two local businesses: one that specializes in green products and another that carries anything hippie. I am also planning a booth at a local folk festival in October. All while holding a full time job and juggling a few other miscellaneous balls! Wish me luck and follow my progress. I’ll keep you all posted!

Textile Recycling 101

This image was originally posted to Flickr by Unhindered by Talent at http://flickr.com/photos/26406919@N00/16276040

Every year in the United States, over 10 million tons of textiles are manufactured and account for 4% of all the waste entering landfills. The word textile is a board term and encompasses everything from the garments we wear and the sheets on our beds to the carpets in our living rooms and the cushions on our chairs. This wide class of manufactured goods can be broken down into two general categories, materials like carpets and mattresses that have a relatively long life span and those like garments and bedding which are often views as seasonal or disposable textiles.

The entire concept of a “disposable” item is itself deceitful. Even if an item (like a cotton t-shirt) is 100% bio-degradable, sending the item to a landfill is wasting all the resources that went into its production. No manufacturing plant is operated without large amounts of electricity, water, and human effort. This is not to mention the coal, oil, water, electricity, etc that was spent obtaining the raw materials for use in the plant’s production (never mind the raw materials themselves). Unfortunately, the modern fashion industry has built empires around an ever revolving door of so call “disposable fashion.” The “must have” item from last fall’s runway is suddenly hideous in the light of spring and in its place is another garment with an equally limited lifespan.

(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

If the world of fashionstas and fashionistos can’t be persuaded to the side of slow fashion, we must at the very least preach and promote the accessibility of textile recycling. The world of textile recycling is a double sided coin that shines as brightly on one side as it does the other. Not only does it aid the environment, but it also aids our fellow man.

The simplest and most accessible way to recycle unused textiles is through donations to companies like Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Of the 2.5 billion pounds of textiles recycled each year in the United States, 50% are recycled through charitable organizations that sort, donate, and/or resell otherwise unwanted items. Besides providing clothing to needy individuals, these companies frequently sponsor programs that offer education and/or employment to otherwise unemployable segments of the population. Even garments and linens that are stained or torn can be donated to such charities because a portion of their income is obtained by selling unusable textile goods to recycling centers.

At the textile recycling center, otherwise unwanted textile goods are cut up and/or broken down to create new products for the consumer market. Cotton may be cut into rags for polishing and cleaning purposes or broken down into fiber to create high quality paper goods. Wool may be shredded to create insulation or upholstery stuffing. Findings such as buttons and zippers are removed and set aside for reuse in new garments. Unusable natural materials eventually find their way to a compost pile, leaving as little as 5% total waste product.

This image is property of The Council for Textile Recycling.

Handmade Fashion from Bamboo Yarn

A pixie hat I created with bamboo yarn.

One of my first experiences with bamboo fiber came in the form of yarn. As an avid fiber artist, my yarn addiction compels me to peruse the shelves and bins of every yarn shop in a three county radius. These shopping expeditions consist of me poking, prodding, and petting countless skeins of yarn until I find one specimen that I simply cannot put down. The day I fell in love with a nubby, sage green bamboo yarn is a day I will never forget. Having knitted with wool and cotton for years, bamboo seemed like an exotic treat. I was completely fascinated that the same material that was durable enough to create human dwellings could create a fiber that rivaled silk in luster and texture. Three skins of that yarn came home with me and were soon transformed into a charming pixie cap.
Since that time, I have created a wide variety of projects with bamboo and bamboo blend yarns. Due to its amazing beauty bamboo is always a treat to work with, but like all fibers it is not ideal for every project. For starters, 100% bamboo and bamboo silk and/or cotton blends tend to split easily making them less than ideal for beginning artists. They can even be a challenging stitch for intermediate artist and are best worked using wood or bamboo needles/hooks. Additionally, most bamboo yarns are hand wash only and do not lend themselves well to the creation of children’s clothing.

Great Adirondack Lolita Yarn: superwash merino/bamboo
photo property of yarn.com

Unlike bamboo fabric, bamboo yarn is readily available on the retail market. Chain craft stores and yarn shops usually have at least a small selection, while there are online stores that carry vast selections. Two of the best online selections I have found are Yarn and Bamboo Fabric Store. Buying on line will never replace to joy of wandering through a yarn shop, but it is a viable option when looking for specialty items. Whenever possible, choose to have your purchases delivered by the USPS. They have an impressive green initiative and their carriers will be stopping by your house six days a week anyway, so your delivery does not require the use of additional resources.

To read more about the properties of bamboo as a fiber read my archived post ’bout Bamboo.

Wearable Collections

The three “R”‘s…reduce, reuse, recycle….by now, every school child in the nation had them ingrained in their mind. Yet, the fashion/textile industry remains one of the most wasteful in existence. At the consumer level, there are very few options for American fashionistas wishing to participate in the final “r.” For the most part, it would seem that textile items past the stage of reuse are destined for the landfill.

Although their outreach is not nearly as vast as the UK’s wide-spread and highly efficient Wilcox, Wearable Collections has made a great start. Hopefully, they are just a hint of what is to come.

Slow Fashioned

One of my favorite slow fashion projects.

Do you ever wish you knew how to gauge your progress as an eco-fashionista? Of course, you are doing your best and constantly looking for the best options, but how well are you really doing? Try the Slow Fashioned Quiz to find out. This quiz asks simple, pertinent questions and gives some detailed feed back on what you are doing well and what you could do better. Take a few minutes to think over your results and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign the Slow Fashion Pledge.

Going Postal?

As an eco-fashionista, I know that buying local is usually the most environmentally sound decision, but let’s be real. Often times, what I want or need is not available on the local market. Since mail order companies usually have the most diverse selection of eco-friendly, sustainable clothing, I often find myself shopping on-line (not to mention that I am helplessly addicted to both etsy and ebay). This makes the issue of greener shipping very real to me.

Today while I was in line at the post office, I noticed a flier of the USPS new green movement. Not only have they recently issued a set of eco-advice stamps, but apparently have been working on their ecological footprint for a while now. There is an entire website dedicated to this initiative and I must admit that it is quite impressive. Everything from the day-to-day function of the postal service to the creation of shipping cartons is being ecologically improved. When considering the greenest shipping option the site makes this very valid point about fuel conservation, “When you order a product on online, choose the Postal Service to deliver it. We are already coming to your house 6 days a week so it’s not an extra trip for us.”

Now, shipping USPS is more than just a convenience issue. It may just be the most eco-friendly choice as well.

*Image is property of the USPS.

Statistic Saturday:Recycling

A weekly list of topical statistics.

According to the latest EPA report (released in 2009)

  • America has a 33.8% recycling rate
  • 60% of all paper products generated are recycled
  • only 7.1% of the plastic generated is recycled
  • recycling 1 ton of soda cans conserves 36 barrels of oil or 1,665 gallons of gasoline
  • an increase in recycling creates a decrease in carbon emissions
  • due to recycling, only 54% of America’s waste will end up in a landfill
  • T-shirt with this logo is available at Soul Harvest

    Its Not Raining…YET

    May starts the rainy season here in South Florida. By “rain” I don’t mean drizzle, I mean torrential down pour. Determined that I will not spend another rainy season slogging through dirty water with out the protection of rain boots, I did a bit of research. Like I said in an earlier post, rubber takes at least 1,000 years to decompose so I was naturally skeptical about buying a new pair of boots and I haven’t had much luck in that department at the thrift stores. The good news is, there are ways to recycle rubber. Although it isn’t picked up at curb side like glass, paper, and plastic most city recycling centers do accept rubber for recycling. Recycled rubber can be made into new consumer goods such as shoes and rubber matting or chipped to make playground mulch.

    Everyday Minerals Base

    My girlfriends at MaryJanes Farm and I were having a long conversation about mineral make-up when Everyday Minerals was mentioned. As a girl who wears very little make-up (mascara and lipstick), I was looking for a light base to smooth out my complexion a bit for a more polished overall look. The dilema being that I tend to hate the way standard foundation feels on my skin. To me, even the high-priced specialty brands start to feel like a coating of lard halfway through the day (not to mention some of their ingredients are a bit frightening). Since it was fairly unanimous that mineral make-up has a much nicer texture and holds up better in the humidity than standard make-up, I knew that I was looking in the right direction. When one of the girls mentioned that the brand she uses (Everyday Minerals) offers a free sample pack of their bases, I knew which line I was going to try first.

    Once on the Everyday Minerals site, it was extremely easy to find the free samples. Instead of being hidden in some out-of-the-way place, the offer is predominately displayed at the top of the homepage. Once on the page, you choose the color range that your skin tone falls into and add the sample to your basket. Included in the sample are five .03 oz jars of mineral base (one in each color of the range and in each of the four formulas available in the base). The first sample is always free (all you are asked to pay is the shipping) and additional samples are five dollars.

    When my sample order of five trial sized bases arrived I couldn’t wait to try them. despite the fact it was nearly midnight, I had to see how they were going to look. My enthusiasm was dampened a bit by the difficulty of opening the jars. The clear plastic film over the sifting holes was not only difficult to see, but impossible to remove without help from the tweezers. Once all of the jars were open, I lined them up on the counter and started applying little daubs to my face to determine my perfect color. The colors I had to choose from were sandy medium, medium tan, olive medium, light tan, and sandy tan. I quickly narrowed my colors down to either medium tan (semi matte) or sandy tan (matte) and proceeded to apply each to one half of my face. Over the larger area, I soon decided that the sandy tan was a bit too orange for my skin but continued with the application anyway. The base felt light and blended easily, leaving no make-up lines. The semi matte formula of the medium tan smoothed out the small flaws while still looking natural. Once I had applied my jesters mask of bases, I finished my make-up regime as usual with a sweep of bronzer (another recent addition by the recommendation of my stylist friend), mascara, and a deep raisin toned lipstick. I looked great, but the true test was yet to come.

    The next day, I really put Everyday Minerals to the test. I was going to work in a venue that had minimal air conditioning on a rather warm South Florida day. Although I always try to look professional, situations like this are usually the ones in which I avoid foundation type make-up at all costs. I applied medium tan base beneath my standard look and went about my day. To my surprise, I completely forgot I was wearing base. When I looked in the mirror at the end of the day, my face still looked smooth and clean with no caking or other ill effects of the humidity. These excellent results have been repeated three times now.

    In short…yes, I do recommend Everyday Minerals Base . The “negative” I have seen regarding this product in other reviews is it’s sheerness, which is exactly what I love about it. I do not look or feel like I am wearing gobs of make-up. In this product, I feel like myself and I feel beautiful.

    Not only is it a great product, the company providing it has a conscience as well. Everyday Minerals has signed with the Leaping Bunny Organization to verify their commitment to a cruelty free, no animal testing product. They also give back to their local Texas community by reaching out to women who have been victims of domestic violence.

    Photo Credits: All photos are property of EverydayMinerals http://www.everydayminerals.com

    For the Love of Feet!

    For the past month, shoe shopping has been the bain of my existence. Having graduated from college, I am forced to face the fact that living in my dearly loved Sanuk flip-flops is no longer acceptable. I am trying get the world to take me seriously as a freelance artist and business women while the only thing my flops take seriously is the beach. So, the trials begin.

    My demands in the shoe department leave even the most seasoned retail veterans cowering in the back corner of the storeroom. The shoe I want is eco-friendly and comfy (as my flops rather loudly suggest, I am a bit of a bum). Sounds easily enough, but that is just the beginning. I also need elegant and affordable. This is where the headache starts. Eco-friendly shoes that are elegant are rather expensive and those that I can afford are only available online, which means that I have no idea about the comfy factor.

    Sometimes, knowledge is a burden. No matter how hard I try, I simply can’t justify buying a new pair of standard of shoes. I use to tell myself it was ok since I honestly wear my shoes to death, but even a worn out pair of conventional shoes leaves a negative ecological imprint. The standard pair of shoes is created with a brand-new rubber sole that takes at least 1,000 years to decompose. Considering how many pairs of shoes the average person goes through in a life time, that fact is astounding.  Since I absolutely need shoes, I decided to do a bit of research to aid in making a wise decision in my next shoe purchase.

    leather: 24-40 years

    cork: 8-9 years

    canvas: 1 year

    wood: 8 weeks-2 months

    I know that the eco-friendly/sustainability issue goes much further than decomposition, but for now that is about as far as my budget will allow me to go.  I have been combing my favorite recycling facility (thrift store) for a like-new pair of suitable shoes in my size, but unless I hit pay dirt soon I will have to break down and make an informed purchase of conventionally made shoes.  Knowing that cork is a sustainable resource does make it more desirable than wood (dispite woods quick decomposition rate), so I will be looking for pair of cork wedges with a neutral colored canvas upper.  In the mean time, I am seriously doing some research on making my own shoes.