#GoneGreen2016 | Day 126 / 365

Around the time I started blogging full-time, my friend Natalie (from Sustainably Chic) e-introduced me to a lady who had made a dress from entirely salvaged materials. 

She didn't do it to make a fashion statement, she did it to make a point, that you can, with a little creativity, waste not when you produce products, fashion or otherwise.

The lady, who's name is Erin West has never worked in the fashion industry, she is a Financial Aid Manager for Aveda Institute. She was inspired to make this piece after being deeply impacted by the documentary film, Racing Extinction

The dress you see me wearing in this post is the one she made, which likely took her weeks to design, collect materials for, and create. Sure, it's not something you might be keen to wear on your next grocery shop nor your next girl's night out, but it serves as a symbol of the possibilities available to us, of the effect inspiration can have when educated through the right sources, and of a form of activism that doesn't need to shake the internet, but quietly and subtly sinks in.

Self-education is the key to activism activation. Part of saving this planet is staying informed, supporting activist groups you believe in, and, when inspiration strikes, becoming an activist yourself. Most of us don't have time to read a hand full of informational articles daily, but we do have enough time to watch an informative documentary weekly. 

The medium of video is by far the most effective way of disseminating information, as more of your senses are engaged than can be through the written word alone. 

I've gotten in the habit of watching ted talks or documentary films while I work out in some desperate form of multi-tasking in an effort to remain inspired to write these posts by injecting myself with new information and alternative ideas and ideals. Most of the time, I can digest the horrors our society offers the planet and her inhabitants as conventional practice in support of commerce without flinching. I process frustrating facts daily and have come to find ways of dealing with the emotions my rhetoric focus brings. I can put myself into a certain state of mind in order to receive the information so I might work out my opinions of it calmly throughout the day; instead of reacting to it emotionally, as I often used to do, with tears, anger and frustration.  

A few weeks back I was taking advantage of my husfriend's free hotel room in La Rochelle. He got a part playing an astronaut in a French TV series called Open Spaces, and I followed him down to enjoy France's southern sun. While he was shooting, I decided to exercise on the terrace where we were staying to catch some sunshine before I locked myself infront of the computer indoors for the rest of the day. I decided to put on the documentary True Cost while I did it, so I might listen and learn while I pumped that sweet iron. I had been hired by a magazine to write a piece about Rana Plaza and I needed some fuel for my soul to make my rhetoric worth reading. 

I think the mechanicalness of exercise helps me to focus, it's a sort of moving meditation where I'm only counting and moving so I can dedicate the rest of my energy to watching and listening. I'm not really thinking, just absorbing. So in this state, I began watching, as I simultaneously squatted and pressed as dictated by my workout app, tanning my pasty skin in the sun's rays. 

Being already well aware of the truly soulless state of the fashion industry, I didn't expect to find myself out of breath and fighting a fit of tears twenty minutes later, pacing back and forth with one hand over my eyes and the other on my hip trying to hold myself together as people passed by in the parking lot inconveniently situated in front of our terrace. 

Hearing the words from the matter-of-fact yet shaking voice of 23-year-old Bangladeshi garment factory worker and single mother, Shima, who makes the equivalent of $10 a month working in a factory full-time, and who was severely beaten for attempting to improve the unsafe working conditions of the factory she works in and demand a living wage. Watching this woman smile through her tears as she recounted the truth behind her life, the price she and the rest of factory workers pay for our throw away clothes, working in hot, chemical-ridden, structurally unsound environments, and listening to the effects this job has on her life, her child, and her ability to parent, broke my damn heart.

There were also the visuals of the environmental aftermath caused by toxins used to farm cotton and tan leather which have caused severe disabilities among already impoverished populations in places like Punjab, India. 

The sounds of gunshots and hectic capture of a scene in which Cambodian workers protesting for fair wages were opened fire on by police.

Victims of Rana Plaza recounting the events which lead to 1,500 deaths and injuries of thousands more.

It was hearbreakingly overwhelming. Just the pain of these people alone. But then to hear those who share my accent soullessly justifying the cost by the selfish benefits generated for our culture sent me over the edge. It boggled my mind that people existed who genuinely believe their lives are more important than the lives of others, like Queen Douchette, Kennedy Nation from Fox News who said:

"is it possible, that sweatshops are actually good, yes horrible aweful the word itself sweatshop it envokes terrible images of poor people and children suffering in 3rd world countries slaving away in awful conditions to make products for us selfish Americans and thank you, whhhaaaatttt? *holds up her iphone

or Kate Ball-Young, former sourcing manager of Joe Fresh stating:

"Does it bother me that people are working in a factory making clothes for Americans or for you know Europeans, that that's how they're spending their lives? Is that what you're kind of asking me? -(documentary maker: "yes") - "No, I mean, you know, they're doing a job, there's a lot worse things they could be doing".

When you see, listen, comprehend and feel, put faces to stories from both sides, you can't ignore it. Educating yourself has to go beyond logical comprehension of facts and sink deep into the pits of your compassion in order for you to truly understand how awful this circle of harm is for humanity as a whole. In order for you to truly feel empathetic and adjust your actions accordingly so you can't be held guilty for contributing to another's pain.

So implore you, put aside whatever chunk you can of your time towards educating yourself on the various issues, from the ethics of fashion, the ecology of the earth, the acidity of the oceans, deforestation, conservation, corruption, politics, whatever your passions may be. 

Though you may not know it or want to, this world is in a pretty startiling state and whatever your passion or motivation, it is important to find one and get involved in so you might make your mark on this planet in a positive way. We can’t individually make a difference in every facet of eco and ethical warrior-ship, but we can definitely make a difference in at least one.

Below are some of my favourites to get you started, would love any suggestions of more in the comments below:

True Cost (netflix)
Fed Up! (youtube / netflix / amazon)
The Cove (amazon)
Blackfish (on netflix)