Some years ago, after I started cleaning up my diet a bit and trying to remove some of the processed stuff that I leaned on too hard, it wasn't long before I started eyeing my closet nervously. If I was concerned about toxic food, shouldn't I also be investigating the ramifications dyes, processes and chemicals used in finishing fabrics and leather? I was scared to know the answer, because I have always loved clothes and shoes, but I had to be honest with myself. When I wore a shirt, it was touching my body just as much as the organic food beauty products I sought.
When I removed a shirt from its regular rotation in my closet, it often went to goodwill. There is no way that all items given to Goodwill always get used by other people, so many of them probably still go into the ground, whether or not I put my shirt directly into the bin. Patagonia is a company that has been a leader in thinking about the impact, and the afterlife, of their clothing, with their "Footprint Chronicles" and their Common Threads Initiative, and even their recommendations that we buy less and use what we buy longer. But I struggle with the sporty style; it does not come naturally to me. So what to do?
At the time I began thinking about this, there was not very much information available about the supply chain of clothing companies. I read everything I could find, but was often disappointed; most fashion people are not authors; they are visual people, not necessarily into crafting the written word, or researching the science behind a textile.
I have recently finished a book that does bridge this gap. Business owners and academics weighed in, back in 2007, as it turns out, but it took me a little while to find it. Future Fashion White Papers is well-written, with articles by business owners, professors, and other fashion industry professionals.
It contains information about fibers, production methods, business models and regulatory systems for the supply chain that people are working on in order to clean up the toxic wake left by the fashion industry. It speaks honestly to the flaws in our over-consumptive system, without leaving the reader hopeless or guilty. It's a strong resource for anyone interested in tracing the timeline of their clothing, especially if you are curious what happens after you give your shirt to Goodwill.