I was recently listening to PRI's The World, a radio program about current events and movements around the world, and my ears perked up when I heard them mention something called "slow fashion." Ever heard of it? No? Well, have you heard of slow food? Slow food is a push back at fast food. Slow food is about investing time and energy into food preparation and taking the time to enjoy it. And so slow fashion is...well, it's nothing like slow food really.
According to the story from The World, slow fashion emphasizes organic fibers, high quality construction, and fair wages. It's fashion that defies trends--the intent is for you to use and wear these garments for twenty years or more. Does that sound like an outrageous length of time to you? According to the story, most women wear an article of clothing only seven times before discarding it. Yeah, you read that right. Seven times! Who are these women?!?! I wear my clothes over and over and over again. I keep my clothes until they're so messed up I can't wear them anymore or until I can't wear them anymore because my belt line has shifted locations. :-/ I have been known to wear shoes until there are holes in the bottom, making the soles flop up and down, and I still only part with them reluctantly.
Okay, so maybe I'm not a fashion maven. In fact, the word "maybe" is a bit too generous: I am definitely NOT a fashion maven. But I do like to look nice...even if the attire I wear is not quite in fashion at the time.
Because slow fashion is of the highest quality (it's gotta be, right? How else would it last for 20+ years?!?!), it's also pricey. A plain t-shirt goes for $55, and a pair of socks is $20. *elephant-sized gasp* A pair of socks for $20! Good Lord! Who can afford those prices? Not a skinflint like me, that's for sure!
So here's an alternative--let's say you are interested in looking good and helping the environment by keeping perfectly good clothes from ending up in the city dump. And let's further say that you don't want to pay $55 for a t-shirt or $20 for a pair of socks. In fact, let's say you would actually like to get an entire wardrobe on the cheap. How can you do all that?
Pay a visit to your local thrift store!
You can actually go into a thrift store and for $30 or so, buy an entirely new wardrobe.
But, ew, you may recoil and say. Am I really telling you to buy and wear clothes that other people have worn and discarded? Well, yes, I am. I mean, it's not like I'm telling you to go digging through someone's trashcan and wear their old discarded newspapers with coffee grinds dripping off. And it's not like this stuff is dirty. Most (if not all) thrift shops actually do wash their donated clothes before they ever put them on the shelf. Once you get past the "ew" factor, I think you will actually be pleasantly surprised. Below, I've posted some pictures of several outfits I've purchased at thrift stores over the years. As you look at them, remember that I'm not a professional photographer, and I'm actually a pretty terrible picture-taker.
You can actually go into a thrift store and for $30 or so, buy an entirely new wardrobe. And since it's so cheap, you can change and add to your wardrobe constantly without breaking the bank. You may have to dig a little, of course, because while all thrift stores have great bargains, they also have mountains of clothing that you will find horrible. But don't give up, and remember that with each article of clothing you buy from a thrift store, you're helping Mother Earth!
So please, before you buy some polyester something online or at a store, consider thrift-shopping. Just give it a shot and see what you think.
"'Slow Fashion' Designers Tout Their Wares as Better for the Planet"
Read the original story that inspired me at PRI's The World.
"8 Awesome Thrift Store Items People Often Miss"
This article describes several treasures you can find at your local thrift store.
"10 Reasons Why Thrift Stores are Awesome"
This article lists several benefits of shopping at a thrift store.
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My experience working in public high schools has caused me to shake my head in dismay and declare that feminism is dead. I've seen too many girls who wear skirts so short their rear ends hang out and blouses whose necklines dart precariously toward their belly buttons. I've also known teen girls whose entire lives seem to revolve around their boyfriends, and when their relationships end, they trot like lemmings to the next guy who will have them.
Fortunately, not all girls are like that. Many of them fly under the radar because their lives are not sensationalized and they actually have self respect. Recently I had the pleasure of doing an email interview with one of them, 12-year-old Alyssa Dodd, the daughter of one of my very dear friends. Here is our exchange, my questions in bold and hers in regular font:
Based on what your mother has told me, conversations with you, and your online presence, you seem to be very interested in feminism. So I was wondering, what is your impression of feminism as a twelve year old? In other words, what does feminism mean to you?
To me, feminism is fighting for female human rights. No matter what skin color, sexual interests, or religion a person has.
Why do you think that females need someone to fight for them? Do you see examples in your own life (or in other places) where females' rights are compromised (i.e. abused)?
I think every female should fight for herself, but not all women think they need to. I do see examples in my life where women are oppressed. For example, a friend of mine who is a girl, wanted to help a teacher move some desks, but the teacher wouldn’t let her and chose boys. She is actually bigger and stronger than the boys chosen.
In 5th grade, the teachers took all the girls in my class aside and told them that they were causing problems by being so dramatic and that the boys never caused similar problems, which was not true.
What has influenced your views on feminism?
My main influences on my views of feminism are my mom and social media. I follow people on Instagram who share my interests and inspire me and I talk about everything with my mom.
What are your mother's views on feminism? How has she influenced your views?
She thinks girls shouldn’t have to prove themselves and that they should get the same respect boys do.
She has taught me a lot about sexism and what to do about it.
What do you see in social media regarding feminism?
I see all kinds of things on social media, things against racism, sexism, self-harm, beauty standards and more things.
What do your peers (your friends and classmates) think about feminism?
My peers strongly disagree with feminism. Mostly because they think some of it is against the bible.
In what ways do your peers think that feminism is against the Bible? Do you agree that it is against the Bible?
They think that feminism is against the bible because it also regards gay rights. I do not think that feminism is against the bible, because the bible also says to love all people, not hate and disrespect them.
What do your peers think about your ideas on feminism?
My peers do not like my ideas of feminism, mostly because they believe it is a movement for gay people’s rights too.
Why do they associate feminism with gay rights? I don't get it.
The reason they associate it with feminism is because it is for all women, not just straight women.
Do you think feminism is also a movement for gay rights?
I think a small part of feminism is also gay rights, but feminism is made up of a lot of things.
Why are they against gay rights?
I honestly think that the reason they are against gay rights is because they want to feel [like they are] better than other people.
How do you feel that your views on feminism might influence your future, such as your social life, your relationships, your career choices, and your life choices in general?
I want to be a powerful woman when I get older. I plan on becoming a lawyer. And I do not want to marry.
Thanks, Alyssa, for the interview!
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This summer I had the good fortune to be able to work with teenagers in the Upward Bound program. They were taking part in a six week stay at a local college campus, going to classes and experiencing what it’s like to be a real college student.
I was their computer teacher (in spite of the fact that my degree is actually in English, and I don’t really consider myself to be particularly tech savvy). For their first assignment, I asked the students to create a newsletter using inspirational quotes and stories from your website www.motivateus.com. If you remember, I had called to ask if you would mind if I did so, and you gave your permission. You also asked me to let you know how things went, so I am writing this letter to tell you a little about the class.
My themes for the course were inspiration, motivation, and activism, and I tried to create assignments that catered to those themes. For their Excel assignment, for example, I used facts and figures on world poverty from the World Bank and information about blood donation and disaster relief from the Red Cross. For another assignment, they were required to research information on a cause that interested them and write to their legislators about that topic. They wrote about obesity, teen drinking, medical marijuana, health care, and a variety of other things, and in the end, I did indeed send those letters to their legislators. In addition to these and other assignments, I read to them each day from the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris.
It is pretty obvious, as you can see, that I had an agenda. I didn’t just want to teach them how to use computer applications. I wanted to inspire them to make a change in the world and in themselves for the better. And I was pretty blatant about communicating this goal. The question is whether or not I had an impact on any of them.
Basically what I saw is that the students performed at a consistent level from the time they entered the class to the time they left. Those who worked hard did so from the time they entered to the time they left, and those that slacked and played on Facebook (yes, even in a program like Upward Bound, there are slackers) did so consistently throughout the six week period. So did I make an impact? Hmmm. Hard to say.
I will say that I made them think. And yes, I do use the word “made” consciously. I asked them questions about their beliefs, asked them how they were enacting those beliefs, asked them what “hard things” they faced, and asked them questions inspired by the Harris’ book.
Although it is difficult for a teacher to measure the impact she has on a student--especially when she sees those students for a very brief period during their young lives--I think it is important that we keep trying. At the very least, they know that there are people in this world who really do value passion, inspiration, and motivation, and I appreciate the fact that you have put your web site out there for everyone to see. Those of us who care should not remain silent. We need to communicate that message, whether through the internet or face to face.
So I would like to thank you sincerely for allowing us to use the material from your website for our classroom project. It started the class out on the right foot, and I hope that it helped inspire my students to, in a slight modification from the army’s motto, “be all they can be.”
Word and Book Lover.