Earth matters and Bernie Rowen-Ross urges us to slow down and consider how we treat our planet. We need to think more deeply about the simple things in life – such as what we wear.

What are you wearing today? Have a look. Start at your feet, are you wearing shoes, are they cloth, leather, plastic or a mixture? Where do they come from, what is their exact footprint? Do the shoes have laces? Where were they made, do you know the man who designed the aglet (the little plastic or metal end on your shoelace that keeps the fibres together)? Harvey Kennedy invented this wonderfully useful item in 1790. Before that, shoelace ends were dipped in wax so they would not fray. Should we now use cotton, soya or beeswax to keep the ends neat? It’s a difficult question, because there are few carbon neutral methods for eliminating plastic completely.

So, what are you wearing? Is it a synthetic fibre or sustainably produced cotton, silk, or wool? Where was your clothing manufactured – China, India, Turkey, South Africa, France or the UK? Have you seen how the fabric was woven? Does what you wear have a history; is it five months old, five years old or did you buy it this week? Is it new because it is the latest spring fashion? 

What colour are you wearing? Did you know that most of the dyes used worldwide are toxic to sea, animals and land? Pause for a moment. We buy clothing and expect it to be colour-fast. Imagine how difficult it is to clear any residue from the dyeing factory’s effluent water, which incidentally is often pumped into our sea and the rivers. When we think more deeply about the simple things in life – what we wear and eat every day, we know there is a different way to help Mother Earth.

I have a skirt I made from ethically-sourced raw silk (silk noil). I dyed it with eucalyptus, rose,  viburnum leaves and vinegar (so the dye would take). I tied the leaves into the fabric and steamed it for two hours. Unwrapping the bundle when it was cool was like opening a wondrous gift! The imprints of the leaves and twigs made beautiful patterns on the fabric. My skirt cost the price of the material and some heat, the rest was a gift from nature. I did not create a huge amount of wastewater with poison dyes, plus I had many hours of pleasure making my skirt and even more years of wear. This spring, I will re-purpose one of my husband’s old shirts into an apron. It will be dyed with leaves, little stitches will be sewn around the patterns and I will have poetry on the large pockets. One of the pockets will hold my dreams and a notebook.

So, next time you get dressed or buy something new, think of our planet. Can you make the item yourself? Can you buy better-quality garments that will last longer and values fair treatment of people, animals and our planet. Join the folk who say “There is no planet B”.

Bernie Rowen-Ross is a Psychotherapist, Sound Healer and Astrologer, she works from THE BAREFOOT SANCTUARY
45 Melbourne Place, North Berwick | t: 01620 844 321

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