A Plea for Hemp

Years ago I was on a trip in the northwest of the Netherlands with my family. During one of our walks we passed a field with a very tall crop. Strangely enough, its tops looked exactly like those of a cannabis plant. As these are not uncommon in the Netherlands, we joked about the revenue their farmer must make. I remember there was a big sign on one side of the field that explained this was industrial hemp. When I looked it up back then, I found out that even though it was indeed a version of the cannabis plant, it contained too little THC to provide intoxication when consumed. While learning more about sustainable fashion, hemp keeps popping up as a very promising material. Still, it doesn’t seem to be commonly used at all. I decided to do a little research and it turns out that this amazing plant has a rich and political history.

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Why It Is Still So Hard To Recycle Our Clothes

The fashion industry is struggling with a huge waste problem. And even though recycling is totally normal to us, recycling clothes is not something that we necessarily consider. Sadly, only 1-10% of clothes that we donate is actually resold and a big part of it ends up in landfills or incinerators. Donating your clothes is NOT recycling them (read my article on what happens to our donated clothes here). Though I believe that the most important way to change the fashion industry is for us consumers to buy less, I also think that a sustainable industry is a circular one. The production of textiles is draining our planet, while their destruction is polluting it. Circularity could drastically decrease both problems. Recycling plays a pivotal role in creating a circular system. Why then, are we not recycling?

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My thoughts on wearing (second-hand) leather

I used to think it was fine to wear second-hand leather. Over the years I bought some amazing leather and suede skirts in thrift shops. Truth be told, I also own a leather jacket which I bought new some ten years ago and I still buy the occasional pair of leather shoes. However, when I would see somebody in a fur coat, I would be shocked. Even if I knew it was second-hand. A conversation I had a while back made me reconsider this. Why should a second-hand fur coat be different from brand new leather shoes? I couldn’t convince myself of an answer. Ever since, I’ve been wanting to look further into this topic to create a well-informed opinion. Fortunately, leather was elaborately discussed last week in the course ‘Fashion and Sustainability’ that I’m taking, by the London College of Fashion. A great opportunity for me to learn more and share my thoughts with you.

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Manifesto

I grew up in the North-West of Europe, in the Netherlands to be precise, where capitalism and consumerism have been leading principles since the nineties. Me and my sisters must have shared over twenty barbies and every birthday and Christmas there’d be piles of gifts to unpack. Buying cheap clothing was the accompanying norm. I would go and buy clothes with my friends during school breaks. We’d have small budgets and want to buy a lot, so we’d only go to fast-fashion chains like H&M, Coolcat, Bershka and later Primark. We didn’t consider the quality of garments, or how often we would wear them. At the time, we didn’t know any better.

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Organic vs Sustainable (or Responsible) Cotton

Hema is a Dutch brand where I love to buy my undergarments. It has been a household name in Netherlands for decades, known for its nice stores and good quality products. Most garments either have a label that says ‘biological cotton’, or ‘responsible cotton’. This gave me the impression that my undies were honestly and sustainably produced. The other day I was in one of the stores and my eye fell on these labels again. I wondered: what is the difference between biological and responsible cotton?

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