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Thursday, April 15 2021
Earth Care X Fashion

Be Healthy. Be Green. Committee Earth Month Blog Series
By Stephanie Heifner

Whether we consider ourselves into fashion or not, we all wear clothing. Our skin is constantly in contact with this material that protects our bodies and lets us express who we are. The impact of the clothes we choose goes beyond a fashion statement, because they came from somewhere, were made by someone, profit someone, and go somewhere after we’re done with them. The fashion industry has huge problems, including unsafe labor conditions, unfair wages, pollution from dyes and chemical treatments, and waste.

12.8 million tons of clothing are sent to landfills in the US every year. --Ayesha Barenblat, founder at Remake

Whatever your style, maybe you will find some inspiration in the following examples.

Photo: headshot courtesy of Emily Stochl.

Local writer/podcaster/blogger/activist and Coe College alumna, Emily Stochl has turned her interest in fashion and sustainability into a living with a focus on second-hand and vintage clothes. “My journey with sustainability began with a love of thrifting and later on watching the documentary, The True Cost. This spark led me to start Pre-Loved Podcast in 2018.” (source)

The True Cost film was made after the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed over 1,130 people and injured 2,500 more on April 24, 2013. The collapse drew attention to the working conditions of garment workers around the world. The film has been deeply impactful for many who were prompted to join the conscious fashion community. (Including myself! Jonathan and I saw the film when Emily teamed up with Czech Village vintage shop Found + Formed to facilitate a screening of the film at Cedar Rapids Downtown Library.)

As creator and host of Pre-Loved Podcast, she interviews makers, sellers, activists, and more on all things second-hand and vintage fashion. She’s interviewed major parties in the secondhand space like Depop and Buffalo Exchange, as well as vintage staples like Amarcord Vintage and A Current Affair, and vintage and secondhand sellers from around the world, including: Paris; Cancún; Accra, Ghana; Lima, Peru; Helsinki, Finland; Brussels, Belgium, and even Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

She’s also an Advocacy Manager with Remake, “a community of fashion lovers, women rights advocates, and environmentalists on a mission to change the industry’s harmful practices on people and our planet,” through education, advocacy, and transparency. (source) Emily constantly pushes toward fair pay for garment workers using her online platforms to share information about legislation, petitions, and other campaigns we can all get behind. Honestly, she makes it easy for the rest of us. One thing I really love about Emily is her passion is contagious, and she makes caring exciting.

You can find Emily’s blog and info on Pre-Loved Podcast at

Pre-Loved Podcast can be found anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Follow her Instagram at .

Photo: Portrait of Rachel Maker, photographed by Taylor Webster

Local maker and co-owner of Found + Formed shop, Rachel Maker studied Textiles and Apparel at UNI. She uses her skills and creative nature to design, sew, and embellish clothing and other items, some of which can be found in the shop. In what I think is a brilliant move, Rachel screenprints her original designs on used t-shirts.

“From cotton seed to a cut and sewn t-shirt, 700 gallons of clean water are used. That is for one t-shirt. I print on a thrifted shirt to challenge that,” Rachel said in an Instagram post. “There are so many major problems regarding transparency in the fashion industry--gender inequality, child labor, pesticide runoff, deadly work conditions, etc. Fashion is killing our planet and its people. The beauty in knowing this is the ability to change. To create cleaner and smarter. Every small step you take to conserve energy and fight for the equality of people is a small wave that ripples across our planet. And any time you share what you know with someone else- this effect continues and strengthens.”

One of Rachel’s popular designs is the “Respect Our Mother” tee, which you can find at Found + Formed, 65 16th St SW, in Czech Village.
Find Rachel Maker on Instagram at .

Photo: “Respect Our Mother” t-shirt, courtesy of Rachel Maker

Photo: St. Paul’s first mending party in 2019

In 2019, Be Healthy. Be Green. Committee hosted two mending parties in the Annex. With the rise of cheap, ready-made clothing, mending has become something of a lost art. However, it has grown in popularity along with the ethical fashion and environmental movement--and so have mending parties. Why a party? Because of course it’s more fun to visit with friends while you work, and also you can share skills with each other.

Why mend? Mending is an act of valuing the things that we have. It’s an act of gratitude, of recognizing the worth of the material, the human labor, and the resources that went into making them. Taking care of our things and extending their useful life means we can buy less, and save water, carbon emissions, landfill space, and money. When I darn a well-worn favorite shirt, I’m also preserving its stories--and mine.

The pandemic has put a hold on mending parties for the time being, but in my time of isolation, I have been tackling our preschooler’s holey jeans. I’ve been embracing the “visible mending” trend. Visible mending, as opposed to trying to keep it not noticeable, makes a statement. A statement like, “Well-loved things have value.” “I want to keep my clothes out of the trash.” “I want to show a different way.”

Additionally, mending allows me to slow down. To develop sewing skills, understand materials, and appreciate the people who made them.

If you’d like to get in on the action, keep an eye out for future mending parties at St. Paul’s, and in the meantime, check the public library for books on mending, or dig out your sewing supplies and get practicing.

Photo: Stephanie’s mended toddler jeans

Stephanie Heifner is a lay member of St. Paul’s and co-chair of Be Healthy. Be Green. Committee. Besides mending Charles’ pants, Stephanie has embraced conscious fashion by shopping secondhand when possible and learning to sew her own clothes.

Posted by: Stephanie Heifner AT 11:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, April 14 2021
Earth Care

April is Earth Month, with Earth Day on April 22. The purpose of naming this time is to celebrate this amazing world that is our home, and to drive positive action for the care of our planet.

Why does this matter to Christians?

The Bible begins with the story of Creation. Our Creation story tells us that what God created, God calls good. I believe humans are meant to be stewards of the Earth, not conquerors, not owners: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants too.” Psalm 24:1 (CEB) John Welsey, the founder the Methodist movement said in a sermon:

The great lesson that our blessed Lord inculcates here…is that God is in all things, and that we are to see the Creator in the glass of every creature; that we should use and look upon nothing as separate from God…but with a true magnificence of thought survey heaven and earth and all that is therein as contained by God in the hollow of his hand, who by his intimate presence holds them all in being, who pervades and activates the whole created frame, and is in a true sense the soul of the universe. (Sermon 23, “Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, III” I.11, 1748)

Faithful Earth-Care

If nothing is separate from God, we ought to regard the environment, the creatures in it, the materials we extract, and the possessions we own with gratitude. And let us not forget the people. There are numerous scripture texts that instruct followers to care for the most vulnerable people--widows, immigrants, “the least of these.” (Matthew 25:31-40, Deuteronomy 24:19, to name a few.) In our time, some of the most vulnerable populations are those impacted the most by climate change and pollution. Those who are or will become climate refugees. Those subject to environmental racism, such as people of color whose neighborhoods are located next to industrial pollution. Therefore, Christians must respond to issues of environmental justice and the climate emergency.

In this blog series, I will be highlighting people from our church or community who have found ways to be earth-friendly in ways that coincide with their passions and ways of being. Beyond lists of do’s and don’ts, and tips and tricks, I hope you will be encouraged to look for places where care of the earth intersects with your areas of interest or the things you already do in your life.

Look out soon for posts to come on Earth-Care x Fashion, Travel, Technology, and more.

Stephanie Heifner is a lay member of St. Paul’s UMC and co-chair of Be Healthy. Be Green. Committee.

Posted by: Stephanie Heifner AT 12:06 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email

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