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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   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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