A clothing activist's sage advice—and a hole in her logic
Mitten clap to Laura J., who sent this Guardian article, "Feed Your Moths and Hide Your Trousers: The Expert's Guide to Making Clothes Last Forever", by Hannah Mariott.
The piece profiles Orsola de Castro, fashion designer, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, an organization dedicated to the responsible acquisition and maintenance of clothes, and author of the book "Loved Clothes Last" (Penguin Books).
As Mariott writes, "She advocates 'radical keeping'... the only antidote to throwaway culture is to keep."
She has a novel approach to donation: "...before donating to thrifts (which receive more far clothes than they can sell), consider gifting them to friends or family." The idea is to adopt it out rather than pass on the problem to thrifts, who end up sending much of it to landfills.
|Visible mending by Tom of Holland|
I felt kinship, gratitude, admiration, and validation for wearing my decades-old cashmeres. However, despite all her excellent strategies (be a more discerning buyer; don't over-clean; 'hide' your clothes (my version is the clothing furlough); embellish the imperfections (visible mending); don't upcycle— she has one dreadful piece of advice:
"Keep a sacrificial old jumper or ball of yarn in a fabric moths will love that can get chewed in your wardrobe while your other knits remain intact."
This is like saying, "Throw a tulip bulb into your garden beds and the squirrels will leave your flowers and seedlings alone."
Moths do not think, "Oh, look, Marcie has left us a lovely sweater, we wouldn't dream of hitting that silk blouse she's saving for good." Larvae are hungry little opportunists (mature moths that you see flying do not feed); who knows how sentient they are, but they are not making judgement calls.
Feeding means breeding
She says, "I feed my moths like I feed my cats." Hang on; her cats are neutered. (If not, I assume she is arranging regular adoptions.) De Castro's advice will yield more moths—and no one wants pick of the litter. Her tactic accelerates the inevitable: a miserable, expensive infestation. Over the past 40 years I have had mothless periods, but the usual is a grim, sustained battle. Climate change has made moth problems worse, no matter where you live.
But let's not throw the baby in her sweetly-patched layette out with the bathwater. De Castro has a bold, encouraging and informative approach. I'm ordering her book and continuing to fight the fast-fashion, disposable mind-set.
And the moths.