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I blog about sustainable fashion, earth-friendly fibers like hemp and Tencel, capsule wardrobes, travel wear, and related subjects.
As an advocate for hemp clothing, Sympatico was recently featured on KTVL News 10 in Medford, Oregon. The resulting story by reporter Felicia Le’Cher is part of a series the station produces called “In the Weeds.” With most of the hemp being produced in our area intended to meet the burgeoning demand for CBD, I saw the series as a great chance to expand public awareness of hemp as a textile.
Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years, and traditionally every part of the plant has been used. Its fibrous outer layers were historically used for rope, paper and sails. Its medicinal properties have been well known for millennia too; as just one example, midwives have used hemp teas to ease childbirth in many cultures. Today, industrial hemp is turning up in everything from home building materials to sound-deadening panels in autos.
Given my couple of minutes of fame, I wanted to stress all the advantages of hemp clothing while also explaining a little about how hemp fibers are produced. I also wanted to touch on hemp’s legal problems in the past. As I explain in the clip, hemp was outlawed right along with its cousin, marijuana, in 1937. The US government made no distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana until 2018 when cultivation of hemp was finally made legal again. Until that momentous change, hemp was in effect lumped together with marijuana as a forbidden Class 1 narcotic—the same designation given heroin!
In comparing the processing of cotton and other fibers to hemp, I point out that hemp is bleached using a hydrogen peroxide solution. Those other fibers are treated with chlorine-based bleaches that release dangerous dioxins into the environment. The solution used to scrub hemp is safely returned to the environment as water. And unlike cotton, industrial hemp is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Much of hemp’s initial processing is accomplished directly in the fields in a natural process known as retting.The wet fiber is allowed to break down in the fields before being transported to mills for further processing. And unlike cotton, which quickly exhausts soils due to its nutrient-rich demands, hemp actually helps aerate and restore bioactivity in soil.
A further advantage of hemp clothing is its amazing durability. After all, this is the same stuff from which windjammer sails and gold miners’ pants were made. But even when hemp clothes have finally become too threadbare to wear, they’ll naturally biodegrade back into the earth. (I’ve even used Sympatico fabric rags as a mulch to suppress weeds in the garden.)
Contrast that with the production and lifetime impact of fabrics such as polyester, made from petrochemicals. Not only is their manufacture and dyeing highly toxic to the environment, each time they’re washed, synthetic fabrics release millions of microfibers that are polluting our rivers and oceans. I recently blogged about microfiber pollution— it’s a rapidly developing ecological disaster.
The hemp content in Sympatico women’s wear is blended with Tencel, another sustainable fiber that’s produced without environmental damage. Tencel, which is made in a closed-loop manufacturing system, adds a beautiful drape and hand to the fabric while also helping protect our planet’s ecosystems. You can learn more about the unique hemp/Tencel blend used in Sympatico clothing here.
Earth Day and the 2013 Rana Plaza building collapse: What is the thread these two events share? They’re part of a relentless movement to make the world a safer and healthier place for everyone. Yes, Rana Plaza was an enormous tragedy, but the deaths and injuries suffered by thousands of Bangladeshi workers shed light on the true costs [...]
Those of us who seek out organic foods have been dismayed by recent attempts to weaken certification standards. We’re concerned that the very word “organic” will follow the path of “natural” and “green,” ultimately becoming meaningless.A similar problem exists where clothing textiles are concerned. Some fibers touted as eco-friendly, such as rayon made from [...]
A well chosen skirt or two can make terrific travel wear or become essential elements in your capsule wardrobe at home.If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’m a big fan of casual skirts for travel. In fact, I recently put up a Pinterest travel clothing board here to help spread the word [...]
Why hemp clothing? Because it fells good on your body and it’s good for the earth.When the 2018 Farm Bill was passed by the US congress late last year, you might have expected hemp advocates to breathe a deep sigh of relief. After all, for the first time at the federal level, the bill differentiated [...]
I spent January in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, and it proved a perfect chance to put some of the tips that have appeared in Travel Tales posts to a(nother) real-world test. Teeming and tropical, “Jogja,” as the locals call it, is the cultural heart of Java. It’s also home to my daughter and her husband who love [...]
The simple elegance of a Black Princess Top with Grey Fog Stovepipe Pants is at home in nearly any setting.It's a truism that often the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, and I’ve found that’s especially true when it comes to artfully coordinating shades for pleasing combinations. One of the more challenging and interesting parts [...]
The Princess Top in Bayleaf coordinates beautifully with most of my other shades.In zeroing in on my newest color, I was looking for a complex of tones that draws from both the earth and its vegetation. The resulting fusion makes Bayleaf a very wearable shade, one that’s versatile too. Bayleaf looks great in Tops, Skirts, and Pants.A pair [...]
Made of an earth-friendly hemp and Tencel blend, the Princess Top minimizes your environmental footprint.Textile production and apparel dyeing turn up on worldwide top-10 lists of the most polluting industries. For that reason, I applaud consumers who go out of their way and spend more to purchase organic clothes. Doing so helps protect our environment and improve [...]
Vintage Rose is my newest shade and it gets along famously with a wide swathe of other Sympatico colors.
As with all styles, the Tuxedo Top and Stovepipe Pants use low-impact, fiber-reactive dyes.The slightly muted quality of Vintage Rose makes it easy to wear and coordinate with a broad range of shades. The somewhat dusty tone is enhanced by hemp/Tencel’s linen-like texture that drapes prettily thanks to the Tencel content. As with all Sympatico shades, Vintage Rose is [...]