The interdependence of our relationships to each other and to our environment never changes. The trappings of the modern world may transmogrify, and we may identify strongly with them, but they are only by-products of the relationships. We are our relationships. If we are to move towards a sustainable future, the real work may reside more within the area of human psychology than in technological advancement.
Small daily efforts made by ordinary people matter a great deal, but most don’t believe it. Sustainability issues loom large, and people feel powerless to affect them. Under the pervading cultural pressures we are conditioned to think that one must be famous, or rich, or affect thousands of people in one fell swoop for an effort to matter. Not true. Little things add up, fast. Everyone is making history, every day. Jane and Joe Schmoe have tremendous power, plus they are not as alone as they might feel. There are many groups who are blazing new trails with which to align and find support.
Fear is also a factor – it always accompanies feeling trapped – because taking sustainable actions often means choosing outside the mainstream, and definitely so when it comes to clothes. It takes courage to go against the grain, and that courage should be honored. Sustainable efforts should help people feel good about the choices they make, and those choices should be easy. Attempts to cajole people with guilt to choose differently are not only ineffective, they miss the point.
The process of creating custom clothes, of sculpting around a particular body and engaging with a person’s particular emotions, needs, personality, and their own creative impulses, is hardly about the clothes at all. It is about about helping each unique person get closer to him- or herself. And in so doing, we can not help but get closer to each other.
As I demonstrate to my clients that I am listening to them, understanding their needs, and acting on that understanding, they better appreciate what I do as a clothes-maker, plus it inspires creativity within the clients themselves. Creativity is the antidote to boredom, envy and apathy, pinching off three avenues to consumption addiction. In such an atmosphere, value begins to trump money as the prime asset for the consumer, and those cheap items sold in stores that everyone else is buying become a bit less appealing. Making sustainable products and then trying to convince people to buy them is backwards. It is through cultivation of high-value relationships that sustainable products and processes will naturally develop.