Green jeans, and body bibs for all

Dear Uma: In recent years, advertising has become so pervasive most of us have developed a blind eye to it, forcing those in the business of selling to get more and more creative in their endeavours to get us to pay attention to what is being offered.

Dear Uma:

In recent years, advertising has become so pervasive most of us have developed a blind eye to it, forcing those in the business of selling to get more and more creative in their endeavours to get us to pay attention to what is being offered.

With this unrelenting push to inform us about what is for sale I have long been puzzled about the stubbornness of manufacturers in refusing us the information we ask for while inundating us with a flood of information for which we have no use or desire.

I am far more interested in knowing whether or not my tomatoes have been genetically modified than being told Jennifer Aniston drinks bottled water.

Speaking of water, I now know a lot more about my new jeans that I might never have known if I’d had something to read while sitting on the toilet the other day. You will remember how much I used to enjoy reading in the bathroom; you declared it to be one of my less endearing habits in the days we shared living quarters, and discussion of the matter caused some friction between us. Until Lari moved in with us you swore there was not another person in the world who read in the bathroom. Hah! You were so wrong.

My jeans, it turns out, were manufactured in Egypt, a fact that would not have caught my attention if it weren’t for the riots in that country that are the main feature of every newscast these days.

Printed on the front pocket material was the message: “The water used in the process of washing and dyeing these jeans has been specially treated to ensure it is safe and clean when it leaves the factory.”

Here was something I had never before considered when buying jeans; here was a new world to explore and that is what I did, going directly from turning on the fan to turning on the computer.

Did you know 42 litres of water are used in the making of one pair of jeans and that the water cost is increased to 3,500 litres by people laundering them far more than necessary?

Although none of the other brands are making the claim of cleaning the water before releasing it into the wild, Levi’s is getting on the ecowagon with the declaration that its new brand, WATERLESS, is the result of years of research on how to achieve the battered, hard worn look consumers desire without using water.

In order to make the denim look old and battered they use only rocks now, whereas in the bad old days they would use rocks and water to distress their material. This is the sort of news that, despite my resolve, gives me hope for the future; research dollars being spent on a worthy cause.

It is heartening to know that there are scientists hard at work in labs all over the world coming up with more sustainable ways to distress fabric. The depth of thought and imagination it must have taken to come up with such an innovative solution to beating up denim simply boggles the mind. I’ll bet it is those same researchers who figured out how to bash up leather, too.

I must confess the fashion statement made by these fabrics is not one I am able to understand. People are getting fatter and fatter and less and less active while their clothes are made to look as though they spend their days riding the range, felling tall trees or welding heavy metal instead of lolling on a couch or sitting at a desk.

When will some fashion-forward designer come up with body bibs?

This is a look that could be made to be flattering and fun for all, as well as being functional.

Body bibs would be manufactured using the ever-trendy faded and torn denim, naturally, we mustn’t waste the time and money spent in achieving that fabric, but the bib look could also be fashioned in a variety of other materials and patterns; camouflage for fat survivalists, leather for fat bikers, sequined for roly-polies with showbiz aspirations, skull patterned for blobby teenagers, polyester prints for seniors to name a few examples.

For the few remaining slender people, body bibs could come with belt loops, or a few strategically-placed darts. They would be designed to be wiped clean, thus saving laundering, and have reinforced seats, which would be much more realistic than the reinforced knees presently found on many patterns.

The body bib would feature many pouches and pockets, with the more pricey ones having insulated spaces for keeping snacks hot or cold. The ubiquitous hood, popular with youth, could finally be made useful for something other than hiding teenage acne and greasy hair; the edge of the hood rolled to form a tube from which would come a constant supply of soft drinks.

From covering my work surface with sketches of body bib designs, it seemed a natural progress to find myself going back to the computer, moving from reading about new clothes being made to look old while being eco friendly to discovering a story about a town outside of London, UK, which will be heating their new sports centre and swimming pool with heat from a nearby crematorium.

This somewhat macabre system will save the town more than $100,000 as well as boost their environmental cred. It has the added distinction of being entirely sustainable as there will always be people dying. Here is another opportunity for the body bib; one made for swimming, and there’d be no need for flotation devices as fat folks float just fine.

Continuing the green theme, I note an article declaring gays to be more green than straights. This is because they are already advocates for social change, being gay, and are mostly urban – areas that are hotbeds of enviro ideas and lifestyles.

Also, we are told, gay people tend to be more conscientious and open-minded than the rest of us, and so tend to vote progressively.

I forwarded this piece to Lari and also to Gordon, neither of whom make the slightest effort to combine green with their gay, though they do vote progressively and are fervent fans of denim in all its forms. I sent them my idea for the body bib. Though neither one of them is overweight, Gordon does work in the business of fashion and may recognize the marketability of the idea.

I also sent them the newsletter of the Out of the Closet Queer Sustainability Society based in Victoria, BC. This organization has opened a volunteer-staffed store called the Out of the Closet Renew Boutique, which is a clever play of words to describe a secondhand store as well as being a way to trick people into being green. Fashionability has proved to be the best saleability feature of almost anything, including items made for the sustainability market; witness the celebrity-driven Prius, faux fur and the coffee beans picked from cat poop.

It all leaves me feeling a bit sad for Watson Lake and its rural limitations.

One can be whatever one wishes here, so long as no one knows about it. Being an out greenie would be hard; being an out gay might very well be dangerous and being a known gay greenie would be positively incendiary.

So far, I am still one of the three people in Watson Lake aware that we have a hermaphrodite who dances with wolves living among us. S/he has resided here for years and years; a pillar of the community and friend to the local rich and the politically meaningful. How I came to be one of the three who knows the secret of this most unusual person is another story and one that I will share with you as soon as I am able to clear it with the others involved in protecting this knowledge from becoming public.

Not only are gays greener than heterosexuals, but women are more likely to believe in climate change than men. This is because men are all about detachment, control and mastery, whereas women are all about attachment, empathy and care. It all begins to sort of hang together somehow, doesn’t it?

And just when I am getting to a happy place with this recognition of the ultimate interconnectedness of everything, I find a video about women who trade their kids for Hermes handbags and everything crumbles back into a stew of confusion.

I am getting back to work now; enough of this chasing odd bits of news and trying to weave them into a recognizable and comforting whole.

The best thing to come out of this entire morning is less laundry.



Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.

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