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The Beach Can Teach

Since my one-year anniversary of wearing only local or repurposed clothing, I have felt somewhat aimless.

At a NC beach knitting a sweater for a friend and relaxing!

I have floundered and wondered where my next adventure would take me. I defined myself this past year by wearing only local or upcycled clothing. Now that the challenge is over, where is my place?

Vacation Week at the Beach

With my mind full of questions, I went on a vacation with other women. As a physics major and university professor, the majority of my life has been spent with more men than women. While I was lucky to teach at a university with women leaders and a large female faculty, we were still the minority. As the week unfolded, I found that being around women, even those whom I don't know intimately, could be liberating and easy.

I wanted to commemorate that week, so what better than a t-shirt that would be a physical reminder of the trip. But that meant purchasing a piece of clothing and knowing that it likely traveled 10,000+ miles to get to the NC beach store. How did I justify this?

When is it OK to Purchase an item of Clothing?

My Beach Tee from NC

I thought back to one of my earlier posts - the climate shadow. Surely after a year of not purchasing new items (except locally made or yarn purchases) and upcycling what I owned or received via swap, I could let myself purchase this one article of clothing. Couldn't I allow myself a physical reminder linking to this empowering time?

The answer is YES. Just as the author of the climate shadow states—we are more than one purchase. We are an accumulation of our efforts to address overconsumption. And even if a single purchase might not fully reflect our values, sometimes it is OK to think clearly and decide to take the plunge. We just need to be present and honest with ourselves about the impact of the purchase, the reality of how that garment came to be.

Making it My Own

I know I will adjust this t-shirt to be more like a women’s top; I am an upcycler at heart! So, as soon as I have just a bit more time, this t-shirt will be shortened, taken in a bit around the waist, and have its sleeves adjusted. But until then, it's a reminder that women can be good company and that we all need time away from our stresses and strains.

Still a Bit at Sea

I would love to say that my mind cleared at the beach and I feel I can forge a path to my next challenge. But, that wouldn’t be honest. For now I am awaiting another message from the universe, creating local clothing, and looking forward to putting in an entry to the NNEF Design Challenge. Do I think I have a chance of winning for my garment? Most likely not; I am new to this world. But, if you don’t try—you never know.

What's on the Horizon

I want to thank all the creative, talented people providing supplies and advice and working with me on this design challenge. I feel I am in rarefied air being around such talented artists. It makes me feel bold enough to try a design. Looking forward to sharing more about this experience and my next steps as they come into being.


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