Social Fabric 2018.07.16

Potatoes

NATURE’S OLDEST COMFORT FOOD

French fries, German potato salad, Irish potato soup, Bengal potatoes. An international starch powerhouse, the humble potato is actually native to Peru, was domesticated there over 10,000 years ago, and was only introduced to Europe after the “discovery” of the Americas in the fifteenth century. Today, there are over 4,000 (4,000!) varieties of potatoes in Peru – only a handful of which are able to grow away from the ideal Andean climate and soil. Idaho gets closest but even there they can’t grow most of them. Madhur Jaffrey chronicles her journey through Peru’s potato belt. From the New York Times.

ZIPPING ALONG

Quick – think of a company or brand whose products you use daily. I’m guessing no one but the most insider-y of apparel insiders thought ‘YKK.’ And they probably didn’t either. But if you put on a pair of jeans, zipped up a jacket, or grabbed a backpack or handbag today, chances are you interacted with a YKK zipper. For decades, Japan’s YKK has made over half the world’s zippers. If you feel like geeking out on zippers, this deep dive by Quartz looks at the history, the present, and the future of apparel’s most essential fastening device.

THE LAST STRAW?

One bright spot in the movement to change our culture of consumption is the decline of single-use plastic shopping bags. We can thank growing consumer awareness as well as new local and state laws, the most consequential being California’s 2016 law outlawing the bags. (Shameless plug – our Envirosax reusable shopping bags are so cool, so convenient, you’ll forget you ever used plastic bags!).

Next up…the plastic straw. After shopping bags, no other product gets used once and tossed (rarely recycled) as a drinking straw. Re-usable straws and paper straws (remember those?) are making big comebacks as plastic’s reign finally begins to recede. We can all drink to that! From NPR.

SPEAKING OF THINGS GOING AWAY

It’s hard to fathom, but not too long before ‘Netflix and Chill’ we had ‘Blockbuster and Return in 48 Hours, 24 Hours for New Releases.’ After closing two Alaska locations, Blockbuster will have only one remaining store. Quite honestly, I didn’t realize they had any locations still open even though my member card looks as good as new (oh, the wonders of plastic!). The fact that the last store is in hipster mecca Bend, Oregon is even more surprising. Or is it? Could this be some kind of ironic Blockbuster? From Esquire.

Social Fabric 2018.05.31

news

GOOD NEWS!

Every time I open my News app, Facebook, or, (why do i still?) Twitter, I find myself almost squinting one eye shut to avoid the latest evidence the world is spiraling toward oblivion. While we can’t bury our heads in the sand to bad news or real struggles, sometimes it helps to take a step back and realize that across the arc of human history, the world is actually getting better in many ways. Here are fifty bits of good news. Not one-off feel-good stories, but real hard data. From A Wealth of Common Sense blog.

ON THE OTHER HAND…

One part of the world that has definitely not gotten better is humanity’s relationship with its clothing. The price we pay for our clothes has fallen substantially in the past thirty years and we are buying five times as much as we did in 1980. While that might sound like a good deal for consumers, it’s also led to a toxic brew known as “Fast Fashion.” Faster, cheaper, more, repeat. Global brands have gotten huge almost overnight with this formula. But the hidden costs are huge too. From The Elephant Journal.

OLD DOG, NEW TRICKS?

Most of us have heard that learning a new language is hard after age 10, really hard after 18. It’s always been in the back of my mind as I’ve thought about taking additional Spanish courses. But a linguistics professor is blowing up these common perceptions. It depends on how we define “fluent.” When I’ve asked our Peruvian partners to score my Spanish, they are very polite and say it’s good. When pressed for a bit more candor, they admit I sound roughly like a Peruvian toddler with a cute accent (or one time, “like a Canadian who lived in Chile for a few years” ???).  In any case, they understand “I get taxi for hotel” really means “I’ll get a taxi to my hotel.” And it’s just fine. And now I feel almost as accomplished as the president of France. From Quartz.

LADIES WHO LUNCH

On my recent trip to Peru, one of our lunch conversations turned to a pilot project in a remote Pacific region where a group of women farmers are transforming their community’s school lunches to ditch processed and junk foods for nutritious organic meals. The women re-discovered the benefits to natural foods after a series of horrible weather events forced them to learn to grow new types of vegetables, just to survive. Their self-taught farming skills now form the foundation of their thriving enterprise. Way to go ladies! From IPS News.

 

Social Fabric 2018.04.27

shoes-505471_960_720

RENTAL VALUE

A new California startup has a novel idea to reduce waste and help families save money at the same time. It’s sort of a re-imagination of the hand-me-down kids clothing model many of us remember from our childhood. Though my younger brother didn’t appreciate the Mork & Mindy sweatshirt as much as I did, it was still, by and large, a good model. From Treehugger.

FAIR TRADE FINE PRINT?

A student at the University of Illinois has an interesting concept; applying fair trade principles to social media and personal data. But privacy is a really tough nut to crack. The uncomfortable truth is most of us will answer “no” when asked “are you ok that websites you visit share your data with others?”  But most of us experience the micro-benefits of data sharing every day in the form of online content that’s more relevant to us. From The Daily Illini.

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER

Right or wrong, the enduring stereotype of the Millennial is someone who misses the essence of the beautiful sunset because they’re preoccupied capturing the perfect selfie and figuring out the ideal Instagram hashtags (#sunset? #CaliLove?). So here’s a bit of counterintuitive news. Millennials are a big reason public libraries are thriving. 53% of Millennials visit libraries, higher than Gen X or Boomers. #LongLiveBooks! From Quartz.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I didn’t want to believe this when it first bubbled up on my radar last year, but apparently the fanny pack…is back. Whether you’re on Team Fanny-tastic or Team Ban the Fanny, the cool kids are sporting The Pack. I wonder if this is a good time to nudge our designer Stacy to work on that fair trade alpaca fanny pack – the FannyPaca.🤣 From Harper’s Bazaar.

Social Fabric 2018.04.22

HAPPY EARTH DAY

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LIFE IN PLASTIC, IT’S NOT FANTASTIC

Earth Day 2018 will “focus on fundamentally changing human attitude and behavior about plastics and catalyzing a significant reduction in plastic pollution” according to organizers at earthday.org. The Guardian recently documented plastic devastation on the Australian coast in their photo series “Plastic Tsunami” – it’s hard to look at.

SO TRASHY

How many of you didn’t realize the global waste trade was a thing? It is, and it’s huge. At its peak, China alone imported 9 million metric tons of waste from the US, Europe, and Japan. But starting this year, China started banning imports of 24 types of waste, causing a major backlog in the trash-exporting countries. I suspect this will not end well until we permanently figure out a way to reduce our demand for (and supply of) cheap trashy stuff. From CNBC.

IF IT’S BROKE, FIX IT

There are countless articles and blogs with tips on how to reduce your plastic usage. Here’s a nice condensed list for busy people who want to make a difference without feeling guilty that you don’t make your own ketchup. From Green Education Foundation.

I can vouch for #15.  It’s so easy to clean your whole house using little more than simple soap, vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. Wellness Mama has a nice comprehensive guide on how to ditch plastic containers by switching to home remedy cleaning products.

A HAPPY MISTAKE

Not since Alexander Fleming noticed that a bit of mold had “contaminated” his petri dish and was killing the Staphylococcus bacteria he was growing has there been such a potential game changer discovered by accident. Fleming’s mistake ended up creating penicillin, but now scientists unintentionally created a “mutant enzyme” that literally devours plastic waste. While this appears to be great news and you can count me among the hopeful, a mutant enzyme seems like something you’d want to proceed with caution on before rolling out in a big way. From Business Insider.

 

Social Fabric 2018.04.17

FEEL THE BURN

If you hired Steven Spielberg to come up with a dystopian screenplay about the excesses of Fast Fashion, I doubt he could come up with something this good. A town in Sweden is literally burning excess unsold H&M clothing in its power plant. From USA Today.

FAST FASHION’S 1000-YEAR-OLD ANTITHESIS

This shirt’s old! And most likely owned by a dignitary from the 10th century who clearly followed care instructions. In spirit, it isn’t so different from what we strive for at Fair Indigo – Forever in Fashion! From The New York Times.

AS OLD AS THE HILLS

Speaking of old, as if I needed another diversion during business travel in Peru, archeologists have discovered new ancient line drawings on hills in the Peruvian desert, these ones even older than the famous Nazca Lines. From National Geographic.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

In 2008 during a late night walk with a group of friends on a Costa Rican beach, we unexpectedly and quite literally stumbled upon a giant sea turtle (we’re talking VW Bug size). I’ll never forget my 30-something friend’s 9-year-old scream when he realized the ‘boulder’ he was going to lean on had 4 legs, a tail, and a head that moved in the direction of his ankle. Ever since, I have been fascinated by this creature’s migratory abilities – returning to the beach where they were born, decades later. Now we know how; they have built in GPS. Well, sort of. From The News and Observer.