I am a writer and executive administrator for Trusted Clothes, which is an ethical and sustainable fashion organization. The following is a series devoted in honor of the work done in collaboration with the Schroeckers and the Trusted Clothes team. Here is part 2. Part 1 here.
You spend a great deal of time gardening. What is the personal salience of gardening to you?
I find it calming and meditative to be outside, not speaking to anyone, just digging or weeding. I’m an all-weather gardener now I have my own boilersuit and oilskins.
As a teacher, I know how important it is to include gardening, sustainability and the environment in every curriculum. I’ve read worrying reports this year on the vast numbers of young people in the UK who have never experienced being in nature. Studies from Scandinavia are now backing up what seems like an obvious connection between time spent in nature and better communities and lower crime. I never regret a moment spent outside in my garden.
What is your favourite part of gardening?
I love the harvest…going out with a big bowl and scissors and snipping off leaves, herbs and flowers for a gorgeous salad. I’ve also just made my second batch of rhubarb wine and my neighbour Eddie, who is my go-to expert, has just given me his grapevine prunings to turn into Folly wine. Home-grown food and wine with friends, in the garden. Nothing nicer!
What about favourite kind of gardening?
Here in Shetland I love trying to beat the wild weather, like the regular hurricane-force winds that liven up the long, dark, winter, so we can really enjoy the garden during the almost constant summer daylight (we’re above 61 degrees north here…in line with Anchorage and St Petersburg). When we lived in Berlin, my gardening was confined to a balcony, although I did manage to squeeze a few pots onto the street below. Berlin was where I first encountered guerrilla gardening and I like to think, were I to live in a city again, I’d be out there, secretly creating little oases among the urban sprawl.
What other work are you involved in at this point in time?
Alongside developing Susurrus, my organic silk pillowcase business, I continue to teach. I’ve just finished a contract in a two-teacher rural primary school, where I taught primary 1, 2 and 3. After the summer holidays I start a new job teaching communication skills to young adults in a local college.
With regard to ethical and sustainable fashion companies, what’s the importance of them to you?
I have a lot of respect for the many ethical and sustainable companies who are now working within the fashion industry, especially those who started out long before the current trend, like People Tree. These companies are creating monitoring systems, standards, markets and expectations that ease the way for the rest of us.
When I set up Susurrus it took me many months to find a source of certified-organic silk in China. That was crucial for me…I wasn’t going to set up this company using silk from just any Chinese producer, even though that would have been simple and a lot cheaper. Part of my idea was to show that good, ethical, sustainable materials and products can come from China.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?
If only shopping and manufacturing habits could change as quickly as catwalk trends, all fashion would soon be ethical and sustainable. Imagine that…this season’s must-have accessory … a clear conscience.
All images courtesy of www.trustedclothes.com.