Tag Archives: environment

fast fashion

Fast Fashion Discounts The Environment.

By Chris Warren.

My daily “uniform” is jeans and a t-shirt, unless it’s warm out, then it’s shorts and a t-shirt. Heck, I don’t even own a suit. I’ve never been a dress up guy. The closest I get to dressing up is some nice shirts and jeans picked out by someone with a better sense of style than myself. It saves me money, and my wardrobe does not turn over that often. I did not realize until recently that my non-participation in fast fashion had an environmental as well as practical benefit.

Fast fashion is an industry buzzword that means to churn out inexpensive, trendy clothes. Instead of new styles being introduced two or three times a year, clothing is continuous stream of new designs that flips every month or so. By speeding up the clothing design & production process and lowering the price, retailers calculate that there is more profit in selling several less expensive items than one big ticket item. Therefore, the faster a garment becomes obsolete, the sooner consumers can be sold something else.

If a shopper buys a $500 dress, they expect it to last a long time, both in style and physical wear. But if you can sell them a $50 dress that is essentially a clone of a prestigious brand, they don’t care so much if it is out of fashion after a few months or even if it is cheaply made. It’s not going to be around that long anyway. They will buy a new dress four, five, six times or more every year to keep up with fast fashion. By the way, this scheme is used on men’s clothing too.

That’s how fast fashion brings in the money, and shoppers are taking the bait. Six $50 dresses cost the consumer a lot less than one $500 dress, and the retailer makes at least as much if not more profit. There is an added bonus: Getting the customer in the store six or more times a year (as opposed to one or two) is more opportunities to upsell other products.

Very few plots to vacuum out consumers’ wallets have been as effective as fast fashion. As a marketing strategy, it’s brilliant. Normally I would leave this alone and let capitalism run its course. This time though, the environmental impact of fast fashion cannot be given a pass.

Cheaply made clothes that are discarded frequently and replaced with more cheaply made clothes equals lot of unwanted clothes, not to mention the energy, resources, and sweatshop labor needed to produce and transport them to market. The Council for Textile Recycling estimates that the average American throws out 70 lbs. (31.75 kg) of clothing and other textiles every year…and that estimate is from 2009, well before fast fashion became fashionable!

Only a small percentage of this material is recycled, donated, or otherwise put to another useful purpose. What’s worse, the fabric is almost entirely synthetic and will last decades in a landfill. The unintended consequence of fast fashion is millions of tons of waste every year. The clothing industry is paying only vague attention to this issue, making token efforts to promote environmentally responsible practices.

Unfortunately, fast fashion is a marketing tactic that creates an artificial need for a what is essentially a throwaway product, without much regard for the impact that product has on the environment.

While many will (correctly) lay responsibility at the feet of the retailers and manufacturers, the consumer is a willing and equal party to cramming last month’s fashions into the landfills. I think I’ll hang onto my five year old  jeans and go about my very unstylish life. I may not look like the latest big thing, but the Earth will look better for not having so much of my old clothes buried in it.

earth day 2016

Earth Day 2016.

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted on April 19, 2014. We are recycing it for Earth Day 2016 with a few edits and updates.

I’m going to say up front that today’s blog article is not going to be a conservative hit piece on Earth Day 2016, nor will it be a sappy New Age love song about windmills and composting. As someone who has been a strict vegetarian for close to three decades, incorporates numerous meaningful green practices into his life, and is gun-toting, flag-waving Libertarian (which is not the same as a liberal), I feel I have an understanding of Earth Day 2016 that belies the absolute left and right attitudes that define it.

April 22 is Earth Day 2016, and for political liberals, leftover hippies, and various eco-activist groups, it’s a High Holy Day. Started by flower children in 1970 on the momentum of anti-Vietnam counterculture, Earth Day has evolved into a slick, professionally organized international media spectacle complete with its own website and corporate sponsors. Like all things liberal, Earth Day is heavy on shallow sentimentality, squishy platitudes, and calls for “investments” (taxescoughtaxes) in green projects. The real message: We simpletons need big government liberalism to save us from our own stupid. And like all things conservative, Earth Day is an opportunity for overt mockery and to dismiss environmentalism out of hand, because in the Orthodox Church of “drill, baby, drill!” it’s apostasy to even hint that the green movement has a legitimate point buried in there somewhere, especially if it interferes with making a lot of money.

Years before recycling became fashionable, I was lugging magazines and aluminum cans down from my 12th floor college dorm to a recycling center on the other side of campus.

I absolutely do believe in a clean environment and the premise behind Earth Day 2016. I also have a big issue with advancing the cause via rules and edicts that make for good press releases but never achieve their intended goal. I’ve spent a lot of time arguing with myself over how to resolve my conviction that we need to stop trashing the planet against my conservative sensibilities of resisting at every chance an egalitarian nanny state that, especially regarding environmental policy, regulates our lives down to the ridiculous, up to and including federal standards for…shower heads?

Years before recycling became fashionable, I was lugging magazines and aluminum cans down from my 12th floor college dorm to a recycling center on the other side of campus. Back then, recycling required considerable dedication and muscle. As one can guess, hardly anyone bothered. Today, recycling is as straightforward as placing recyclables at the curb where they are picked up along with garbage. My neighborhood even has entrepreneurially-minded scrappers who will scoop up discarded appliances, hot water heaters, bikes, BBQ grills, and whatever metallic waste suburbia tosses away. I don’t know how much money they make, but it must be pretty good because there are more than one of them patrolling the streets competing for junk every week. In many locales, recycling has developed to the point that there aren’t any good excuses not to do it.

Renewable energy is one area that has made considerable progress but is still a long way from being a real game changer. Even with tax incentives and subsidies (which I have a problem with), the bang for the buck is just not there. I will be well into retirement before my roof full of solar panels pay themselves off. Fortunately for me, my motivations are not solely about money. For most, the start up costs of green energy for individual use is well beyond the budget. Germany is often held up as a proud example of a “successful” national renewable energy program, but the rationalization works only if affordability is taken out of the equation.

For the Germans, solar energy may be an environmental win but it is collapsing as a business model due in no small part to regulatory overreach and meddling. Progressives here in the United states have been trying for years, but they cannot come up with a talking point that gets them over the mountain of government incompetence. Green energy will never evolve beyond the fringe unless it becomes cost effective, and it will never be cost effective without free market-based energy policy. The environmental movement will never, ever embrace this simple truth. They run their mouths about how the US should emulate Germany’s example while completely blowing off the ugly fact that it is breaking the bank.

A recurring theme in my blog is making fun of the left for doing things just to feel good. It’s not an unfair criticism: A major piece of liberal dogma is that good intentions and feelings are a valid substitute for reality and actual results. But here’s where I split with conservatives: While liberals are all about being warm and happy even if nothing gets done, conservatives seem to be of the attitude that the value of something is proportional to the amount of difficulty and sacrifice needed to do it. Or to put it another way, if something is enjoyable it’s either not worth doing or you are not working hard enough. Some of the most pissed off, bitter people I know are conservative, possibly because they have forgotten that life can’t always be about that hard journey going for the gold. But what if I can do something that really does produce results and I can feel good about it…what’s wrong with that?

Unfortunately, most of what passes as “environmentalism” is really just fluff. Earth Day 2016 will have plenty of celebrity appearances and petition signings and resurrected Joni Mitchell songs. Within twenty four hours everyone will go back to what they were doing before. They have conned themselves into thinking they are environmentalists because they plop a blue bin full of junk mail at the end of the driveway every week. Toss in an annual one day feel good retro hippy trip and they are completely sold on the hustle. I don’t know what’s worse: Liberals who pretend to be environmentalists with their hollow showmanship or conservatives who never claimed to care in the first place.

I no longer accept the idealism of my youth that had me thinking I could singlehandedly save the world one aluminum can at a time. But doing nothing is also unacceptable. Decades out of college dorm life, I’m still recycling. I’ve also been on solar panels for a while. They aren’t enough to run the whole house, but I can produce a significant chunk of my electricity with them.

When I switched to a vegetarian diet 29 years ago, it was not for environmental reasons. Since then I’ve learned a lot about how dirty and energy-intensive meat production really is, and how many thousands of gallons of water are needed to produce just one pound of beef. I work only a little over a mile from where I live; some weeks I rack up less than 25 miles on my vehicles. When the weather is good I get around on a motorcycle. These are things I do all the time, not just for display purposes. I don’t wear my environmentalism on my sleeve and people who do annoy the hell out of me, especially since most of them are pretenders.

Those of us who live our lives as if every day were Earth Day 2016 are a little vexed about the concept of waiting for a special occasion to take positive action towards keeping the planet clean, nor do we feel a need to show off how “green” we are. True Earth Day practitioners divorce themselves from the fad of environmentalism and go quietly about their eco-friendly business. It’s a lifestyle, not a hobby or a holiday. Conservatives will be pleased to know that when done properly it requires effort and is often a challenge; liberals can be assured that in the end, yes, it feels good. In a truly honorable world, there would be no need to reserve a spot on the calendar to commemorate what everyone should have been doing the whole time anyway.

greatness

This Land Is My Land

By: Chris Warren

Maybe it’s the wide open skies, or the view that goes for endless miles, but I get a sense of freedom being out in the country. The sweetest moments are when I cannot see any man made object, not even a jet trail in the sky, or hear any man made noise. I marvel at it all and hear a voice that says “God exists.” It’s a complete peace, a greatness, that no city or human-based creation can replicate.

The other day I was on a road trip that took me through north central Illinois. I’ve made this trip dozens of times before and I never find myself in a state of bored repetitiveness. Sitting on the tailgate of my truck sipping a cold soda I had a perfect view of cornfields meeting a clear blue sky that literally stretched as far as I could see. As if on cue, a bird started singing. I look over my shoulder to spot a cardinal (which is the state bird of Illinois, by the way). It was greatness in the voice of a little bird.

Any place that you can hear only natural sounds is a good place. My own backyard qualifies, most of the time, depending on which way the wind is blowing and how busy the railroad is. When I visit the big city, the thing I notice the most is the noise. In the city there is never a moment when I cannot hear some form of man made noise.

greatness
Driver’s seat view from my pickup truck rolling through northern Illinois, July 21, 2015

I first came to appreciate the greatness of the natural world years ago when I discovered motorcycles. I was looking for a place to rip through turns and charge up hills and run free for hours without the inconvenience of traffic congestion. Not being encapsulated in a car meant I could smell the trees and the muddy rivers, and yes even the cows. I could feel the subtle temperature changes when I rolled through a shaded grove. I found myself purposely stopping in the middle of nowhere and shutting the engine off just to meditate on the greatness of nature without man’s interference.

Nature taught me about its majesty by tempting me to stop and pay attention to it, which is actually not very hard when the man made distractions are gone. From the fields and birds mere feet away to the wind and lightning and stars and the planets in the night sky, nature has much to tell. Through some cosmic twist of irony, the natural world says the most about itself during the quietest moments. For all the greatness of the earth I’ve been lucky enough to see for myself, there is so much more out there I have not seen. Spending a few hours zipping through the Midwest is cool for what it is, but the United States also has mountains and valleys and oceans, all of which have their own unique lessons to teach.

A few years ago I went on another road trip to visit a friend in Florida, and that of course means hitting the beach! He did not take me to the touristy beach where there are so many people and blankets that you can barely see the sand; he instead took me to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Most of the place is not accessible by car. We trudged for over half an hour, through the sand and Florida heat, dragging our stuff with us. We plopped down in a spot where we could not see a single person both ways up the shore. But for some tall buildings in the distance and the occasional boat going by, I could have been fooled into thinking we were shipwrecked on an island. We brought our iPhones to play some music, but we never used them. The sound of the waves gently rolling in and the caw of the gulls was too perfect to be marred by digital cacophony.

Most people live in or near a large city, and while there is nothing wrong with that, the city makes it too easy to become detached from what the world would be like if humans were not constantly messing with it. I like convenient shopping and quick pizza delivery as much as anyone, but being away from it does a lot for me too. The country is nature’s way of saying it does not need tall buildings and impressive boulevards to achieve greatness. It gives me a feeling of appreciation for God’s wonder, the perfect plan of His creation, and patriotism for a mighty nation that has given me more than what can be contained within its vast borders. The land stretches out before me for more miles than my truck will ever reach and speaks of His greatness without using a single word.

earth day

Earth Day 2015 -SPECIAL EDITION.

By Chris Warren.

Happy Earth Day 2015!

Energy/environment/ecology is a favorite topic on Twenty First Summer. While TFS finds the energy policy of both conservatives and liberals to be at best a mixed bag with something to love and hate from both sides, I do fully support the higher purpose of working towards a cleaner planet even if there is disagreement on how to get there.

Below is a compilation of my environment-themed articles going all the way back to the beginning. If you have time to read only one, please choose “Earth Day Has No Reason To Exist.” It is a personal favorite and one of my best articles. I have also noted a few runners-up.

No matter what your politics or beliefs are, remember that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. Please make every day Earth Day by seeking changes  in your own daily life to help make our planet a cleaner, less toxic place to live.

Peace be with you!

Earth Day Should Not Have A Reason To Exist  –#1 RECOMMENDED.

Solar Energy Gives Us The Power To Feel Good.

The Linguistics Of Climate Change.  -RECOMMENDED

Getting The LED Out. 

The Climate Change Circus Comes To Town.  -RECOMMENDED

An Old Yankee Fades Away. 

When Energy Is Stolen, There Are No Victims. 

A Drought of Wisdom. 

Earth Day2

 

 

 

Graphic courtesy businessinsider.com

A Drought of Wisdom.

By: Chris Warren.

In California they are facing a drought the likes of which make it seem like something from a science fiction movie. Governor Jerry Brown has the thoughtful wisdom to mandate everyone cut their water consumption by 25% on top of already aggressive conservation measures. Being the regulatory labyrinth that it is, California even has a state law that prohibits restaurants from serving water unless the guest specifically asks for it.

It seems lost on the governor that this epic hot mess is caused in no small part by liberal politics and rabid environmentalism that, in deference to wildlife, spent decades successfully halting plans to build aqueducts and dams. Jerry is going to dehydrate human Californians one glass of water at a time while tens of millions of gallons of perfectly drinkable water is flushed out to sea in order to protect a two inch long fish. By the way, would someone please ask the governor how much water all those illegal aliens in California’s sanctuary cities use every day?

The day is not too far off when the completely predictable results of bizarro activism and legislation come to fruition. The drought will be most acute in southern California. On full display will be the pathos of stuffing nearly ten million people into a region that gets only 15 inches (38cm) of rain per year.

Very few of those ten million people will honestly be able to say they had no idea this was coming but they will undoubtedly act surprised and demand quick action. California politics has conditioned its population to an ethic of nanny state dependence and a belief that all problems can be solved with more laws and tax dollars.

No matter how far one may be from the California drought either in geography or personal interest, what happens out there matters to all of us. The reasons are almost too many to count: Environmental policy that treats humans as an invasive species. Urban planning that squeezes tens of millions of people into an area without enough resources to support them. And if you still don’t care, here’s the biggest reason why you should: California’s artificial irrigation-intensive farming methods.

A lot of what America eats comes from California, and it’s going to be more expensive and harder to find. Billions in tax dollars have been spent on schemes to fix these problems with almost no return on the investment.

When the well finally goes dry, the price of lettuce will be very far from the concerns of Los Angeles residents. They will face the hard truth of living in a place where the water that comes from hundreds of miles away…stops. Some will leave town; most will stick around and cling to their blue-state default group think of trusting that the government will save them. Social unrest and violence will reach every corner of a city that is a rough place even on a normal day.

It’s human nature to protect oneself from a problem by pretending it doesn’t exist. The issue is compounded because once it can no longer be ignored, it’s usually too late to do anything. If you knew your water was going to be switched off, say, on some random date in the next two years or so, what would you do right now? For Californians, and pretty much every American, the answer is obvious: Go about your normal business and be confident that the government has a drought plan B.

One of the incidental benefits of writing about preparation/survival topics is that there are so many real world examples to draw from as well as the assurance that almost everyone will shake their head yes in agreement with me but take no action to prepare themselves. Drought has been an underlying reason behind many conflicts, and always happens to someone else. That is why my message is accepted in the cognitive sense and rejected in the practical sense. To put it another way, everyone likes the idea of being prepared, but only as an idea. 

So once again, the rest of us have a golden opportunity to mitigate the effects of disaster in our own lives by paying attention to others’ poor judgement and taking the lesson to heart. It may come to your world in the form of a drought, flood, terrorism, or economic collapse. When fill-in-the-blank calamity arrives at your door, there will be other people watching from a safe distance reassuring themselves that kind of stuff happens to someone else.

(Graphic courtesy businessinsider.com)

The Climate Change Circus Comes to Town.

By: Chris Warren.

My seven year old nephew is quite a showman. He doesn’t take things too seriously and can come up with some very clever one-liners, just like his uncle. What’s best about his style is that he is funny when he does not intend to be. This trait is common in children and sometimes adults, except when adults do it, it’s seldom cute and charming. Few things are more pitiful than adults who want to be taken seriously then go about playing a fool in a way that makes you wish, really wish, they are not doing it on purpose. They ought to consider getting a job in the circus  so they can at least be paid for acting like clowns.

On Sunday, September 21, 2014, New York City was host to the “People’s Climate March.” Yes, they had an impressive crowd. Yes, they have a legitimate cause, sort of. Yet, they are closer to being like my nutty young nephew than they’d like to admit.

It didn’t matter that the marchers left behind tons and tons of garbage and litter; left wing media outlets have gone through gyrations worthy of a side show contortionist to explain the mess away. It did not matter that two of their headline acts, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and internet inventor/ex-vice president Al Gore, live lifestyles that puke more carbon than most entire American neighborhoods (did they at least share a private jet to NYC?). It did not even matter that the New York transit system added a whole lot of extra energy-gulping busses and trains to accommodate the party.ByFj0axCQAAuKfq

As I have observed in this blog before here and here, liberals are weirdly obsessed with feelings and appearances over actual results. To them, hundreds of thousands of people walking around with signs is more desirable than the same number of people cleaning local parks, planting gardens, or calling their congressman. Why? Because cleaning, planting, and calling do not make a worldwide media event. The march was timed to coincide with a United Nations summit on climate change, which itself was a ridiculous circus that accomplished absolutely zero, unless agreeing to meet again next year counts as an “accomplishment”. U.N. press releases not unexpectedly omitted the detail that many of the biggest polluter countries did not think the summit was important enough to send representatives to. Think of it as a Big Top where the  trapeze act, lion tamers, and elephants are taking the day off.

Huge crowds of Climate Marchers walking up the street did not even succeed in the superficial goal of making a lasting impression. Within twenty four hours it was a news cycle has-been. They walked around, chanted, made a few speeches, dumped their plastic water bottles and signs on the street for someone else to clean up, then left, secure in the self-indulgent belief that they are pioneering activists who made a real difference. A small minority of faithful will continue to work on environmental issues, but they were already doing that anyway. The other 97% were just there to party, feel good, and spread the smug on Facebook. Marchers: You won over no new soldiers to your cause, not even yourselves. A month from now almost no one will care about or remember the People’s Climate March.ByEn5-DIcAA359Y

Meanwhile in emerging countries around the globe, millions are living hand to mouth in abject poverty. They cook on open fires, assuming they can find something to cook, and get around on smoking, barely-running motor scooters. The climate movement, the one that claims a desire to lift up the poor, wants to take this away from them. Here in the United States, the average poor man barely scraping up enough cash to eat is being lectured that he’s better off paying more –much more, actually– for an organic, non-genetically modified version of his daily bread. The environmental movement is perfectly happy to restrict resources to those who have very little to begin with because the environmental movement’s acolytes are disproportionately wealthy and either either don’t realize or don’t care that the five bucks they blow on a pound of organic tomatoes is more than some people have to spend on food for an entire week.

On the day of the Climate March, other ordinary citizens all across America calmly went about their business recycling aluminum cans, tending their gardens, collecting rainwater, and doing meaningful volunteer work. Farmers went out to their fields and busted their asses to put food on all our tables just as they have every single day since the beginning of civilized man. For my part, I did some fine tuning on my solar panels. We had no party, no sanctimonious speeches, no manufactured “hey look at me!” moment. Any one of us did more good that day than all the efforts of the entire march. If anyone noticed us, it was by accident, and that’s the way we like it. True environmentalists are about doing, and walking through downtown Manhattan with a sign in one hand and a Starbuck’s cup in the other is not “doing” anything. Environmental problems will never be solved by people who have absolutely no intention of putting any effort into the cause beyond showing up for one  event.  The true agents of change were nowhere near Manhattan that day.

Almost every kid has given at least a passing thought to running away and joining the circus. All they know is that the circus is music, crazy acts, stunts, fun. They don’t see the hours of rehearsal and tending to animals that happens before and after every show. When the show is over, the spectators get to leave. That’s why for most of the marchers, the environmental movement will never be more than a form of entertainment. Everyone wants to be in the circus; no one wants to help put up the tent. My cute little nephew may get away with being a goof because of his age, but the march participants have to rise above second grade antics  If they expect to see any progress on keeping the planet green. The People’s Climate March is proof that the environmental movement needs fewer clowns and more dung shovelers.