This post is heavily LDS-related, so if that doesn't apply to you, feel free to skip this.
Last year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created a prototype meeting house in Farmington, UT which utilizes solar energy and has many "green" features such as water-saving toilets, motion sensing lights, and the goal for the building's electricity to cost a net zero, culminating in LEED certification. According to George Handley on this panel (second mp3 on the page, minute 45:31), "They're building 4 prototypes that are LEED certified and they're applying to LEED for a portfolio certification which would basically mean they could then roll out all future chapels according to that prototype and all of them receive LEED certification."
When I first read about this, I was over the moon in excitement. I have a very special place in my heart for diminishing my family's carbon footprint- and the idea that the Church is going to try to do the same filled me with hope and happiness.
A couple of weeks ago in a forum, my friend Jena (link goes to a post about this!), posed a question about "green" garments, or garments made of sustainably grown or created fabrics. After working this in my mind for a couple of weeks, I decided that with Earth Day coming up, and with the Church's current efforts in being better stewards over the earth, what better time to discuss this important issue?
Currently, according to the most recent General Conference, there are over 14 million members of the Church around the world. I'm not sure how many are active and how many have been endowed, but even with a guess of 15% of the membership having been endowed in the temple, that means over 2 million people are asked to wear Church-produced garments day and night. Unlike in times past, members cannot make their own, but it is possible to request specially-made garments, though I don't know if fiber content is variable or if that is just for physical changes due to health or sizing reasons.
If you go to buy or order garments, you'll find that there is only one option for someone who would like to wear garments solely of natural fibers: 100% cotton. All other fabrics are synthetic (nylon, spandex, etc) or are a synthetic blend (cotton-poly). Synthetics come with quite the carbon footprint, but cotton doesn't have the best track record, either.
"Cotton is considered the world's 'dirtiest' crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other single major crop." Also, the cotton has to be bleached to get that crisp white we expect when we buy new garments, which means more chemicals and treatments. As a knitter, I've been able to find unbleached naturally-white cotton yarn (even fairtrade!) so I know it's out there! We just have to make use of it!
Then please let the Distribution Center know! For Earth Day this Friday and through May 1st, let's send in our suggestions! The email address for suggestions is email@example.com. It can be as simple as, "Please offer a hemp/cotton blend for garments. Thanks!"
And please spread the word. Blog about this, tweet it, sign up for the Facebook event and share it with your friends. You could even turn this into a family home evening activity about loving the earth and being grateful for what we've been given.