True “mindfullness,” means being aware of yourself and your impact as well as the impact of everything around you. It’s understanding the effects of your actions and the actions of everything involved in your life and what the consequences of those actions are. True mindfullness can only be achieved when we as a individual can look past ourselves and our surroundings to consider exactly how the far the impacts of our actions going. To put it in a nutshell, mindfullness, is knowing the full extent of all actions, on all things. Once we understand this, only then can we create balance. Marc Cohen made a very good point in his TED talk over sustainability where he pointed out the fact that many people make decisions almost entirely based on assumptions without much or really any scientific or factual backing. This is because the world as a whole has not been educated to understand the full extent of the impact each person has and can make. The choice between a plastic bag and a paper seems simple. Choose paper because it’s biodegradable and it’s recyclable. But when this paper is not recycled and simply ends up in a landfill your now composting a bag which is much bigger and has much more mass into a landfill. When items can break down naturally or in open air, they oxidize and release CO2. When landfills lock decaying materials in layers the prevent oxygen from entering the items break down into methane gas which is 75x worse for the ozone than CO2. If you knew this simple fact, would your first answer be paper? This goes to show that the objects that are recycled or repurposed so that they don’t go to landfills cut not only methane emissions, but CO2 emissions as well. If an object can be reused it can usually also be maintained and therefore prevented (or at least prolonged) from breaking down. North Face has really embraced this idea with their latest campaign to refurbish their old coats. Many of these coats use polyester and plastic type fabrics that could be awful for the environment but can be recycled very easily. A coat is also something that almost everyone needs that isn’t usually that hard to maintain and tends to last. The trued benefit of a brand like this repurposing and even repairing clothes is that it could cut down on the over production of expensive materials over seas. In other countries around the world and the middle east, many people are experiencing serious droughts and the lack of drinking water. Many of these countries over produce cotton, linen, and other crops that take very large amounts of water to grow. With the over farming, the land becomes harsh and water dries up. With fast fashion becoming a movement the demand for crops like this has surged and the idea of regularly repairing your clothes seems like history. Unless we find better ways to use what we already have, we’re going to continue drying countries up while getting the least out of our resources. There are currently programs from the U.S. that visit countries like this to build wells and find water and I think if the developed world wants to help out this is a good way to do it but the best way to handle a problem is attack it from both sides. If we can cut down on consumption by recycling, repairing, and reusing, in addition to helping developing countries create better methods of handling and using water, we should be able to have a large impact on the lack of clean water in the middle east and in other countries like this around the world. Inspired by Leyla Acarolgu and her Ted talk back in 2014, I’ve been thinking on how to redesign fashion companies and fashion media companies in order to produce product designs that would increase the amount of consumer reuse, repair, and recycling. Google had a good idea on this subject designing a modular phone that you could replace the pieces of simply by using modular parts instead of replacing the whole phone. This would cut down on the number of phones that ended up in landfills every year and currently phones are showing up in landfills in greater numbers every year. If we designed our stores with on hand tailors so that old garments from a brand that didn’t fit or fit previously could fit again and still be worn it would take car of the issue of people who are changing sizes. If every store had tools and supplies ready to repair any item purchased then we could easily cut down on waste from damage. If these companies started by using fabrics that were easy to do maintenance on and maintain, then the cost to the company would be much more than parts and labor. The real takeaway here is that if we assume that the world is motivated by money, offer a tax break for offering a lifetime warranty. Suddenly everything that you buy can be replaced, refurbished, or reused. If we encourage brands to insure their products, they’ll put less of their efforts towards raw production and more towards the sustainable practice of maintenance. We need to treat our clothes just like we need to treat our planet, like they’re not replaceable, because while clothes can be replaced, the planet cannot. The more we replace clothes, the more we will begin to realize that we can’t replace the earth and we can’t always take back the damage we’ve done to it. What can you do in the immediate future as a reader to do your part? Find a tailor, a good one, and take care of the clothes you have. That or invest in clothes that will last.