"Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi
Sitting on the back of the motorbike, the harsh sun hitting my bare legs, as a trickle of sweat meanders its way down my lower back. It’s December in Indonesia, where the humidity level doesn’t often stray far from 100%.
I squeeze my knees to the sides of the seat as we turn a sharp corner into a back street, where the width is barely wide enough for us to get through. A local man, sitting on a plastic blue stool, sucks back on his cigarette and gives me a deadpan glare, too hot to muster a smile, (that’s what I tell myself anyway.) Small children pop their curious heads out, then run across the street and disappear into another dark doorway.
Fifty shades of grey I think to myself. No niceties or frills, no carefully manicured gardens as are usually prevalent in an Indonesian family’s village.
We dart across a thin bridge, water moving sluggishly below, heavy from the pollution it carries. An old man sits with his fishing-wire unaffected by the stream of plastic flowing past.
We speed around another corner, and boom. It hits me. My head literally jolts back with the impact. We have reached the section of the city that holds all the print and dye houses for the entire garment business of Bali.
The smell, to me, is an overwhelming mixture of methylated spirits, leaked gas and petrol. My eyes fill up, partly because of the fumes, and partly because of an unmistakable feeling of responsibility.
People live here. Families live here. Children grow up here. This is their life. They know nothing different.
How brilliantly blissfully unaware I have been, I think. How terribly frightening that I have not known the extent of each process of my profession. How focused on my goal of developing collection after collection have I been to not stop and think ‘what are the implications of the way in which I am choosing to work?’.
I believe we all learn our lessons in our own time, and at the right time. The right time being the point in which we are ready to recognize and re-evaluate. My time had come. And so the desire in me was born to begin researching different ways of developing my ranges, and designs in a way that can support a more environmentally friendly process.
The more I educate myself, and surround myself with like-minded individuals, the more I come to realize that this is a very long road to follow, one that perhaps sees no end.
How fantastic. How absolutely breathtakingly beautiful to know that I can do what I love, and continuously learn new ways to improve how to do it. New paths to try and go down. Never stagnant or dull.
Each time I choose to dye something organically, rather than chemically, I am stopping thousands of litres of polluted water going into my makers soils and rivers, I am helping to lessen the amount of fumes those families inhale, and I am giving business to companies with an environmental initiative. Each time you invest in buying an organically dyed piece of clothing, this is also what you are supporting!
The more work they are given, the more the word will spread, and my hope is that the chemical factories will make the move to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ as the supply and demand dramatically increases.