Blog: Skincare / Human rights
The fashion industry is the world's second most polluting industry after oil, responsible for 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.
The fast fashion industry (think cheap, short-lasting, and synthetic fiber) is the biggest polluter of freshwater on the planet; is responsible for the destruction of 70 million trees every year, which are turned into fabrics like rayon; and accounts for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of worldwide insecticide use.
Pesticide and insecticide use has been linked to an unmistakable rise in farmer deaths, neurological disabilities in children living along polluted waters (like the Ganges in India), and egregious violations of human rights and women's rights (80% of garment workers are women, many of whom are not paid a living wage or guaranteed safe working conditions).
And, as we know when it comes to skincare, our skin is our largest organ. Cotton doused in pesticides, insecticides, and toxic dyes not only pollutes our earth, the source of all our food, but once it's turned into clothing and sits daily on our skin, it pollutes our bodies.
This is not ok. We need to start investing in high-quality, long-lasting clothing, instead of cheap throw-aways. And we need to hold our designers and retailers responsible: vote with your dollar, choosing companies that support a fair wage for workers (including children), safe working conditions, and a healthy planet.
To learn more, watch The True Cost movie (now streaming on Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon Instant Video).
How clear it is: we are made of water.
Water creates us, becomes us; literally, is us. Clean water matters because the vitality of our bodies matters. Because we matter. Because water is the life force behind all creation. Without it, there would be no life at all. Anywhere.
Our food grows with water. Again, water is our life force and the earth’s life force. Water fuels us, directly and indirectly. Without clean water, we would have nothing to eat. Again, there would be no life.
Access to clean water symbolizes the most basic and essential right of all beings: life. The right to life.
When communities don’t have access to clean water, women and girls spend far too many hours each day walking back and forth, far distances, to gather water. Oftentimes, six hours a day; 40 billion hours a year in Africa alone. These women are not free: they are enslaved to the need to bring back this life force to their families. These women cannot go to school because they are too busy walking, carrying this burden, literally, over their heads. They are not free to spend time discovering what they love, to create business, art—their missions cannot bloom under the oppressive distance they must travel each day on foot.
These women have Life in them. Purpose, creativity, talent, strength. Imagine if we set them free?
Not ensuring that all creatures live free, with access to clean, readily available water, is violence in its own right. Each year, unclean water kills more people than any other form of violence, including war. Yes, including war. We are responsible for this. Peace should be effortless, natural. We’ve turned something so simple, basic, and essential to life as water into a weapon of mass destruction. For the survival of humanity (and all living beings upon the earth, including the earth itself), clean water must not only be on our radar; it must be our priority.
I feel like a broken record, but I must repeat myself: clean water is not an isolated issue. Meaning the fact that we, as a global community, have not done enough to ensure that all living beings have access to clean water represents a problem within our collective, global soul. We have forgotten we are one. Every day, why do the news reporters not remind us this before they present us the day’s stories, even the ones in far-away places? That woman who carries the buckets of water over her head for hours each day, she is not so separate from you, remember that. What happens outside the walls of our homes or the borders of our nation is not separate from us; separateness is our most misaligned and disastrous illusion.
After all, at the core of our beings, we are made of space, of energy; we are not solid as we think we are. When scientists go deep into our bodies, at the end of it, they find nothing. Absolutely nothing. Empty space. Subatomic particles are split and split and split until—space; pure potential.
In other words, we are not solid: we are energy co-mingling with all the energy around us, constantly exchanging with everything in our living universe—with the phone screens we touch, the hands we shake, the chairs we sit in, and even that which is not visible to us, that with which we don’t seem to come in direct contact. Our separate and solid bodies are not so separate and solid; on the deepest levels, everything about us is shared.
Which means Gandhi’s words ring true: “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” We are undeniably interconnected, which means we are undeniably powerful.
The key to solving all of our global woes is not in the mind, but the heart: in knowing in our hearts, trusting in our guts, that we are one. Only once we recognize this, once we remember this in the depths of our souls, will we know that our behavior throughout the world is inescapably intimate. Every choice we make, including in our daily lives, shifts the world.
And, so, it is up to us to decide: in which direction will you move the world? The choice is in your hands.
*Art work by Molly Boeder Harris
I had the honor of interviewing Molly Boeder Harris, the founder of The Breathe Network and a survivor of sexual assault, and Tara Tonini, a Program Director at Exhale to Inhale and a survivor of intimate partner violence. As leaders in the anti-violence movement, these women are courageous reminders of the power of speaking our truth, telling our stories, and uniting with other survivors and allies.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that 1 in 3 women in the US have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Every 9 seconds in the USA, a woman is assaulted or beaten.
Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States.
More than 3 women are murdered each day by their husbands or boyfriends.
1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
And domestic violence is the 3rd leading cause of homelessness for families.
We must do more to support survivors, who are our sisters and brothers, friends, and daughters. And we must end this cycle.
In this interview, Molly and Tara talk about the power of using trauma-informed, holistic healing modalities to support and empower survivors in ways that make them feel safe, heard, and whole.
Molly Boeder Harris is the Founder and Executive Director of The Breathe Network, a nonprofit that connects survivors of sexual violence with sliding-scale, trauma-informed, holistic healing arts practitioners across the country.
Tweet Molly @MollyBoHa
Tara Tonini is a Program Director at Exhale to Inhale, a nonprofit that empowers survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault through the grounding and healing practice of yoga.
Tweet Tara @exhale2inhale
Listen to the interview: