The dish cloth. A no-nonsense rag with only one simple job. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to work.
So how is it possible that this mundane scrap of fabric has come to represent what is so destructive about the textile industry?
Our old Chinese-made cotton dish cloths have, since day one, violated the laws of physics by repelling water. As this is not helpful when drying dishes, I decided to splurge on a new set during our last Pact Free period.
After much online research, it became clear that we had three replacement options:
Option number one was immediately out. But that meant I had to choose between a) organic but shoddy material made overseas in sweatshops or b) unsustainably grown cotton fabric made in the U.S., where employees have protective labor laws.
I shouldn’t have to choose between damaging the environment and damaging another human being.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. I ran into a friend, Kari Goodwin, who’s a textile artist committed to using responsibly sourced material. After sharing my dilemma with her, she offered to take up the challenge, using organic cotton terry grown and milled in the U.S.
The results were fantastic. For $30, I bought eight soft, absorbent kitchen cloths; the money went to a small business instead of a corporation; and purchase of the fabric supports the slowly growing organic cotton industry in the States.
A dish rag may seem like a small thing, but we have to realize the little decisions we make every day directly affect the world — and other people — far beyond our reach.