For the majority of my life Earth Day meant coloring in a picture of the Earth with crayons while our teacher said "pollution" five or six times to really give it meaning. Oh, and the student council kids (aka, the lucky ones) would plant a tree, which meant they got to miss half of English class.
Safe to say if we didn't get off from school, the importance of the day was lost on me.
When I got to college Earth Day stood for tie-dye clad students, radiant with naturally tousled hair and hemp bracelets, leaping about the quad spreading love for our planet. I thought their passion was moving, although I was more concerned about the French homework I had to Google translate my way through in the next five minutes.
In the years that have passed since college I've learned a bit more about our planet. Those sixty degree January days (while fabulous) just felt plain wrong. The awareness of global warming, pollution, and the struggle to create clean air in general has gotten my attention. It has also made me realize those tie-dye clad students should have been taken more seriously than I gave them credit for. It's not their fault their bright smiles didn't strike me as welcoming before my morning coffee.
Discovering a recent sensation of wanting to help others and the world in general, it makes me exceptionally happy to be business partners with someone who feels the same way.
Since the conception of Tesoro Design a year and a half ago, it has been a goal for Brit and me to raise awareness on the damaging effects of the leather industry both nationally and internationally. Don't believe me? Check out our mission statement.
While there are regulations in the US that prevent factories from dumping chemical runoff into lakes and rivers that will eventually hydrate the people of nearby towns, the same cannot be said for countries like China and India. Read this article from the Pulitzer Center and this one from Gizmodo for a more in-depth look at the damages the leather industry is doing to the environment and humanity.
The damaging toxins of tanning and producing leather are unfortunately not the only issues within the industry. Mistreatment of workers in factories and abuse of the animals before and after they die are all factors Brit and I are acutely aware of when ordering leather. Shipping leather sourced from cows raised in unknown conditions to factories in China and India where women or children are sewing our bags for very little money is not something we will contribute to.
With every additional collection, we have made for Tesoro, we have sourced more of our leather from within the US and for Fall 2017 we plan to be able to tell you where in the US the cow who made your bag was raised and tanned. We want our processes to be as transparent as we can make them.
As both consumers and producers of product it is a challenge to avoid the cheap and prosperous fast fashion path. Producing our bags in China would surely bring the price of our product down, but at what cost? Just like the organic food industry took off when people began to realize the unnecessary additives going into our food, we hope that buyers will begin to treat what goes on their bodies the same as what goes in them. This would mean acknowledging the damaging chemicals that go into fabric dyes, which are often discarded into the environment, and the conditions of where their clothes are being made. It will take time for people to care enough to change their buying habits but at least we can say we're trying.
So, here we are. Earth Day 2017.
I think this year it's safe to say that I won't be coloring a photo of what I think the Earth looks like. Instead I'll be out creating what I think the Earth should be like. Please help me and go plant a tree :)