Grimes, well known for her music (her voice is beautiful, in my opinion) and also for being Elon Musk’s partner, is doing some great things to help fight climate change.
A few months ago, I wrote an article about her work with Carbon180. Today, I’m sharing her latest project, which will continue to support Carbon180 but is also spreading awareness about something else: the dark side of the clothing industry, and the merch industry.
Before I get into that, let’s look at what she’s doing.
No New Clothes is a “wearable art project by Grimes” that features her original artwork, and it isn’t your typical silkscreened project. Each t-shirt is a unique, one-of-a-kind piece of art — with her art silkscreened by hand onto vintage tees. Each piece has an environmentally conscious message from the ’80s or ’90s, and since these are one-of-a-kind pieces, they create a unique collection of single-unit works of art.
The brand, NOT/APPLICABLE, has the motto, “Acknowledge the past whilst considering the future,” and only curates rare 100% vintage collections that align with the motto. It looks for designs that inspire modern-day pieces while still keeping their original and rare natures. The brand values sustainability, reducing waste, and rare and authentic vintage products.
For now, it seems as if she’s sold out (or is in the process of adding more). The prices of the pieces of clothing were $500 each, and all of the funds benefit Carbon180. However, not to worry — Grimes’ entire eBay store is donating the sales of her merch to Carbon180, whether it’s a failed album cover, her coloring book (which is $20), or her more expensive pieces of art.
Textile Printing & The Environment
Back in 2012, OECO Textiles shared a blog post titled “Textile Printing and the Environment.” Although this was some time ago, it brings to light the darker side of textile printing. The article noted that when you take into consideration the size of the printing industry and the volume of chemicals it consumes — it’s not surprising that it generates large amounts of pollution. For the textile industry, gaseous emissions have been identified as the second greatest pollution problem after the effluent quality, and these mostly come from printing.
The post pointed out that in 1995, more than 41 million pounds of toxic compounds were transferred or released into the environment by the printing industry in the US by itself. Included in the post is a list of some of the polluting chemicals that are used by this industry — all of them derived from petroleum. The worst three are:
- Toluene. Toluene is mostly used as a solvent, but also used throughout printing for cleaning up. It also contributes to the formation of ozone in the atmosphere. The article noted that studies on toluene showed that it harmed unborn animals when their mothers inhaled it.
- Ethylene glycol mon-n-butyl ether. This is the most commonly used glycol ether in printing, the article pointed out. It can seep into groundwater and react with photochemically produced hydroxyl radicals. When people are exposed to this, it can cause central nervous system depression — with symptoms that may mimic schizophrenia or narcolepsy.
- Methyl ethyl ketone. Helps form air pollutants in the lower atmosphere, and if you were to breathe in “moderate amounts for short periods of time,” this could also mess up your nervous system as well as lead to liver and kidney issues.
This is just one older piece of information I am sharing with you, just so you can see the impact of what Grimes is doing and how important it is. Grimes often talks about the environmental impact of selling merch. Many musicians and artists sell merch — it’s a way they support themselves.
In 2017, Smithsonian Mag wanted to know what an environmental footprint of a tee shirt was. It opened the article with questions such as, “Do you know how much water was used to make it? How much fuel expended to ship it? How many ounces of scraps were cast aside from the trimmings?” The author shared the story of Sandra Roos, a Ph.D. student at Chalmers Institute of Technology in Sweden. Roos, the article noted, analyzed many aspects of the lifecycle of a tee shirt that hadn’t been put together for fashion. The report included costs of daily use, discard/recycling, and even the fuel to get to the store to buy it. You can read more about that report here.
I love what Grimes is doing with her merch store on eBay, and love how she is using her platform to advocate for the environment. She should be recognized for her achievements. Grimes, if you’re reading this, we appreciate you.
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