We’re making a dreamy line of new tie-dyed garments! More on this below.
Meanwhile, as we celebrate the turning of the seasons, I am thinking about scale and impact.
When I started Vital Hemp on Earth Day in 2003, I had a vision of creating a company that was like “the GAP of hemp,” providing stylish basics for the masses but made from hemp.
Twenty years later, we’ve fulfilled part of that vision, and also the part that includes “being a part of the movement to re-legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.” So a hearty, vital “Yay!” for all that.
Still, we (and the hemp industry in general) are nowhere near the size of monolithic, not-very-eco-friendly companies that dominate the market in sectors where hemp can provide a better, more Earth-friendly alternative to the exploitive, polluting products humans continue to consume, without much thought about the human and environmental costs.
In the fashion world, some have gone to great lengths to document and address these costs—from Patagonia’s The Footprint Chronicles, to the documentary The True Cost. As we become more aware of the issues and how we can address them, it always seems like the world is just about to make that change, to become the world we want to see.
At the same time, we see so many things going wrong…a worldwide pandemic, another unnecessary war, driven by the greedy thirst for more power and wealth. And the costs of these catastrophes mount—for humans, ecosystems, and the future of a habitable planet for all living things.
Providing clothing solutions that address global warming motivated my work for almost two decades. These days, when I read that Russia’s act of sabotage on the Nord Stream pipeline emitted as much methane as one million cars over the course of one year, I feel deflated…not defeated, but definitely humbled—just sighing and wondering if I’ve done anything worthwhile at all? If the pen is mightier than the sword, maybe I should have spent the last twenty years writing….
And then, I speak with a longtime customer, who praises my work, telling me Vital Hemp made his favorite shorts ever, which is why he wants another two pairs after so many years. A night later, I attend a party, and one of the hosts is wearing one of our black Hemp T-shirts—of which he has many. “It’s all I wear,” he says. Or I sell a pair of Women’s Anywhere Pants to a family friend, who is in town to shop prior to her honeymoon. She couldn’t find travel pants anywhere; ours fit her perfectly! These moments make our work worthwhile and rekindle hope.
I remember the tale of the boy and the starfish:
A boy’s tossing starfish—stranded on a long, flat beach—back into the ocean. A man watches him, then says, “Look up the beach. There are tens of thousands of these starfish. You toss a few back in…what does it matter?” The boy picks up another, a beautiful red one that would surely bake on the sand, and tosses into the vital depths. “It matters to that one,” he says to the man, with a smile.
In this world, we’re never just like the boy or just like the man. We’re complex beings, compromising our values every day, in innumerable, even unconscious ways.
Last week, I participated in a Jewish New Year’s ritual called Tashlich, where we go to the water’s edge and symbolically cast what we don’t want to carry with us from the last year (our “sins”) into the sea. Some throw breadcrumbs; others pebbles. Our Rabbi distributed Wonder Bread, because of its phenomenal ball-making properties. I thought about what I wanted to let go, rolled three small balls, waded ankle-deep, and tossed them one by one.
Others around me tossed too. Many of those little, scrumptious balls never made it to the sea. They were picked off by a flock of hungry seagulls that see our ritual as an easy way to scavenge. I spoke with my best friend Lincoln, who practiced the same ceremony in Victoria, Canada. “We used pebbles,” he said, “because the bread harms the fish.” I thought, “Yeah, I learned not to feed bread to the ducks a long time ago. I imagine seagulls might get sick too….”
I asked the Rabbi about it. She wrote back, “Yes, we know of it. We still choose wonder bread, but am open to perhaps adopting in the future.”
So I guess I’m just saying, “Let’s take a look at the places we’re choosing Wonder Bread in our lives…is it really so wonderful? At what cost? And even if it takes us a meditative minute to find a pebble or shell or piece of driftwood on the beach to toss instead, doesn’t that choice matter? Maybe it matters to one seagull…just sayin’.
Vital Hemp is excited to preview a small run of tie-dyed items that are coming soon! Sign up for our newsletter now on ourhome page to learn how to place a pre-order of your favorite item, size, and shade. Be the first to know when our new tie-dyed items arrive!
We hope you continue to enjoy our Vital Hemp goods, while we’re still on this proverbial beach. It’s good to matter. Matter on!
Thanks for being vital,