Making, Organically: cotton thread
Making the switch:
From polyester thread and plastic spools, to organic cotton and recycled cardboard spools.
It has long been my goal to be a completely waste-free company. You can read about my journey toward reducing waste here on our company values page. One of the biggest areas of waste in my studio has to do with one of the smallest parts of each of the accessories that I make: the thread. Without thread, this business would be impossible, yet it is such an unassuming and tiny piece of the puzzle. Since the beginning, I have used polyester thread, as it is the most widely available sewing thread on the market.
There are many other benefits to polyester thread, aside from it being easy to find in stores: it’s a very strong “fiber” (although, giving it the title of “fiber” is being generous… it’s plastic) despite its delicate width, it’s cheap, and it’s available in any color imaginable.
However, throughout the years, I’ve collected and recycled hundreds of plastic spools. Aside from the thread itself being plastic, I wanted to reduce the amount of pure plastic waste I was producing. From the very beginning, this goal seemed almost impossible. No local craft stores sell thread on anything other than a plastic spool. Even the high-end thread company, Gütermann, who sells a recycled polyester thread, still puts all of their thread onto plastic spools.
After a few weeks of searching the internet and local shops for a spool of thread that was sold on cardboard or wood, and finding nothing, I decided to pivot a little bit.
(I can’t not think of this hilarious moment from Friends anytime the word “pivot” is used.)
So, I moved on in my search, and decided to try to find an organic cotton thread, in the hopes that at least I could reduce plastic consumption by using less polyester thread. By this time, I was ready to give up on my dream of working in a truly low-waste studio, and had basically resigned myself to the reality that plastic will be with us forever (read that National Geographic article for extra credit, and to also feel desperation at the state of our environment). Thankfully, my pity party was short lived. (As all pity parties ought to be, good grief.)
I stumbled upon FiberActiveOrganics.com and their line of organic cotton thread, manufactured in India, in fair trade factories, and packaged on both cardboard AND wooden spools. The owner of the company was lovely to email with, and I soon had a box of thread on its way to me, in a re-purposed box, too!
I’ve been so excited to know that the thread I’m using is completing the cycle of all natural creation. Before, with the polyester thread holding the structure of the garments together, I knew that eventually, when the life cycle of the item reached its end, the thread would remain, due to its plastic content. Now, I know that as the garments age and are used, and eventually used up, the thread will pass away, just like the cotton fabric it was sewn into. This probably feels like I’m taking things too far — it’s just thread! — but sewing is a fairly meditative craft, and I have enjoyed this process of eliminating one more aspect of wastefulness from my work.
Being able to sew with both organic fabric and organic thread, I feel, brings a new level of integrity to my goals as a professional seamstress, and I’m so thankful to all of you who come to me to create accessories for you.