Making A Dent In Preserving the Environment

“Many cultures traditionally associate the color green with nature and its attributes, including life, fertility, and rebirth.  In recent years, green has become the symbolic color of environmentalism.”

 All of these facets of green were explored in the recent “Green: the Color and the Cause,” exhibit at The Textile Museum inWashingtonD.C.  Nature itself is subtle and repetitive, and often unpredictable.  It links all humans to the natural world and is a reflection of paradise on earth. The leaf, a symbol of beauty and fragility was the subject of much of the artwork, garments and textiles on display. 

 Many artists’ creations were made from repurposed articles of clothing, found fabrics, and precious fragments.  Gyongy Laaky who used discarded tree prunings to spell out “The Green issue” said, “I am interested in making a small dent in changing attitudes about the environment and our relationship to it.”   Words like sustainability, eco-friendly and recycling were not part of a woman’s vocabulary in my mother’s generation.  Nevertheless in many ways they were contributing more to conserving the environment than today’s shopaholic/throw-away consumers.

 In my mother’s case, she advocated quality over quantity.  When she added a new suit to her wardrobe or updated the drapery in the living room she chose wisely and carefully.  Mother passed along to me her attitude of buying less, but buying the best we could afford. She knew it was more likely I would appreciate, take care of, and continue to wear a couple of good outfits better than I would maintain and keep a lot of mediocre things. 

 Mother didn’t realize it at the time but when she repurposed our Louis XV style living room sofa that she was making a contribution to the green movement.  My father was reluctant to let her part with their red velvet mahogany framed sofa which no longer suited her taste, but that did not stop her from getting the look she wanted.  She had an upholsterer recover it in a  leafy green, nubby texture and also had him strip the dark frame to a more fashionable blonde stain.  My mother was either extremely confident, or very daring, or both.  Her revived sofa was the talk of the neighbors in our NYC apartment building.   


 I have followed my mother’s lead regarding repurposing, buying less and taking care of what I already have. My husband and I, not being of the throw-away generation, have kept several pieces of furniture we owned before we were married 42 years ago.  One of my contributions is a transitionally styled credenza that was first in my teenage bedroom, then during my single days found its way into my apartment dining room, and  now it endures at our lodge in the country.   Add in the antiques Jim and I have collected over the years and I guess I can claim we are making a small dent in preserving the environment.


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