14. Clothing and Bedding

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If there ever was an indicator of the sheer, utter stupidity of our species – aside from defecating into our water supply – it’s the fact that we need clothing and footwear. What were we thinking when we took this evolutionary path? Out of one hundred and ninety three species of monkey and ape on the planet, only man is not entirely covered in hair (aka built-in unisex apparel).(274) To exacerbate the situation further, we’ve managed to create a cultural story that champions the idea that hairless is sexy. To then conform to these manufactured expectations, we shave most of the little bits we have left off, using one form of blade or another.

I sometimes wonder at the absurdity of a naked ape living in a country that gets reasonably cold for a part of the year, and rarely gets warm enough for lengthy nakedness. Given our anthropocentric view of the world, we take it for granted that Homo sapiens are native to the entire planet. We’d never take such a perspective with any other species. No one argues that banana plants or coconut trees should live in the Shetland Islands. Why is it then that we never question whether or not hairless apes such as ourselves belong in regions where they need to use up huge acres of land just to put their clothes back on?

Theories abound regarding why we have no hair, with no end of anthropologists coming up with all sorts of bizarre reasons why we decided to go naked. Whatever the truth is, the reality remains that most of us find ourselves in countries where the temperature drops below what our flesh seems to be able to cope with. The result of which is that we need clothes of one kind or another.

In order to produce moneyless clothes, we either need to use fibres that grow in the wild, grow crops (such as cotton and hemp) that are famed for their ability to be turned into garments, or kill animals for their clothes and skin. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if there weren’t so many of us, but the fact that there are now over seven billion humans poses huge ecological, logistical and ethical problems in this regard. A bad situation is only made worse by the fact that the marketing departments in the houses of Armani, Primark and the like have convinced us that we need new skins every couple of months.

The challenge that we need to find a solution to is how to keep ourselves warm and protected throughout all the seasons in a way that doesn’t strip the Earth of all of its natural fertility and resources. In this chapter I aim to outline both short- and long-term strategies for doing this, enabling you to take the option that allows you to have the least impact on the Earth in the short term, and with the aid of your own POP model for clothing, the maximum connection with Her in the long-term.

An important note: I’ve dealt with shoes in the chapter on transport, as I think of them more as a vehicle than fashion, which probably reflects my own mindset of shoes being functional rather than stylish. Now if a woman had written this book … well, you know what chapter you’d find shoes in!