Some history about mottainai textiles

Mottainai is a Japanese term that doesn’t really have a direct English translation. It is usually used in the case of telling someone to not being wasteful. However, it means more than the environmental values of reuse and recycles. It is also based on the idea that you only use what you need in the world. Mottai comes from a Buddhist term that refers to the essence of all things and that everything is connected. Nai is the negative form. Therefore, together they mean that we shouldn’t waste resources and to use what we have with respect.

I was first introduced to this concept by a 16-year-old girl at an English speech contest in Japan and it made me think about how wasteful we are. Everyday people buy things they don’t need and we have become a ‘throw away’ culture. This is not news but it saddens me to think how careful that our ancestor reused everything and wasted nothing.

I have always been interested in sustainable textiles and ways that people try to create fabrics with environmental issues in mind. Textiles have always been a great pleasure in my life and I have experimented with many forms, including sewing, knitting, and printing. When living in Japan for two years I studied different forms of Japanese textiles but became most interested in the indigo dyeing process.