By Sister Rose Marie Tresp
The clothing we wear has an unseen price on the lives of workers and the environment.
In the effort to produce clothes more cheaply and quickly, companies often turn to workers in underdeveloped nations, where they are paid unfair wages and may work in slave-like conditions that contribute to the cycle of poverty. In garment factories, children may be put to work at any or all stages of the supply chain, from the production of cotton
, to the yarn spinning, to the final cuts and sewing stages.
Clothing production also creates a significant environmental impact. There is a massive amount of waste created as newer fashion trends push older ones into landfills. Modern textiles also rely heavily on petrochemical products that come from many of the same oil and gas companies driving greenhouse gas emissions. Today, in fact, fashion accounts for up to 10% of global carbon dioxide output—more than international flights and shipping combined, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. It also accounts for a fifth of the 300 million tons of plastic produced globally each year.
Buy secondhand clothing to keep textiles out of landfills and reduce the demand for plastics in fashion. If everyone bought one secondhand item of clothing a year instead of new clothing, this would be the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent of taking ½ million cars off the road.