Eco-friendly clothes shopping – our Christian call

It is very good news that Truro Cathedral is hosting another pop-up sale of pre-loved clothes on Saturday 28 August. As previously, the sale is arranged and overseen by ‘We Are’, whose aim is to intercept clothing that is no longer wanted, prevent it going to landfill and sell it on, thus helping to reduce our buying of all the ‘new stuff’ that so often does significant damage to the environment. Indeed, not only is this good news for our community and for folk who would like the opportunity to purchase a new look at much reduced prices, it is also an excellent way to implement our Christian call to care for God’s Creation.

Although many of us are becoming more conscious now about the ways in which our methods of travel, the food we eat and the packaging we use can damage the environment, we sometimes forget that the clothes we wear can also be a very significant source of damage to the natural world. Growing and harvesting the fibres needed to support the fast fashion industry contributes to deforestation and biodiversity loss. The chemicals used in production and dyeing pollute waterways and poison both wildlife and people. 70% of China’s rivers and lakes are contaminated by over 11 billion litres of waste water from clothing factories. 2% of the world’s fresh water goes into the fashion industry, causing desertification, damage to local weather systems and the permanent loss of some wildlife habitats. The billions of items that fill clothing stores worldwide leave a trail of wasted fabric on factory floors and a vast pile of post-purchase waste when garments are discarded before they are fully worn out.*   

The best thing we can do is to simply buy less, but when we do need to make a purchase, we can help prolong the life of a garment that already exists rather than buying new. Making do and mending, caring well for the clothes we have, giving them away or selling them on when we have finished with them, all help to reduce the amount of new ‘stuff’ that we buy and reduce what goes to landfill. It has been estimated that keeping our clothes in circulation for just 9 months more than we usually do would reduce their carbon footprint by up to 30%.*

As human beings we interact with God’s creation in every sphere of our day to day lives. How could it be otherwise, given that we ourselves are integral parts of that creation? Caring well for that creation is an essential part of our Christian discipleship and eco-friendly clothes shopping makes a vital contribution. Welcome to ‘We are’ and thank you for giving us the opportunity to make our discipleship practical as well as fun!

*Facts and figures mostly from “Is it really green?” by Georgina Wilson Powell, DK publishing, 2021

Revd Elly Sheard

Canon for Creation Care