The Human Thread

May 05, 2016

Author: editor

Category: Act

Before you next go shopping

Roderick Eime
If you recently have thought about needing more storage for your clothing, let me suggest a tactic. This may take some time, but it is worth your while.

Make a list of your purchases and gifts of clothing from the past 12 months. Your bank statements and credit card statements can help, especially with those nifty features that categorize your expenses. Go through them line by line. Can you recall the individual purchases? Do you remember anything at all? Any good memories? Sometimes, the mind remains completely blank about that expenditure.

If you are coming up blank, you probably did not need it. In fact, the purchase likely did nothing to improve your quality of life. In all likelihood, you did not need to make that expenditure. When we spend money, we want our purchases to be meaningful, not money discarded carelessly.

Choosing ethically sourced clothing, I suggest, leads to greater satisfaction in life than throwing money carelessly after fast fashion. Advertising for fast fashion, like fast food, is propaganda in a war over your finances. All the slick ads seek to entice us to prioritize instant gratification over long-term fulfillment. A careless purchase now may bring momentary pleasure but, over time, it disappears. We are left with burgeoning closets of things that we do not want to wear or, in the case of fast food, burgeoning waistlines, neither of which make us happier over the long haul.

Taking the long view leads to enduring satisfaction, even joy. Try this test next time you are about to purchase clothing: Will I remember this garment when my credit card bill is due? Will I remember it in 12 months? If I can honestly say yes, then it may prove useful, perhaps even enduring. If it won’t, then I should not make the purchase. Our clothing, like our money, should not be carelessly discarded.

Today, everything is seen as either disposable or replaceable. Our overflowing landfills aren’t the only obvious signs. The purchase of discardable clothing lends itself to thinking of the workers as disposable as well. Pope Francis often reminds us that our “throwaway culture” leads us to throwaway not only “things” but also relationships, people, beliefs, and even dreams.

If we slow down the way we purchase, we will change the way we purchase and consume. If we consistently choose enduring satisfaction over instant gratification, we build a better life for ourselves, for those we care about, and even for those who live far distant from us and who we cannot see.

If you are willing to undertake the challenge of these kinds of changes in your shopping habits, perhaps you want to take our St. Vincent Pledge. By means of this pledge, you pledge to:

Pray for the cultivation of solidarity between the consumers of clothing with the people who produce them in order to create sustainable communities through a more just economy. Learn about and educate others on the real consequences (both negative and positive) of globalized supply chains, especially in the clothing industry. Assess how we — as individuals and in our families, faith communities and places of employment — are able to confront the ’globalization of indifference” in the clothing industry by taking greater responsibility for the unintended consequences of our behavior as consumers. Act to change our choices and behaviors as consumers to improve the lives of the people who make our clothing and other goods in the global economy. Advocate for Catholic principles, priorities, and values with retailers, brand owners and government bodies concerning the wages and working conditions of the people who make our clothing.