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October again and time to put away my summer clothes and haul out the winter ones. But this year, I have some new things to think about.

At Christ Church Cathedral’s Eco-Fair last spring I learned about some of the environmental costs of the fashion industry. I learned that the cost of clothing production has a major impact on our climate! Studies show that anywhere from 3 - 8 percent of global carbon emissions are caused by the fashion industry. [2]. On top of that, there are often issues with water pollution. Did you know that one third of microplastic pollution ending up in our oceans comes from our clothes? [2]. I learned how the lifecycle of the clothes I wear impacts the soil, water, raw materials, the sets of hands producing the garments, transportation, sale, and ultimately, the disposal of the garments.

Accordingly, this seasonal exercise of choosing my wardrobe has become a challenge to the way I live my life as a Christian. How can I reconcile my acquisition of new clothes, if this clothing consumption is contributing to the degradation of the earth and the oppression of marginalized communities? How can I reshape my wardrobe into a practical, versatile, fashionable, long-lasting collection of sustainably produced environmentally friendly items? First, I recognize the need to confront the consumerism that surrounds me and has shaped much of my behaviour: the barrage of ads; the number of stores selling clothing and the overabundance of clothing to choose from, and the pressure to look different for every occasion, to buy, buy, buy! [1]. I don’t need to buy something that I wear only a few times and then send to the thrift store, when I know now that only 20% of thrift store donations are sent to resellers and most of the rest goes straight to the landfill or is incinerated (adding to air pollution). So much for the ‘Recycle’ argument! It is really good to learn of a few places where
things are conscientiously re-used. I think of my kids having a clothing swap with their friends, or the Our Social Fabric Store on Venables Street here in Vancouver which receives and resells materials from many sources, including the movie industry.

Which of these things in my closet should be Re-Used? I’m a quilter, so surely some things could augment material already in my quilting stash and return in a beautiful new format. Re-Purposing is an exciting and challenging concept for me to explore.
1. “I Broke up with Fast Fashion, and you can too” Ted Talk, Gabriella Smith (under 10 minutes)
2. The Global Glut of Clothing Is an Environmental Crisis, Rachael Dottle and Jackie Gu; February 23,
3. Fashion for the Earth: Quick Facts and What You Can Do

Lorna is an active member of Climate Action Through Stewarding (CATS) at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, BC