Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Laudato Si and Thred Up

*Please note that there is an affiliation link.  You get 10 dollars to spend and I get 10 dollars too.

You're probably thinking "Laudato Si? The Pope's Encyclical about the Environment?  What does that have to do with Thred up?"  Let me explain.

The Pope's encyclical discusses over consumption.  Here's an exert from paragraph 22:
22. These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard.
 Thred up is an online consignment store for children and women.  It's basic idea is that rather than throwing away clothing that doesn't fit, we sell it to them and they sell it to others.  I don't know about you, but my size has changed over the years.  My children continue to grow.  I've given birth twice (Thred up has a maternity section).  While it be nice to wear our clothes out until they can be used as rags, the truth is people fluctuate in size, and sometimes perfectly good clothing sits at the back of a closet or gets discarded.  Following Pope Francis' encyclical we should be trying to find more sustainable ways to avoid the throw away culture.  This is one way.

Likewise if you know anything about the garment industry you know that 1)it's a huge environmental hazard to the water ways and 2) it often mistreats it's workers.

1) To produce a garment, you use a lot of water to dye the garment.  Usually those toxic dyes end up in the water ways where the factories are located.  This pollutes the drinking water in poor areas where often these garments are produced: China, India, and Bangladesh.

2) Walmart was caught in scandal when several garment workers in Bangladesh were burned to death.  It was discovered that Walmart had originally refused to use the factory because of it's conditions.  The company originally contracted with a different factory who then turned around and sub-contracted out the order to this factory.  The factory workers were working in harsh conditions without enough exits.  None of the workers were trained in fire safety including how to use a fire extinguisher.  It was terrible.

Sweat shop conditions even happen in the United States.  California is a hub to the garment industry.  The "Christian" company, Forever 21, has produced garments in California but did not pay it's workers a fair wage.  Not once.  Not twice.  But at last count four times, the company has been called into court over paying pennies per hour for garment workers' labor.  Fortunately we live in a country where such workers have the right to form a union and to take the business into court to fight for wages.  However, because we live in a culture of over consumption, many people ignore the plight of these workers in favor of having cheaper clothing.

The easiest way to avoid all this is to avoid buying new clothing and reduce the number of clothing we have in our closets.  Why not go through your closet at least once year and remove things that no longer fit or you avoid wearing?  Why not go thrifting instead of buying retail to avoid bad business practices? 

I would love to support local businesses, but let's face it, sometimes we just don't have the time.  I don't particularly like having to shift through stacks of clothing that have been heavily sprayed down with fabreeze.  I don't like having to decide whether I think I can get an old stain out or not.  Thred up makes it easier.  They only take gently used clothing, some of which still has tags on it.  They tell you exactly what may be wrong with the garment (some minor fading, small stain, scuff mark, etc).  Most of the time, you can't tell the clothing was even used. You also get the luxury of a search engine rather than having to wade through stacks of clothing. 

You're probably thinking "But I like to try on clothing to make sure it fits."  Yep, I hear you.  Every business has it's own measurements/fits, it seems.  You can always return the clothing.  You can elect to have them give you credit or they'll refund your total minus 8.99 for shipping returns. I personally like to try things on in the comfort of my own home.  Even if I try on something in the dressing room, I find myself trying it on later at home just to confirm.  And unfortunately my local thrift stores all have a policy of crediting.  I like having the option of being able to get a refund.

The other benefit of Thredup is that they also carry maternity, plus size, and petite sizes.  It's not just for average size women.  I've even found items marked "tall."  They carry children's clothing, purses, and shoes too.  I just wish they carried a men's section.

So here's what I suggest.  Clean out your closet and send your unused garments to Thred up for credit or cash.  Or click on my linked Thred ups and get 10 dollars to try the service.  Shipping is free for orders 70 dollars and over or it's a flat shipping rate of 5.99.  That's really inexpensive.  The 10 dollars will go a long way.  According to the website there are over 50,000 listings for items 10 dollars and under.

Let's stop this throwaway culture dead in its tracks and start using resources more wisely.

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