whenever i clean out my clothes closet and donate clothes to the st. vincent de paul thrift shop, i feel good about myself. i believe and try my best to live a simple lifestyle. i think minimalism is a sub-set of living for me.
i recently read an engaging article about clothing waste and consumerism. here it is: https://www.vox.com/the-goods/22700581/aja-barber-consumed-book-fast-fashion-ghana
this quote from the article is telling: “We can’t buy our way to an ethical world. We can choose to support businesses that are more ethical, but when the garment industry produces almost 14 times as many clothes as there are humans on this planet, we have to acknowledge what the real problem is.”
for years i had known of the worker exploitation in developing countries that produce our nikes and other clothing. but i had never considered the other end of the life for our clothing and where it really ends up. i had no idea what was happening in places like ghana because of the developed-world’s clothing consumerism.
also from the article: “Every week, an estimated 15 million used garments from North America, Europe, and Australia arrive in Ghana’s capital city of Accra. These are the unwanted clothes that well-meaning Westerners have donated to be reused or resold, bombarding countries such as Ghana with clothing waste.”
this is another example of the inter-connectedness of our world. because of the consumer demand, companies will seek to make items/services in the least expensive ways in order to make a profit. the consumeristic way-of-being affects workers in the developing countries who need the work. these exploited workers can even become 21st century indentured slaves. in the waste that is a consequence of such self-centered lifestyles, our environment suffers.
i suppose that this interconnected dynamic can be applied to our electronics, cars, oil and plastics too. there are many things that support consumeristic convenience. part of me does not want to know the consequences.
because of the influence of money and the profit incentive, the primary answer to these problems is the demand side. the statement, “we can’t buy our way to an ethical world” rings true. in this sense, we all have part of both the problems and solutions.
one of the recommendations in the article was to be mindful in our purchases. to buy things that last and to stop the cycle of buying– throwing away–buying new/more. but for decades, advertising has already so engrained our hearts with the desire for the new and improved. why else do people need the latest cell phone from apple of samsung when the one we already have works perfectly well? they want the new phone, not need it.
and yes, this is a topic for people of faith. pope francis addresses it in laudato si #204:
“The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes ‘a seedbed for collective selfishness’.[John Paul II, Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 1: AAS 82 (1990), 147] When people become self-centered and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality. In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears. As these attitudes become more widespread, social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs. So our concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic consequences of social unrest. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.”
the timeless themes of selfishness, greed, the common good, nature, and violence are all played out in our consumeristic styles of life. God help us all
let us pray:
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
A Christian prayer in union with creation
Father, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!
Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!
Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!
Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.
God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
(from https://www.laudatosi.org/pope-francis/a-prayer-for-the-earth/ )
This makes me so happy I married a man who is not tied to the newest trends.
Doesn’t care for makeup on me. I could go on and on . He is frugal about all the right stuff , so giving of the right stuff.
Thank you for this beautiful morning devotion.
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so many people are owned by their possessions instead of vice versa…
have a graced day becca!
Thank you for this to start my day. While I am not frugal in all things, purchasing gently-used clothing for myself and children over the years before consignment became trendy, I look back now with thankfulness at my frugality.
thanks for reading. my parents taught thriftiness as a lifestyle– i have them to thank for my frugality!