Let us take the common t-shirt and see what Laudato Si’ has to say. First, it reminds us that the excessive production and consumption of the “throwaway culture” is not sustainable. It takes 3.5 planet Earths to maintain our first world lifestyle. Every time we wash a $5, synthetic t-shirt, we release microplastics into the water and air. When it decomposes in the landfill, the small plastic particles work their way into the food chain.
Second, Laudato Si’ informs us of our moral responsibility to address climate change. Producing the $35 organic t-shirt not only uses less fossil fuels, but also avoids the toxic chemicals, dyes and bleaches used in the apparel industry. Third, it challenges us to understand that care for vulnerable people and care for Earth are deeply connected issues. The people (sometimes children) in the sweatshops producing cheap clothing are paying the true cost by working in dangerous conditions with unhealthy chemicals for unjust wages.
I have been trying to slowly replace the garments I wear that have been made with petrochemicals such as polyester, acrylic, rayon, nylon, and spandex, with organic fabrics such as bamboo, hemp, linen, organic cotton, silk and wool. These organic fabrics reflect the true cost of the garment so I am not making others pay for my privilege. This is my new habit.
-Sister Donna Gibbs, CSJ