Saint Martin as a role model? Doing good by means of clothing
The 11th October was St. Martin’s Day. Nearly everybody knows the story of the Saint who divided his cloak with his sword to give one half to a freezing beggar. Saint Martin is considered as an admirable figure and a great example, but for what exactly? The Church usually associates his deed with the Christian term “charity”, we would rather use a different term: “sustainability”. Therefore, we took this feast day as an occasion to ask: how can we do good nowadays by a responsible approach to clothing? We have prepared some information and tips for you.
Global consequences of our shopping behavior
Especially today, fighting poverty means more than just sharing one’s coat. Due to the globalization our actions do not only affect our immediate environment, but also have a global impact. With regard to clothing, this applies in particular to the factory employees’ low wages and dangerous working conditions in countries such as China, Cambodia, Bangladesh or India. Furthermore, especially the cheap production of clothing has devastating consequences for the environment and the climate – what with the use of pesticides for the cultivation of raw material and chemicals for production as well as the high water consumption and the long transport routes. These, in turn, contribute to conditions that increase poverty, such as droughts or drinking water shortage. What can we do to change this?
Saint Martin has demonstrated that sometimes half as much is already enough. The figures confirm this: Germans buy 15 kilos of clothing on average per person and year, but hardly or never wear around 40 percent of these clothes. That is why you should always ask yourself before buying an article if you are really going to wear it. This benefits not only the climate but also your wallet. You can wisely invest the money you have saved by paying attention to better quality and ecological and social standards. Good processing and a timeless design ensure that you will have fun with your favorite pieces for a long time. Organic raw material such as organic cotton, organic hemp or recycled fibres, ecological dyes and fair trade conditions do not only protect nature and your own health, but also guarantee fair conditions for factory employees. Here, you can find a list of all ecolabels on textiles.
By the way, clothing does not always have to be new: Buying in second hand shops or flea markets saves resources as well. You can read more on the topics vintage and second hand here in our blog. Exchanging clothes with or borrowing them from friends has a similar effect and on top of this is fun! And to those who want to go even further we recommend the trend “capsule wardrobe”, consisting in a wardrobe which contains only a small number of favorite pieces that can be perfectly combined with each other.
Sometimes it is unavoidable to sort out some clothes, no matter how conscious we are in selecting them. Pieces that still look good can be donated. For example, Oxfam sells articles that are in a good condition and uses the proceeds for its developmental work. You can also give a new life to unloved clothes by means of exchange platforms on the internet or clothes-swapping events. And if you choose charity collection bins, it is worth looking more closely. For, the market is becoming more and more complex and it depends on the operator if the clothes are simply sold to commercial recyclers or if the money is donated for social projects.
Instead of buying new ones, you can also repair your clothes. Thus, you save resources and do not have to part with pieces you have grown fond of. You can wear your shoes quite long, if you have them resoled occasionally, and it is very easy to do smaller repairs such as sewing on buttons or mending seams by yourselves. There are plenty of instructions and tutorials on the internet that may help you. Repairing your clothes is not only environmentally friendly, but also increases your dexterity. And while you’re at it, you may also try to pep up old clothes. New buttons, pretty wooden beads or dyeing with environmentally friendly products makes your clothes more individual and they will look as good as new again.