Because this sort of information can be hard to respond to! It's terrible, and we may feel guilty, but what can we do about it? We can't choose not to wear clothes, or to not clothe our families. I think when people see an overwhelming problem and can't see how they can help, they just downplay and/or ignore it. I bet there is a psychological term for that. (There is. See 'Denial'). But let's try to find some responsible and feasible reactions that regular people can do! I have a few things in mind.
First, I found this article with some encouraging new science about how some of the pollution from indigo dyes can possibly be dealt with. Science! Yes, there is so much that we could do as humans to protect and care for our world, and to protect and care for our brothers and sisters we share it with. The modern Catholic Church is very clear in its support of ethical science as a way in which humanity can carry out our jobs to steward the earth and to love the poor. (For example, #2293 in The Catechism of the Catholic Church). So, somebody get going on wastewater treatment and non-toxic manufacturing processes! Homeschool research opportunity! Trinity School Project Week topic!!
Second could be a response like the one here in this upworthy vid about toxic waste from fashion production that I saw on facebook yesterday. They suggest to pressure big companies and to look for labels on new clothing items that indicate certain standards of manufacturing. There is info in the news about more sustainable cotton production, and about making high quality products, instead of fashion that is designed to be trashed, because 'durability is the first tenet of sustainability' That may be something some of us have resources to do, and some of us may end up having a passion to take leadership in this way.
Third, is my response. I am already a thrift shopper. I love to go out alone, to dig in and search, discovering things that I am looking for, or discovering unexpected treasures. I also love getting the most I can on our very limited budget. I admit to a glow of pride when I tell my husband what I was able to get for our family, and how I used my own cleverness with coupons and sales at my favorite Goodwill to pay the least possible. But, this question of pollution puts shopping for secondhand clothing in a different light. We may not be able to change what manufacturers do, or to change what consumers want, and what our insatiable culture keeps buying and selling. But I can change what I buy! If I choose to buy second hand clothes whenever I can, items that have already been manufactured and sold once, then I am not adding to the pollution burden. In fact, I am decreasing the amount of discarded clothing produced. So, something to think about.
In that blog post I referred to above, Holly on My Years of Fabulous! ended by making this pledge:
“To Mother Earth, I promise that I will never, ever buy a new pair of jeans again — no matter how flattering they are, no matter how buttery soft and yummy they feel, no matter how much they are on sale and now matter how small they make my butt look. In exchange, I would like you to promise to never rain on one of my children’s birthday parties again. Twenty sugared up children hitting a piñata inside our small house gave me nerve damage. Thanks, Holly.”
So, give it some thought. See if you can make a conscious decision to at least look hard at second hand options first, before buying something new. Or, make a more radical committment like Holly. And throw your lot in with me, and meet me at the Salvation Army thrift store!