Claire Couche

There Is A Life…Behind Our Clothing

Ethical Stories: Claire C.

A year ago, I watched a documentary called ‘The True Cost‘. This film explains the fast fashion industry and the need for our world to embrace ethical fashion. In this documentary, I watched the poor fight for their lives as they support our excessive materialistic society. I was shaken to the very core of my beliefs about our world, our society, and about our material goods. Since watching that documentary, promoting ethical fashion and material goods is my passion.

Living an ethical lifestyle is one of the most freeing things I have done. Before discovering the reality of fast fashion and the people it affects, I would impulsively make clothing purchases. I would see a picture of a beautiful shirt or dress and immediately covet it. In a way, fashion was becoming an idol. After seeing the people who were affected from my shopping addictions in ‘The True Cost’, I began to change. I now purchase less and use (and reuse!) what I already own. I have a renewed sense of taking care of the items I own as they were made by people who are fighting to live.

Clothing is something that connects us all. I began asking the question, “Who made my clothes?” and discovered that I was extremely disconnected from the men, women, and children in the agriculture, manufacturing, and retail industries that provided the clothes I purchased. Through research, I found that there are over 40 million garment workers and they are some of the lowest paid workers in the world. 85% of these garment workers are women, whose rights are violated daily.

There is a life; in fact there are many lives and stories, behind each piece of clothing that we wear. It’s the mother that travels many miles to work for mere pennies to support her children. It’s her child that she has to send away to another village to be looked after and cared for. It’s the village that resides near fields owned by corporations that are pumped with pesticides to ensure the “best” materials and best yield. Our choices affect people in other places and make a lasting impression on future generations.

After discovering this, my passion for ethical fashion became action. I decided to create Moscati Scrubs, an ethically made scrubs company for medical professionals. It has been both a challenge and joy to see first hand what its like to build a sustainable product from scratch. I am in the beginning stages of building Moscati Scubs and I look forward to seeing this dream come to fruition!

Driven by Faith

There is a passage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that beautifully expresses the need to live a life that upholds the dignity of our brothers and sisters:

‘In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself.’ The ownership of property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family. Goods of production – material or immaterial – such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.

There’s a lot to unpack from this quote, but the three things that stand out the most to me are:

1. We are stewards of Providence. A steward is someone who is appointed to look after another’s property. Everything we have, both our talents and possessions, are given to us by God. They are ultimately His. I know that when I am lent something, I take extra care to keep it in pristine condition. We need to extend this mentality to our own possessions.

2. Goods should be used in a way that will benefit the greatest number. This includes using factories that are safe. This includes using land in a way that does not harm our environment, and protecting the farmers that farm that land. This also raises the obligation for us to use our skills to benefit the greatest amount of people.

3. We need to use and consume our goods in moderation. We need to relearn moderation. But we also need to go a step further. We need to save the best parts of our goods and consumables for our guests, for the sick, and for the poor.

As Catholics, it is our duty to remind ourselves that every person is worthy of respect. Every person has dignity. This is why we must fight the good fight for ethical fashion. We must put into action our values, our core beliefs. It is time to reassess our habits and our purchases, asking ourselves if it is truly right and just to continue in this way. Let us hold up the human person with dignity. Let us love God, and love our neighbor. Let us love with both our words and with our actions.

5 Ways to live out love towards our neighbor in the fashion industry:

1. Purchase your clothing from brands that pay their workers fairly and have transparent supply chains. Here is a list of my favorite ethical brands to purchase from: Linenfox/ Vetta Capsule/ Mata Traders/ Amour Vert/ Christy Dawn/ People Tree/ Jessica Rey

2. Write a letter to a fashion brand. Fashion Revolution has a prepared letter that makes it easy.

3. Educate ourselves about fast fashion and the lives that are affected. Watch ‘The True Cost’, read, research, and ask questions!

4. Purchase and consume less.

5. Pray for the men, women, and children fighting for their lives.

 

Find Claire online at http://findingphilothea.com, and https://www.moscatiscrubs.com and follow her at @findingphilothea and @moscatiscrubs.