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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Education only way to solve UK’s ‘throwaway mindset’

Society’s “throwaway mindset” must be tackled through education, a Catholic environmentalist has urged.

The call comes amid news that Britons will spend more than £2.7 billion this year on tens of millions of summer outfits they will wear only once.

Ellen Teague, of the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, pointed out that young people the organisation had been in contact with highlighted throwaway fashion as one of their major concerns, along with fast food and single use plastic.

“Planet Earth simply cannot sustain this waste, as landfills fill up and oceans and the atmosphere are increasingly polluted,” Mrs Teague told The Catholic Universe.

“Remember that, in the UK, two-thirds of clothing is made from synthetic plastic materials, which are among the leading contributors to microplastic pollution. So, it’s a matter of tackling the throwaway mindset through education and organising recycling of unused clothes.”

She explained that the next Columban Young Journalists’ Competition will focus on the issue.

“Columbans support Pope Francis, who condemned our ‘throwaway society’ in Laudato Si’, so much so that our next Columban Young Journalists’ Competition to be launched in the autumn will take as its title, ‘Tackling our Throwaway Culture’.

“We are using the following quote from Pope Francis: ‘Problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just a sit quickly reduces things to rubbish’ (Laudato Si’ #22).”

Mrs Teague also criticised the media for its role in supporting a ‘throwaway society’, saying that it must be tackled for handing out flack to celebrities if they repeat their outfits.

“Even millionaire model Kendall Jenner says, ‘I’d feel so wasteful only wearing clothes once’. And nurturing sensitivity and compassion for those who live on less than $1 a day, especially in the global south, for whom throwaway clothes are unthinkable. This is one issue that should make us long for an ‘ecological conversion’ in society,” she said.

Mrs Teague’s comments come as a recent survey suggested that consumers are set to spend £800 million on 10 million wedding outfits they will wear once, £700 million on single-use holiday clothes, and millions more on items for events such as barbecues, festivals and balls or other formal events,

The Barnardo’s poll found that one in four people (25 per cent) is embarrassed to wear an outfit to a special occasion more than once, rising to 37 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds, with the charity suggesting that ‘this needs to change’.

Just 12 per cent of over-55s reported feeling any embarrassment over wearing an outfit more than once.

More than half of consumers (51 per cent) said buying new clothes for a festival or holiday added to the excitement of the build-up.

Censuswide surveyed 2,000 people aged 16 and over online between 3rd and 5th June.