Kirk gets needled over waste

THE Church of Scotland today called for a return to the days of darning and sewing to help cut pollution and combat the throwaway society.

A report expected to be endorsed by the General Assembly suggested young people should learn traditional mending skills from the older generation to make their clothes last longer.

The report spelled out the environmental impact of dumping unwanted clothes in landfill and also highlighted concerns about sweat shop labour and a fashion culture which linked sex appeal to happiness. And it praised church-backed projects which help clothes recycling.

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The Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk's church and society council, said: "Clearly we have a clothing culture which is very disposable and one of the ethical questions is how we can be a bit counter-cultural on this for the sake of people in other parts of the world and the environment.

"There are habits of thrift that used to be core skills which no longer are and it would be good to reassociate with these to save money and use clothing for longer.

"It's also an opportunity for young people to engage with their grannies.

"We are all interested in how we look but if we can extend our interest in fashion to some of the ethical and environmental considerations that would be a good thing."

The report praised two Edinburgh congregations involved in recyling clothes - the monthly Nearly New shop run by Craigentinny St Christopher's and Charity Chic at St Andrew's and St George's West Church which aims to reduce exploitative clothing consumption through ethical, fair-trade and eco-friendly initiatives.

The report added: "We believe that much more should be done to encourage people to give their old clothes to charity, and to mend rather than replace torn garments.

"We would like to encourage Church members with skills in darning and sewing to help pass on their skills to others in their congregation. We also ask that people think about giving their clothes to charity."

The report said for many people, buying and showing off clothes was important, and the the Kirk affirmed " people should feel good about how they look".

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But it said an average of 30kg of textiles per person was thrown away every year, most of it to landfill.

In one year, UK clothing and textiles produced up to two million tonnes of waste, 3.1 million tonnes of CO2 and 70 million tonnes of waste water.The report said sweatshops using forced or child labour made up only a small part of a very large industry, but it highlighted wider systemic problems faced by garment workers - low pay, sexual harassment, difficult working conditions and denial of trade union rights.

It also called for the industry to "stop implying that success, physical beauty, sex appeal and happiness are intimately linked".

Assembly welcomes gay moves

THE Church of Scotland has moved closer to accepting gay ministers and allowing civil partnerships to be blessed in church.

A six-hour debate at the General Assembly ended with a vote by 351 to 294 in favour.

A theological commission will decide if those in civil partnerships should be trained and ordained as ministers. It will report to the Assembly in 2013.

The Assembly also agreed homosexuality was not a bar to people becoming ministers.