Buy no new clothes. Whoa. I think this is my toughest resolution yet.
Why am I doing this? Well, fast fashion is causing the fashion industry to spiral out of control. I didn’t realize how bad it was until I saw the documentary The True Cost on Netflix.
In a nutshell, here’s what I learned:
Low Prices = Bad Working Conditions
- stores need to keep clothing prices low to stay competitive
- so, the cost of clothing production keeps getting lower and lower
- factory workers ultimately suffer with low wadges and horrible working conditions
- stores quickly turn clothing to keep customers coming in to buy
- excess clothing production creates waste
- consequently, the fashion industry becomes one of the world’s largest polluters
With that in mind, I question how much I really need.
I also think about how my purchasing behavior has changed throughout my life. When I was little, my mom would take my brother and me clothes shopping maybe twice a year. Once in late August before school started for fall/winter clothes and once in the spring for spring/summer clothes. That’s it.
Then in high school I started going maybe once every month or two. Image is important when you’re a teenager.
Then when I was in college I’d go whenever I felt like it. That could be multiple times a week. And if you were dating someone you definitely were always shopping. You always wanted to look good, and the amount he took you shopping was a sign of how into you he was.
Now as an adult, I have a hard time thinking of when I last went shopping because I actually needed something. Like REALLY needed it. Most of the time I shop because it’s something to do. It’s a way to blow off steam or just let my mind wander. Getting stuff has been an artifice to fulfill some other need.
When I stop and think about it, the whole thing seems pretty screwed up. And I’m not even that bad when I think about how much other people splurge. But this who we’ve become as a society.
Ten years ago I read about a woman who resolved to wear the same brown dress everyday for a year. She did it and walked away learning a ton about herself and the fashion industry. Her blog is no more, but others have written about her. Here’s a link to one article.
A few years later, in 2009, someone else did the same thing, except her dress was black. She also raised oodles of money for for underprivileged children in India.
These women were making a few statements:
- forget societal pressure on women to be fashionable
- don’t waste your money on clothing
- over-consuming clothes is not socially or environmentally sustainable
I’m not bad ass enough to wear the same dress everyday. I don’t even like dresses. But I do think there’s something I can do, and I do think by doing something I can grow. So I’m going to start with buying no new clothes.
This actually scares me, a lot. Like, I’m so nervous about it that I wonder if I have an unhealthy attachment to consumption.
The reality is, though, when I look in my closet, I have more than enough things to wear. Even after shedding so much because of moving overseas and losing weight, there’s still a lot. I don’t actually need anything new. But the thought of not being able to buy any new clothes for a year is still frightening.
I keep having thoughts like,
- what if my running shoes get shot?
- what if all my underwear gets stretched out?
- what if my weight changes and nothing fits?
There are plenty more, but you get the idea. And it’s these fears that, in part, probably keep me shopping frequently.
So I’m just going to have to find another way to deal with it.
This ought to be an interesting year.