Today is my 31st birthday, and the perfect time to make a change for the better. So I have resolved to not buy any clothing for one year AND to donate 26 items from my current wardrobe each month until my next birthday.
Last night, I finally worked up the nerve to watch The Total Cost – a documentary about the clothing industry and how “fast fashion” is impacting the global economy – not to mention thousands of people around the world. I have been asking Brett to watch it with me for a while now, but finally gave up and decided to watch it by myself – except I was hesitant because I suspected it would mean I would have to make a change and I wasn’t quite certain I was ready for another big change just yet.
But Brett was working late last night, and the kids were all in bed, and I had a pint of dairy free Haagen Das [a birthday treat]…so it seemed like the perfect time to relax in front of a documentary [my favorite!]. Besides, putting it off wasn’t going to make the problem go away and clinging to my willful ignorance was only preventing me from making what little difference is in my power to make.
[Willful ignorance is the absolute worst offense, by the way.]
So, here I am, trying to make a difference. It won’t be a big difference, but I will at least be putting my consumer dollars where my mouth is, so to speak.
To start, I am not going to purchase any clothing [or accessories or even shoes] for myself for one year. [The only exception being piercings which require the purchase of earrings]. If I have to buy something for my kids that I can’t borrow, I will buy second hand.
Also, I will be donating 26 items from my current wardrobe each month for one year. Today, I spent a significant amount of time taking inventory of all my clothes. I have 486 items of clothing (not counting shoes, hats, coats/jackets, winter accessories, and a huge bin of maternity clothes in the shed).
This is crazy. I only wear about 10% of this stuff. Half of it I had literally forgotten existed. And most heinous of all – an embarrassingly large number of these items have never even been worn.
After logging everything by item type and evaluating my needs, I determined I can comfortably get my wardrobe down to 175 total items. [That number is still so HUGE!]. Maybe some day I will reduce it even more, but for now, that’s my goal and it equals about 26 items per month.
Instead of donating to a business that will profit off of the sale of my clothes, or ship overseas to hurt local clothing industries, I’m going to donate to a church in my neighborhood that does a “community closet” every couple months and gives the clothes away for free to people in need.
Finally, when I do purchase clothing again in the future, I will purchase from fair trade organizations and pay more money for quality clothes that will last a long time and that have been ethically sourced.
I’m sad to say that I used to justify buying clothes because they were so cheap without even thinking about how they were produced so cheaply or who the industry may be hurting in order to give me cheap stuff I don’t even need. I have probably even said that it doesn’t matter if the quality is bad because it is so cheap I can just toss it and buy another. Wow. My perspective has done a total 180°. Of course, I knew sweatshops existed. I just didn’t think of myself as being a direct part of it. But now I see how my demand for inexpensive products has added to the suffering of others around the world. And trying to excuse poor wages and dangerous working conditions as “helping the economy” is no longer going to cut it for me.
[I realize that my family’s income is from the very industry I’m talking about. I’m not trying to be hypocritical. I’m not ignoring it, I’m working on that too. But some changes can’t happen over night.]
Anyway, now I have to go put all my clothes back away.