After returning home from an extended trip abroad, I realized the 50 pound suitcase I toted around Europe contained items I didn’t need. Before the trip, I bought specific pieces that would look great in “photos” and strategic items to accommodate the “look” of each country. Even though I wore almost everything in my suitcase, I found myself repeating certain outfits more often than others. I finally got curious about why I hold onto clothing and why I wear certain items more often.
Realizing the Environmental & Human Impact
Wanting to learn more about decluttering clothing, I randomly came across the documentary, The True Cost. Ever since watching that documentary, my relationship with cheap clothing dramatically shifted. After years of purchasing exclusively from fast fashion retailers such as Forever XX1 and Zara, I learned how those purchasing decisions not only negatively impacts the environment but also perpetuates unacceptable labor standards. Most fast fashion shoppers accept that items are low quality, but haven’t yet connected with how retailers produce inexpensive garments. Once I finally understood the human cost of retailers cheap pricing, I quickly reevaluated my purchasing decisions.
Evaluating my Relationship with Consumption
During my decluttering journey, I also started studying minimalism and learning how to live with less. For three months I committed to a shopping ban and faced some hard truths about my shopping impulses. Before the ban, I used shopping to numb stress and to help me feel better about myself. During the shopping ban, I learned how to effectively calm stress without mindless consumption and instead recovery from stress with mindfulness techniques. I also started to practice gratitude for what I have and tamed the false needs for newer, better, and shinier. Below are a few books that helped me reevaluate my relationship with consumption:
- Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver – Founder of Project 333, Courtney teachers how to organize capsule wardrobes with thirty three items for three months four times a year. She also examines our attachment to stuff and how to view ourselves as more than things.
- The Year Of Less by Cait Flanders – Through a year shopping ban, Cait uncovers the emotional relationship with consumption and how to find a true form of self acceptance.
- The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – Marie helps you learn how to give yourself permission to keep only what sparks joy in your life.
Aligning my Ethics with my Purchasing Habits
I’m still in the process of decluttering and selling clothing that no longer serves me. Although I could donate everything at once, I’m enjoying the process of slowly selling my things. I’d rather have my gently used clothing in the hands of a person and filling the second hand community than risk items filling a landfill. Once my three month fashion band ended, I purchased a pair of pants I was eyeing from a sustainable company. As I fill in gaps in my wardrobe, I’m excited to shop not only with ethically made retailers but also secondhand. With my new relationship with shopping, I’m purchasing slowly and really asking myself my true intentions behind purchases. I only want to bring items into my life that truly being me value and steady me on the path of self love!