I love shopping and I love new things, whether it is for me or other people. It brings me joy. My love language is gifts so I guess I feel loved when I purchase something new. So what? That doesn’t sound so bad? Or does it….?
Let me unpack it a bit for you and fill in a few gaps. I became aware that my joy of buying something new is often short lived. Not long after I make a purchase, I begin to feel flat. Like most people, I don’t like feeling like that and naturally want to feel good again. So, back to the shops I go. And round and round the cycle goes. I am pretty sure this is called an addiction!!!
I am currently also involved with Ordinary Heroes™, an organisation who inspires simple acts to create world change. Pretty cool hey. However, I realised that I personally was not really living that out in regards to my shopping addiction. If I’m really honest, I can see how I am fueling the ‘fast fashion’ industry…
So I guess you could say there was/is an incongruency inside of me; I want to be a part of the solution, not contribute to the problem. But I love shopping. So apart from ‘wasting’ money, what is the problem with buying lots of clothes?
I have worked with humanitarian organisations for many years and traveled a lot. I have seen firsthand the impact of fast fashion in developing countries. I am aware and fully conscious of my buying power but sadly, the awareness of this injustice at the time didn’t always influence my decisions. Usually, it was a momentary feeling of guilt and disappointment that I chose to meet my own selfish desires over the needs of a vulnerable person in a developing country who is trapped in a vicious cycle of slavery. Coupled with this is the waste issue our world has and the impact of fast fashion on our environment.
Did you know that on average, Australians discard 23 kilograms of clothing every year, resulting in six tonnes of textiles and clothing contributed to landfill in Australia every 10 minutes?? Read more about this.
I don’t know about you but I no longer want to be a part of the problem. So this year, I have decided to participate in the ‘Not buy any new clothes for a year” challenge. Drastic I know, but I feel I needed to get on top of this issue which is having a very real impact on our world.
I am writing this, 25 days into my challenge, I have been to the shops with the opportunity to purchase something twice in that time and have been bombarded daily with reminders of all the wonderful sales that are currently on. I have stayed strong. I must admit, whilst it isn’t fun at the shops, it has kind of felt liberating when I drive home.
So how have I set myself up to succeed? Firstly, can I just say that I am totally aware that I am speaking from a very privileged position. I have the disposable income (my husband might disagree) to engage in my previous shopping habits and also that I live in a country where I have access to anything I could ever want and need at my fingertips. I also appreciate that my challenge might appear very shallow to some people, if so, sorry. I have no problem being vulnerable and hopefully helping someone else who can identify.
I know this challenge will be difficult. So I put some things in place to help keep me focused. If you’re thinking of doing this challenge too, these tips might be useful for you:
- The first thing I did, around Christmas was tell my colleagues and family about my decision. I know I will need their encouragement and help when I am tempted. I will be honest, most people just laughed at my decision and communicated that I couldn’t do it. I will show them!
- Next, I grabbed my daughters and we went through my wardrobe – resulting in 6 garbage bags of clothes and shoes. And guess what, my wardrobe is still full!! I am pretty embarrassed to say that my clean out resulted in more than 23 kgs which potentially could have ended up in landfill ☹. Cleaning my wardrobe reminded me of all the wonderful items in my closet and the fact that there is no actual need to add more. I had Diabetes Australia (my daughter and I have Type 1 diabetes) come and pick up my bags of clothes to resell in their Op Shops, with all proceeds going to Type 1 diabetes research (this part felt good!).
- Since starting, I have basically just kept away from the shops, deleted emails telling me about sales and thrown out catalogues in the mail without even opening them. I must admit, it does kind of feel a bit simpler….
So, let’s recap what I am doing and why.
In 2019, I am NOT buying any new items of clothing for myself for one whole year.
I am ALLOWED to purchase from Op Shops or borrow items of clothes from friends and receive gifts 😊. I will share those experiences with you when I get to them.
I am doing this :-
- to personally encourage myself to find joy and feel love in other, maybe more authentic and real ways.
- because I no longer want to contribute to the massive waste/landfill issue in our world.
- because I don’t want to use my buying power to contribute to keeping vulnerable people trapped in slavery with poor working conditions and low income.
I promise to you, I will be real and vulnerable with my journey.
So come along for the ride and let me know if you have ever given up something that feels sacrificial but deep inside you know your decision and actions will have a positive impact beyond yourself?