My New Year’s resolution this year is going to be tough.
Three days in and I’m already wondering if this was a mistake. I mean, why would any thinking girl commit to NOT buying a new dress, new jeans, a new top for that friend’s birthday party – not buying a single item of new clothing for an entire year?
2017 is the year I’ve decided to refrain from buying any brand-spanking-new clothes. Any item of clothing accumulated in the next 12 months will come from op shops, markets, Gumtree, those Facebook pages you sell your old stuff on – or the wardrobes of friends who take pity on me! Underwear excluded. Underwear definitely excluded.
About 85% of textiles end up in land fill; clothing is the second-largest source of pollution, after oil. We are a throw-away society. Fashion manufacturers are churning out new outfits as if they are everyday consumables like milk, toothpaste and toilet paper to keep up with our appetites for the trendiest, most ‘it’ clothing. Most of it is poor quality and we put up with it because it’s also affordable. The fashion will change in a few seasons anyway, we reason.
I was speaking at an event recently and got talking to a friend. She has her own clothing brand called Rosery Apparel: every item of clothing she produces is made from re-purposed fabric (sheet, curtains, table cloths…) found at op shops and markets. Her dresses are feminine, whimsical and wonderfully vintage.
But in our brief chat I was reminded of her philosophy adopted to her own wardrobe: to purchase only pre-loved clothing.
I could do that, I thought.
No you couldn’t, was the inner rebuttal.
It could be fun!
Imagine no retail therapy perusing the racks of your favourite fashion shops, was the counter argument.
It was too late, though. The idea had sprouted and it only continued to grow and bud and flourish after that day.
I have some allies in this endeavour. My sister-in-law and mother-in-law are doing the same. And while we joke about foregoing a woman’s prerogative to shop till she drops… I’m actually looking forward to the challenge. It’s an adventure!
And I fully acknowledge that the three of us are not about to change the world’s textile landfill issues with this one measly little NY resolution, but I do hope to alter my ingrained throw-away notions, to adopt a more thoughtful and measured approach to how I spend and dress.
There are other ways of arriving at that place, of course. Buying ethical brands, for example. Buying high quality clothing in classic styles and less quantity. Taking time to repair and repurpose articles of clothing.
I’m a veteran op-shopper. A favourite pastime is spending an hour at a local thrift shop, rifling through coat hangers heavy with yesterday’s fashions. One person’s ‘daggy’ is another person’s ‘vogue’! If I walk away with a single garment, it’s a successful trip.
I love fashion, love wearing clothes that suit me, love testing the latest trends against my skin. But to every indulgence there is a cost. The cost of this particular frivolity is not only my wallet, but the manufacturer’s chain: the people at the bottom rungs weaving the fabric, dying it, cutting it, stitching it. The cost is also in the earth, the way it is treated when our refuse is offloaded.
So, we attempt to slow down those cogs and foster a wide-eyed awareness of our shopping habits and their ramifications.
What do you say – wanna join us?
Otherwise, wish us luck!
“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7