From time to time, I embark on a new personal challenge, something that is complementary to my mindfulness practice, although not always in a direct way. On rare occasion, I invite others to join me, and that’s what I’m doing with this one. Wondering what the challenge is? Have patience.
First, a little background. I like clothes. There, I said it. I’m a little embarrassed by this because, after all, I consider myself an environmentalist and I know what a big impact the fashion industry has on the environment. Not only that, but I’ve mentioned before how I don’t do well with clutter, yet my closet looks like a department store dressing room after black Friday – cluttered, disorganized and with a variety of styles, sizes and colors. Even though I spend under the average $1,800 – $4,800 annually on clothing, I have a hard time getting rid of some. And really, who needs four different white button ups?
Then there’s the human toll the manufacturing process takes. There’s a reason why you’re able to buy a tee shirt for $8. Giant wholesalers use unfair labor practices throughout the supply chain. That means that everyone from the farmers to the factory workers are often paid far below what is considered a living wage. They can’t meet their basic living needs for food, shelter, healthcare and other necessities. I don’t want to contribute to a system that values profit over human lives.
The good news is, there is a movement away from “fast fashion,” one that embraces sustainable fashion. Sure you pay more, but that’s because the clothing is produced using quality natural fabrics (often organic) by people earning a fair wage. For more information on the true cost of sustainable clothing read “Why Does a Sustainable T-Shirt cost $36?”
So, if you like clothes like I do, I encourage you to buy sustainable fashion, fashion that uses quality fabric, is kind to the environment, supports it’s workers and lasts. But wait, that’s not the challenge.
For my personal challenge I am not stopping there. As an environmentalist, I believe the best way to support the environment is to reduce our consumption. So, for 2022 I have a plan. I am putting aside $500 for clothing for the year. Any clothing bought must be natural fibers from a sustainable source that uses fair trade practices, so that $500 will not go very far. And here’s the kicker. At the end of the year, anything remaining from the $500 will go to an organization that supports the environment, like the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund or Natural Resources Defense Council. For me, that is added incentive not to buy any clothing.
You might wonder why I’m not including used clothing in my list of acceptable purchases. I did that one year, challenging myself to only buy used. It still fills up my closet, in fact because of the cost savings, that’s even more of a problem. So, that doesn’t work for me. But you do you.
But why? you may ask. My mission is threefold: It creates a mindfulness (awareness) to my buying practices and habits; it lessens the burden on the planet, the people and my budget; and believe it or not, I have fun with these personal challenges. That’s it! I invite you to join me. I’m giving you lots of advance notice, in case you have anything you just can’t live without. And if you’re not there yet, that’s okay too. Good luck and keep me posted!