Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Is Not Shopping Sustainable?

A lot of times when a person engages in a one-year challenge, it's assumed to be a stunt. A stunt that cannot be continued over the long term.

When I began my non-shopping challenge I wasn't sure how long I could keep it up, but I assumed that it would be hard to continue for more than a year.

However, two and a half years after I started this challenge, I'm beginning to believe not shopping is a fairly sustainable option.

Sort of.

Let me explain. I still rarely shop. When I do, I engage in throes of agony. Do I really, really, REALLY need this shirt? I know it's only $20, but do I really need it? Do I love it? Will I wear it a lot?

Most of the time I don't need or love the shirt enough to deal with the ensuing guilt. So I exit the store sad and empty-handed.

But I still need to, you know, wear clothes. And clothes wear out. Weight fluctuates. Put simply, one cannot just rely on one's wardrobe from 3+ years ago.

Enter my friends.

See, most of my friends still shop. They're not shoppers, per se. They don't go to the mall every weekend. They aren't competing with Carrie Bradshaw for number of shoes. But still. They do buy new clothes and then they have old clothes that they want to get rid of.

So they give them to me.

In the past year, I've revamped my wardrobe simply by going through my friends' Goodwill bags. The white and black cardigans I wear everyday? Came from my friends. The black ballet flats? My sister. Those nice work pants? Yup, that once belonged to a friend.

So, yeah, I can continue to update my wardrobe and not shop ... with a little help from my friends. It's not a sustainable life for everybody ... obviously if all my friends were like me and never shopped and wore their clothes until they were falling apart, I wouldn't be able to pick up new clothes from their Goodwill bags. And every so often, I do cave, and buy that $20 shirt from Banana.

But the truth is, I need fewer clothes than I ever thought before I started this challenge.

So, not shopping. Sorta sustainable. At least for me.


Cath@VWXYNot? said...

When I was a student, my friends and I would have a clothes swap about once a year or so. We'd have pizza and drinks at someone's house, and we'd all bring the clothes that no longer fit or were otherwise unwanted. The things that no-one wanted went to charity, but usually everyone found at least one new item.

Unfortunately, my friends these days are either much slimmer or much taller than me (sometimes both. Grrrrrr). As my sister put it when she met my friends at my wedding: "Are all Canadian women giants? Or just the ones you know?" But it is a fantastic idea for people with friends in a compatible size range!

Rosa said...

I have a friend who organizes the BEST clothing swaps. I'm going to one in about a week. She has fashionable friends and a shopping problem herself -every time I'm there, she loads me down with clothes.

Sometimes I wonder how long we could all get by if there were a worldwide new-clothing moratorium. A year? Two? For preschoolers and infants it might be more like 10.

Billie said...

I shop a lot less than I ever thought possible. I have what I consider to be a fairly bare bones closet and normally only shop when I wear an article of clothing out. Sometimes I shop at the thrift store for it and sometimes I hit the sales rack. It all depends on what I am looking for. I don't think you can not shop at all, but you can certainly reduce it.

Katy said...

I find that not shopping is sustainable only because after dramatically cutting back on what I buy and realizing that I could furnish an entire appartment with one used $50 couch and a butt load of free stuff my friends no longer needed, its really hard to shell out my cold hard cash for stuff I could get used for way less.

It is hard sometimes. I saw a really cool shirt this weekend that I desperatly wanted to own, but then I looked at the $30 price tage and realized that I just love my money more than I love that shinny new thing.

Andy Swetz said...

I admire your realistic approach to the situation. There simply is no way you can go without buying at least the essentials to new annual clothing but that fact that you reuse old cloths is great. By doing this you not only demonstrate the beauty of recycling but you also save money. Hopefully this will encourage some of your friends to try out this second hand method and introduce them to the idea that thinking before buying and having a conscious role in the ultimate use of clothing is extremely important. I salute you and your efforts.

Allen Loughman said...

I know what it's like to get Hand-me-downs, though I dont know if that's what you'd call them in your instance.

When I was younger my parents used to buy everything new for me, because I was the first born. But once I grew up enough to the point where I could wear my father's old clothing, that's what they did. I wear his old shirts, because it saves money.

I don't mind it really, they're comortable and fit me well. So, it's not really much of a sacriice to save money.

Jennie said...

I find that I despise clothes shopping so much and don't like to spend money that I end up buying those clothes that are on sale-because they are on sale and then I really don't like the item and rarely wear it. Or I continue to wear it but feel very unfashionable. I hope to someday hire a personal (eco)shopper.

Lisa Nelsen-Woods said...

My favorite place to shop is the consignment shop - so I don't have to dig through the ratty clothes for the stuff that's in good condition to wear to work, etc. I think there's someone who sells her clothes to that shop who's my size and taste, because it's the only place I can find clothes that fit me. Guilt free!

Amica said...

hmm...these must be very good friends of yours. ::wink::

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