Okay okay I don’t mean I got around in the nude for all of 2019, that certainly would not be setting a good example for our young child (who does actually enjoy getting around in the nude). I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, honestly I think that they set you up to fail. If you are not committing to making your change on any other given day, then why would you commit to a challenge just because it is new year’s?
Why I Went Clothes Free in 2019.
About 2 weeks into January I had a thought ‘I’ll buy no clothes for 2019’. This lightbulb didn’t just flash into my brain out of nowhere, we had already been actively trying to minimise our footprint for quite some time and therefore had been consuming more consciously, buying better and buying less.
Unless you have been under a huge pile of textiles you will recognise some of the horrific impacts our addiction to fast fashion is promoting. There is a great article from the University of Queensland here.
Here are some of the points I felt were key;
- We now purchase around 80 million pieces of new clothing each and every year.
- Australians send a staggering 85% of the textiles that we purchase each year to landfill.
- Polyester, nylon, and acrylic fabric are petroleum derivatives aka plastic!
- Aussies average 27 kilos of new textiles every year.
Most of the Aussies that I know diligently chuck their unwanted garments into bags destined for the op shop, believing they are disposing of consciously. Some of it may sell but huge quantities also end up in landfill. It’s all about quality, thrift stores have picked up on these trends to. Go op shopping today and you will see that you will be paying a lot more for a quality garment from the likes of Cue or Wittner than you would have in previous years. This is because when people go op shopping the vast majority are seeking quality items they can score for a bargain; they certainly are not after your mass produced $5 polyester top that has twisted seams after two washes.
We need to slow things right down when it comes to fast fashion. Don’t buy something just because it is five dollars! Seek out key pieces that will last for years and you will genuinely adore wearing each and every time. Better yet hit the op shops and find yourself something quality!
Consumerism at its finest.
Aside from the environmental implications it doesn’t sit well with me that we buy into a system that is trying to sell us cheap things to present ourselves in a way so we feel like we are keeping up with our peers. It is a system designed to keep us coming back for more by creating narratives in our mind that go something like this:
- You can’t possibly be seen in the same thing twice.
- This will make you look amazing you must have it.
- It is only five dollars! Who cares if you only wear it once.
I could go on but, it is probably unnecessary, you get the picture.
This year long process has taught me to repair things! I recently sewed up a pair or undies, yes you read that correctly! Okay hear me out; it was just the material had come away for the elastic and a hole developed. I hadn’t noticed and made the hole way bigger when pulling them up! Any who I sewed them up and it took literally 30 seconds on the sewing machine…I hope that they will see out 2025.
My point is an exercise like this forces you to stop buying and repair what we already have. I’m not suggesting that you should get around with holes in your underwear, if there are holes developing in places they shouldn’t be, then maybe it times for some new ones. With all the money you have saved you can then consume consciously and purchase something made with organic fabric under fair working conditions. Check out Etiko’s great range of womens underwear and mens underwear here.…but only if you actually need new underwear.
Okay that’s enough talk about undergarments, moving right along.
The Heart Ache and Head Ache of Having Too Much.
Now I have a wardrobe full of clothes and I have so much trouble deciding what to wear, and it has nothing to do with a lack of new clothes! In fact, it is the opposite, still too many clothes. Earlier in the year I cleared out my wardrobe (not as much as I would have liked) and it was sooooo easy getting dressed every day. I knew what I was going to wear without even glancing in the wardrobe, I knew all the key pieces and where they were. Now I have taken some clothing out of storage, my beautiful sister, and my very dear friend have handed me bundles of clothes that were bound for the op shop and I feel like I am back at square one. Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to be ungrateful I just need to find the balance.
Years ago when I was much more ignorant to the impacts of cheap fast fashion my efforts were in an attempt to declutter. I had a system, one thing in three things out, followed by one thing in two things out. This worked exceptionally well for decluttering, I think that I will try it again. I’ll be limiting any brand new purchases to maybe 6 a year (including underwear), or maybe I will limit myself to one kilo per year? that 27kg statistic shocked me, and that is saying something for someone who considers themselves unshockable when it comes to negative environmental stats.
Who Else Is Up For The Challenge?
I’d like to know and hear about any others that have taken similar journeys? Anyone who wants to step up to the challenge and attempt the same feat in 2020, or just your general thoughts on the matter; maybe you think I’m nuts for thinking 6 new things or 2kg a year is madness. Should I include Manchester in the 2 kilos? I think I will and I think I can do it!
For anyone else who is up for a challenge and wants to reduce their textile consumption here are seven simple tips that might help with the challenge.
- Consume consciously, stop and ask yourself is this item adding value to my life? Do I really need or want this?
- try and wait 7 days prior to purchasing. If you still really want the item or has the desire to have it passed?
- Resist fast fashion impulses and use the money for fabulous quality, ethical, and sustainable pieces.
- Can you repurpose something for what you are needing? EG, can you make some shorts out of those jeans? Can you make a cotton bag out of an old cotton tee shirt?
- Buy basic colours that go with everything. My husband has a very simple wardrobe. He generally wears a black tee shirt and jeans or shorts. When he is adventurous, he may even wear a white tee. Keep it simple!
- Thrift shops! You can get some amazing stuff. But if you don’t like buying second hand don’t fear many people donate things with the tags still on!
- Organise a clothes swap with friends.
While I hope you don’t have a fast fashion addiction, I’m a realist and many people do, if you are one of them, I hope these strategies help you ditch it!