real solutions: part 3, chronicle your consumption

Did you forget about the Real Solutions series? I didn’t actually know where I was going with it, but the past few months have clarified my specific struggles as a consumer:

I want too much and I buy too much. 


As I’ve said before, Style Wise can’t just be about fair trade fashion. It has to tackle consumerism at its root. It has to fundamentally and radically change the way we see ourselves and the way we spend our money. Fast fashion thrives because it preys on our addiction to things.

So, I’ve come up with a reasonably simple way to pay attention to my shopping habits. Starting today, I’m taking a photo of each item I buy and putting it in a file folder on my desktop. I’ll label each photo by the month I purchase it so that I can also keep track of how much I buy per month. I think the visual will expose where my money is going and how well I’m following my own ethical guidelines.

The additional payoff of chronicling my purchases is that I’ll have a very clear way to keep track of what types and styles of clothing I own so that I won’t be tempted to buy another blue and white striped shirt or navy dress (I have mini collections of both already).

shopping journal

I’ve laid out my process in a concise manner below in case you’re interested in taking the same approach:

  1. Buy something.
  2. Take it home, lay it out, and take a photo of it.
  3. Upload it to your computer and save it in a new file folder; mine’s called “Purchases.”
  4. Save the photo under a name that helps you keep track of the purchase date or month; I’m primarily concerned with monthly consumption, so I labeled my first two photos, “apr1” and “apr2.”
  5. If you want to take it a step further, you can write out your thoughts and struggles throughout the process in a word document and save it within the same file folder.
  6. Recognize patterns, feel organized, change your spending habits.

This process will have to be a (mostly) private one for me because publicizing purchases has led me to purchase even more in the past. I ultimately want to want less and have less. I want to feel less tied down to the burden of greed and reckless consumerism.

If you have thoughts on this topic or have found ways to reduce your consumption, please let me know in the comments. 

image source: get write down to it (could not find original source)

About Leah

Leah Wise is a member of FIRE in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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