spring cleaning


An important part of sustainable living is avoiding unnecessary purchases. It’s something I hadn’t considered when I started my fair trade journey a few years ago, but it might be one of the most important habits to adopt in the long run. Reducing my overall consumption in terms of how many things I buy is awesome because it naturally reorients my spending. It gives me the freedom in my budget to save up for fair trade options I really want instead of making stupid impulse purchases at every thrift store in town. It also gives me the wiggle room to invest in non-material things like traveling or just spending the afternoon reading instead of shopping around.

I went through my closet yesterday and realized I don’t even wear a dozen pairs of shoes I own. The fact that I can get rid of a dozen pairs of shoes without making a real dent in my collection is baffling! I also found 8 or so varieties of the same knit shirt that I never wear. Granted, many of them were thrift store finds, but acquiring them wasted time and money better spent elsewhere.

I think the desire to dress creatively is great, but there’s a tricky balance between wanting to be fashionable and buying responsibly. I think it’s ok to infuse my wardrobe with the occasional kooky thrift store purchase, but even when shopping on the secondhand market, I need to weigh the practicality and long term potential of each item before pulling out the credit card. Sigh. It’s an ongoing battle, but I am making progress. I’m learning how to work toward my goals as a consumer and conscientious citizen of the world without all the unproductive guilt trips I used to take myself on.

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About Leah

Leah Wise is a member of FIRE in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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2 Responses to spring cleaning

  1. Catherine says:

    I am really beginning to understand this concept now, too. I’m doing the 6-for-4 challenge this month and only wearing 6 pieces of clothing in May. I’m also not supposed to buy any clothes. We’re halfway through the month and I do have a couple of things I’d like to buy, but I can’t wear them now anyway, so there’s no point. Wearing only 6 pieces has also shown me that I can make due with a lot less. I know I shop online when I’m stressed or sad sometimes, and taking a step away from that has helped me see it’s the thrill of shopping I loved more than the actual item itself.

  2. Sonya Mann says:

    You make good points. On the bright side, once people in my life found out that I like clothes, they started just giving me stuff.

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