Feeling Good Without Spending

A month and a half ago I read the book Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas. It was an excellent read, not because I was unaware of what went on in the fashion world but because it gave me the push I needed to make my protest of the industry’s practices heard through keeping my dollars firmly in my bank account. We’ve all heard the horrors of fast fashion, from sweatshops and child labor, to unsafe work conditions, to the enormous amount of resources required. While we’re experiences droughts and devastating wildfires regularly we are wasting millions of litres of water annually on t-shirts. It’s humbling and depressing, all in one.

Where our horrible $5 tops all end up. No thanks.

However upsetting reading books like this is, it’s important that we do. We cannot hope to make changes without seeing the adverse effects our personal choices are having on other people and the planet as a whole. I’m willing to bet most people have enough clothes in their closets to last them many years, if the rest of their lives, without needing to replenish them. But we are programmed to buy more and more and more in a quest to find fulfillment and social acceptance. One good trend I have seen is more and more people are into thrifting, which is awesome, but when the fashion giants are pumping out shitty quality clothing that is destined for the landfill thrifting isn’t going to get us out of this.

For me, the big shift came when I really started crunching the numbers for financial independence. This was only a couple of months ago, when I stopped drinking, which had the ripple effect of saving me so much money that I wondered where else I could cut down. I don’t actually buy that many clothes – maybe two pairs of pants and five shirts a year (I tend to wear the exact same things every week) – so I had never felt guilty about my purchases from a financial perspective, but now I am even more incentivized to keep my dollars invested instead of supporting such a harmful and wasteful industry. It would be a stretch to say I will never buy new clothes again, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that I would never buy brand new clothes again. By this I mean I would embrace thrifting and second-hand shopping as my go to wardrobe replenisher.

However, since I am now watching each transaction like a hawk and questioning my actual needs, I am now determined to go at least a year without buying anything new for myself, including thrifted items. I have enough socks and underwear to go three weeks without needing to launder them – that’s a fucking lot of pieces of cloth. I have a drawerful of t-shirts and tops that are cute but I don’t wear, and I have enough workout gear to last several years of heavy duty exercise. I have no need of anything new, now do I particularly want anything new (mainly because I don’t want to put anything extra on my credit card).

I’ve never really enjoyed shopping, but now I can feel good knowing that while I may have inadvertently supported fast fashion in the past, I no longer need to. I can keep the clothes I already have and make them look great. I can build my road to financial independence without feeling guilty about buying clothing from corporations that are only interested in the bottom line. When I do eventually need to buy something because everything else is worn out, I will be able to afford to buy from the numerous companies that are more sustainable and offer better working and pay conditions to its employees.

I truly believe that individuals can make a difference when they have the means to. If we can tweak our fashion habits, even just a little, it would cause a massive ripple effect and keep money in our pockets, children and people with few options out of sweat shops, and shitty once-worn clothes out of the landfill. Not trying to sound sanctimonious, but it feels pretty fucking good to be a part of that.

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