It was the latest arrival of a package in the mail that finally did it.
My Dad remarked that the Australia Post contractor who delivered parcels in our area was becoming so familiar with our address, he and Dad would exchange a knowing look with each other as my Dad accepted yet another delivery.
“Another one for Emma?” my Dad would ask.
The contractor would nod wearily as Dad signed for whatever my latest mail-order purchase was.
And, as always, I grabbed the scissors and tore open the parcel to find new clothes. An exciting new thing to wrap around myself, made from a luxurious fabric or in a gorgeous rich colour or with an excellent flattering cut. And then I would need to find somewhere to store it in my increasingly overcrowded, overstuffed wardrobe which was practically bursting at the seams and rapidly running out of spare coat hangers.
On this occasion, there were no spare hangers.
Lately the highs of my new purchases had been accompanied by a stab of guilt, as I watched my bank balance drop and my clothing options expand. I had so many clothes. Far more than I really needed – and yet I still bought more.
I needed to stop.
The tipping point came when I uncovered the Australian Fashion Report published in 2013 by Baptist World Aid Australia and Not For Sale. I scrolled through until I found a chart that gave my favourite clothing brands a score, grading how well they were doing with ensuring the rights of their workers and supply chain traceability. The vast majority of them scored very poorly.
And so I’ve decided to try something a bit radical. I’m going to try and go a full year without buying new clothes.
- I need to save money. I know I don’t need any more new things, and my financial situation could be very different next year. Plus I want to save for travel…and my wedding in December.
- It’s a bad habit I need to break. If anything I need to downsize my wardrobe, considering I’ll be moving to a smaller living space at the end of the year.
- I want to get out of the mindset of constant consumption and try to steer my purchasing decisions towards more ethical retailers – both for the sake of the workers who make my clothes, and for the sake of the environment generally.
And while I hope that I don’t need to, these are the exceptions I’ll allow for:
- Basic items like underwear, tights, leggings and workout gear when it gets too worn out and needs replacement.
- Staple items that are worn out or broken past the point of repair. This happens a lot with shoes, such as my black flats or boots that I wear almost every day. Superglue and having the soles/heels replaced can only go so far.
- If I need to buy an item for a specific need and I don’t already have something that will suit. For example, I’m thinking of taking up swimming to get fit, but I only have two-pieces that are fine for the beach, but not for doing laps. Or if we end up travelling somewhere that requires sturdy hiking shoes. And no, “but I didn’t already have a black button down shirt and needed to fill that requirement” is not an example of an acceptable ‘specific need’.
- Wherever possible, I’ll check out op shops (thrift stores) or eBay first.
Considering how I’ve managed to fail with the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation thing and with the ‘no spending on unnecessary items for the month of June‘ thing…I hope that I can actually stick to this thing.
I hope that by the end of it, I will have saved money, actually worn all of the clothes I already own, and feel more inspired to consume less – or at least spend my consumer dollars as ethically as I can.