Hey, Bees! I'm here to talk about a topic that has personal, societal, and environmental consequences: fast fashion. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, here's a good video explaining the problem from Hasan Minhaj:
In this video, Hasan says that the average American buys 68 new pieces of clothing per year. 68! But in the 80s, we bought on average a dozen new items per year. I apparently still live in the 80s, and not just because I still have items that are that old (though I totally do. Some of my t-shirts? From the 80s. My flipflops? From the 80s. People ask me where I got flipflops with fabric straps, because you never see them anymore. I'm like, uh ...1987 or so?).
Here is a longer, more serious documentary about it:
So. What to do? Buy fewer clothes; wear them longer; buy used; buy sustainable when you can (think, organic cotton or hemp, fair trade certified, durable materials that will last, things like that). Repair and mend what you have. (cough) #needleworkmonday (cough) Buy from artisans rather than fast fashion brands - explore your fibershed!
What's a fibershed? One more video for you:
At the start of 2020
(when I first saw Hasan's video), I did an audit of everything I had bought (or was gifted) in 2019. The list came out to:
3 pairs of socks
1 pair of jeans
...that's 8 items. This year, I did the math again, and my 2020 list is:
1 pair of jeans
3 thermal shirts
1 pair of boots
1 pair of socks
5 pairs of underwear
3 face masks, if you count those as "clothes"
Which is 13 or 16 items, depending on if you count the masks.
No, I'm not showing you the underwear, lol. But if you want to know, since underwear isn't exactly something you can buy used!, I get mine from Pact Organic, which uses organic cotton and fair trade manufacture. They cost more than a cheap multipack from Walmart, but I think they're totally worth it. If you'd like to use my referral code, it will get you 20% off: https://mbsy.co/33d3vJ
Generally, most of the items from both years still feel "new" to me. I think if you're not constantly feeding that part of your brain with new things all the time, the "new" feeling lasts longer for what you do buy.
Now, I do realize there are life circumstances that can change things up, of course. Kids can grow out of clothes really fast. If you're pregnant and you don't have any maternity clothes, you need to get some that will fit you. If you've changed size for other reasons, that too. Like many people, I have had some "quarantine weight gain" this year, though I think it's less "quarantine" and more "allergies" in my case (when I first started eating my allergy-safe diet I dropped six sizes; this year I've been "cheating" and eating more convenience foods and - surprise! - gained some size back). Which is why I've already got a new pair of jeans coming in the mail for the 2021 list - in a bigger size, lol. But ya know what? I held off on doing that for months, and not just due to poverty, but because if I was gonna lose it again just as quickly, why bother with new pants? I targeted the biggest suspects in my diet first (I was drinking a lot of sugared drinks, for instance, so I cut those out). But I didn't drop it right off (alas), and the pants situation was really uncomfortable, so I gave in and bought new ones with some of my stimulus money. Some of my shirts are unflattering now, so I either wear them as under layers, or just haven't been wearing them. I have other things to wear that fit fine, especially in winter when sweaters and hoodies are so comfy.
I feel like, so much of western society - especially for those who have money - is about consumption and a "show" - looking rich, looking fashionable, looking trendy, looking cool. And fast fashion really plays into that. But it also plays into another big issue in our society, and that is people trying to "fill the void." Our society is generally so cut off from community, from meaning, from purpose, from things that really feed your soul, that often times people are just trying to get some satisfying fix, whether that comes from social validation, shopping, drugs, whatever your vice may be. I have known many people who shop because they're bored (that kinda blows my mind, tbh - I find shopping exhausting, lol), or because they get their hunter-gatherer on when they get a good deal (I do feel that a little when I score a really good coupon/rebate on my groceries!). For a multitude of reasons, I think finding what really feeds our soul and having meaningful community in our lives would solve a lot of societal ills; mass consumption is just one of them. :)
So I challenge you to be mindful of your clothing purchases this year, and maybe try your hand at mending an old favorite item that has seen better days! I myself get a little happy brain chemical reward when I successfully fix something and get to start using it again, not only because I have that sweater back in use but because I did the thing and fixed it. Maybe try that instead of the shopping happy brain chemical reward! LOL
Do you know how many clothing items you bought in 2020? Let me know in the comments! :)