I decided after watching The Minimalists on Netflix that I would go 1 year without buying a single article of clothing (excluding undergarments, and wedding obligations). The whole point is to save money, while also getting the most out of what you have.
Here’s what I’ve realized in the short amount of time I have done this:
I’m saving a TON of money – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “average” American household spends around $1,700 on clothing a year, or about 3.5% of an annual salary. I know that isn’t much to some people. For me, $1,700 is $1,700 on savings, and paying debt.
It’s Ethical – When you stop buying clothing, you stop contributing to an industry that exists off the backs of impoverished countries. More often than not, off the backs of female factory workers being paid around $38-$100 (varies by country) a month to crank out as much clothing as possible, to be sold at big box stores for 100% mark up. Factory conditions are sub-par, and with labor and production costs dirt cheap, it’s impossible to keep western countries out. While offering jobs and a way out of poverty for some, the reality is that conditions are unhealthy, wages are low, and child labor still exists.
It’s Green – Fast Fashion means low prices. Low prices mean cheap materials. Cheap materials mean Polyester, which is made from fossil fuels, and found in 50% of all clothing. It’s described as ‘energy intensive’ and doesn’t biodegrade. So these clothes that are being rapidly made are creating a giant carbon footprint in developing countries. 10% of the WORLDS carbon footprint comes from the apparel industry, while also being the 2nd largest polluter of fresh water. Trashing your clothing also comes at an environmental price — Chemicals from all of the clothes (think dyes and bleaching) leech into water. Incinerators also release hazardous toxins into the atmosphere.
3 pairs of jeans are more than enough – I don’t wash jeans every single time I wear them. Having two “nice” pairs of quality jeans is sufficient to last an entire week. The third pair are when I need to feel extra comfy.
I don’t have the urge to shop – In December I was given a bonus. James and I immediately went to Target. The entire time we were driving there we were stoked to spend money. After all, we hadn’t spent any money in Target in a year. We bought $60 collectively, and four of the items were things we actually needed around the house. I felt so guilty for not enjoying myself, but the reality is that spending money in stores like that doesn’t bring me happiness like it used to. I’ve realized since then, that it’s ok to not want to go shopping. It’s ok not to buy things. That’s not how I want to spend my time, or my money. I don’t have the urge to go to Target anymore, or the mall, or resell shops. It’s just not on my ‘to-do.’
I basically wear T-shirts, shorts, and jeans – I don’t wear my full closet. I don’t know how anyone wears their full closet. I know it’s just been one month, but I honestly wear the basics. I think I’ve worn two out of the 50 dresses I own in 31 days.
No one cares – Literally no one gives a crap about what you are wearing. At all. I’m not saying that it’s not nice to get dressed up, but it doesn’t somehow add value to who you are as a person. It doesn’t make you nicer, or richer, or intrinsically more beautiful. If you want to dress up, dress up for you. Don’t do it for others, because they’re more concerned about themselves than the shirt you’re wearing.