Well, internet access in Germany has been a big of a “back-to-the-1990s” experience. But we found out McDonald’s has wi-fi so I am back in the blogging business. As promised, this year will bring more posts with a focus on living more simply, exciting vegetarian/vegan recipes and tips (that I’ve been practicing with here in Germany), and ongoing reflections on Unitarian Universalism.
Today, I start with living more simply and a breathtaking announcement: I have resolved to buy no new clothes for the next year. This might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it is to me and here are the reasons.
First, this saves money. I won’t say how much I have spent on clothes in the last year – I don’t think it would be considered extravagant by most Americans, but certainly it would be if I think about the salaries of my friends in Nicaragua. Living in the Boston area is very expensive as it is, and W. and I would love to buy a house or condo in the next five years, so every little bit counts.
Second, this contributes less to resource usage and a more simple life. It might not be a huge reduction in the scheme of the world, but is anything we do by ourselves a huge reduction? It’s about doing what we can and hoping that others are doing their part too.
Mostly, for me, this is about letting go of worldly attachments. I’ve always loved buying clothes, but also always had this sense that it was money that I didn’t have to spend and that it was sort of vein. Who am I to get so much joy from spending as much on an outfit as my friends in Nicaragua make in a month? It is a small gesture of solidarity with those who do not have the luxury of going to the mall (or Target) for fun. There are so many needs in the world, and new clothes for me shouldn’t be high on my list.
There is such an emphasis in our culture of getting “stuff” to make ourselves feel better. I feel like my desire for an going rotation of new clothes (even if they are relatively cheap or even used) is a luxury that I’ve always allowed myself, justifying it by telling myself that I buy things on sale, don’t spend nearly as much as some friends, and it is one of my few indulgences…but I have always felt how superfluous it is and how I don’t like how much enjoyment I get from getting more and new “stuff.”
I will make an exception to get a dress for the wedding of my sister-in-law in July. And it does not apply to a limited amount of accessories – I need a pair of boots, will need socks, underwear, and I need a coat. But, buy saving money overall, I can afford to buy the more expensive fair-trade, organically produced versions of the few accessories I will get.
I’ll write a monthly reflection on the year with no more clothes. I welcome don’t-buy-clothes buddies who want to join me. Or don’t buy _______ (whatever it is that you’ve decided to give up for reasons of $, simplicity, or solidarity).
So far, after four days, so good. Not a single textile purchase, even after walking past my beloved H&M in Luxembourg City.