What I learned from my year of no shopping: a clothing shopping ban
Have you ever been curious about what would change if you stopped making purchases beyond what you needed? I am not talking about financial because we all know that would just lead to more money, but the other effects of not making purchases. While I didn’t walk into my clothing shopping ban with the intention of not buying clothes or simplifying, I walked away with a lot of perspective on purchasing items. Here is what I learned from my year of no shopping, I hope that it can help you on your own simplifying or minimalist journey.
I use to love to shop and buy new clothes. Matter of fact, I did it every week for years. It was therapy and a great way to pass the time with friends. I can’t even tell you how much money I spent on frivolous purchases. Then life happened. As we were looking toward the future, we had to cut our spending and anything that wasn’t an absolute necessity had to go!
*As of the initial time of this writing, it had been one year since I had purchased new clothes. Full transparency though, I received 2 pairs of jeans for Christmas. I didn’t have but one pair that fit and it was time for a new pair!
Were there any shopping ban rules?
I know a lot of people walk into a shopping ban intentionally. You determine a date to start and a date to stop. Since I started my clothing shopping ban out of pure necessity, the only “rule” was that I couldn’t spend anything. I let someone buy me a Christmas present and that was amazing!
If you are looking to do a shopping ban for some other reason than necessity, put some kind of rules on it. Being flexible if you need to is a good way to ensure that you stick to the plan and are not hating life. If you are on your journey towards a more minimalist life, a shopping ban will be a great kickstart! Set aside $50 just in case you need a new pair of running shoes since your dog ate yours, or your work requires a special outfit (or something similar).
3 things: what I learned from my year of no shopping
The financial impact of a clothing shopping ban
I have learned that I can be even more frugal than I was before, you can get a ton of stuff used if you just look, and the social (not to mention environmental) impact of buying used is lessened which is great!
I have been pretty frugal for a while now. While I do subscribe to the “buy better buy less” movement, I also fully realize that not all things have to be nice or new. When I buy used, I shop around pretty much everywhere. ThredUp, Clothes Mentor, and upscale second hand stores are my go to for my own clothing. If you are done wearing some of your clothes, take them in to a resale shop and get some money too!
If I am looking for clothes for the kiddo, yard sales, Craigslist, clothing swaps, and thrift shops are pretty awesome! And now, Facebook swap or for sale sites are so flooded with items that you can get for super cheap that there are not many things you absolutely need to buy new.
The social impact of a clothing shopping ban
Have you thought much about who is making your clothes or what their life is like? Reading the tags with the country of origin, do you ever consider what life is like there? How about the price of the shirt you bought at Target, have you considered how they make it sooooo stinking cheap?
These are some of the questions that came flooding into my own mind when I stopped buying clothes. I will admit that I watched “The True Cost” around this time which is a documentary about the clothing industry. If you need a change of heart with your shopping, just watch this one. It goes into a full discussion of the Rana Plaza collapse, which was a garment factory for many big name brands, that happened in 2013 killing over 1,100 people.
The term “fast fashion” is relatively new and relates to the longevity of our clothing styles and therefore our wardrobes. Everything is changing at such lightning fast speed that we have to be constantly changing in order to keep up with the trends. Fashion is no different. We demand that we have lower costs on clothing because we think we need so many clothes and that we have to change them out frequently.
This demand for low cost clothing is hurting one group and I will give you a hint that it is not the CEO of the clothing company. The companies are short changing the seamstresses and other people on the production line. Garment workers get paid, but not enough for living decently. They work longer hours than we would ever imagine on a day to day basis. They work in some of the worst conditions including a crumbling building like Rana Plaza. Rana Plaza was just one of the many instances of the horrible work conditions that these garment workers face.
Modern day slavery, child labor, lack of fair wages, abuse, and horrible working conditions is just the tip of the iceberg. We cannot begin to fathom what these workers go through. I try to keep abreast of this topic because it is so important. If you are interested in learning more about modern day slavery, check out IJM. They are an amazing group of people that work to stop slavery. I personally love this company and I hope you will too!
The environmental impact of a clothing shopping ban
A look at the environmental aspect of fast fashion shows us that clothing is made with a slew of chemicals, dyes, and pollutants that are just wasted into our precious earth. When you pay little for your clothing, know that the companies are paying little to no amount towards environmental costs. They dump a lot of the waste into local rivers and large bodies of water. These bodies of water are typically where people bathe. Dumping is irresponsible, but not illegal in some countries.
Did you know that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton for 1 pair of jeans? 1…pair… that is nuts! Really! Just imagine how much water we are wasting when we buy a pair of jeans and then get rid of them after a few wears.
Shopping post shopping ban
I was extremely effected by what I learned during my year of no shopping. Since then, I have made not only a pact with myself, but a complete mindset shift in the way that I make purchases. It took a shopping ban for me to realize that I shopped too much. It took a year without buying clothes for me to gain perspective on how my purchases where effecting others lives.
What I learned during my year of no shopping was that I need to be more selective in what I buy. This means that I look at the way the item was made, what company produced it and what their ethics are. It also means that I only buy the bare minimum of what I need. I was never a fashionista anyway so buying less clothing isn’t really that big of a deal. The results from my clothing shopping ban have really spilled over into other areas of my life which is great for trying to simplify my home and save money!
If you are looking to do a shopping ban I hope this gives you encouragement and some insight. Just remember that the outcome is far more important that sticking to your rigid rules. Learn something about yourself and discover more reasons to simplify your own life.