Why I stopped Shopping during Lenten and what I Learned
Having more clothes than anyone could ever need in a lifetime, mixed up in two bursting full wardrobes in Vienna and London, I recently got a bit overwhelmed by the amount of options I had every morning if I wanted to get dressed. And still, even after hardly fitting another top between the 300 other ones, I still wanted to go out and buy some more.
Shopping is an addiction and not a nice one.
Over the past years, I shopped an enormous collection of fashion items. The last time I counted (which goes a while back) I almost hit the number 150 with shoes, a number that is actually quite shocking. Obviously, in true, I only wear about 5-10 of these shoes on a regular basis, the rest is, more or less decoration. In fact not even, as 80% of them are standing behind doors in my wardrobe in Vienna, perfectly allied, some still waiting for their first run ever on the streets.
Same goes for Jumpers, the amount of cashmere sweaters I own gives me a headache. Just because, I technically own more jumpers than there are cold days a year. So if I did this smartly, I could go through a whole fall and winter season without wearing a jumper twice.
All of this might seem like a dream come true for some, but for me, in reality, it is a huge disadvantage. Every morning I stand in front of these doors, sometimes for up to half an hour, trying to decide what goes with what, what I like, what I don't anymore and so on.
It kills the fun I once had when choosing an outfit, kills the love I have for fashion.
But the worst part is, the part that no one ever thinks off, fashion is not sustainable. Every item we buy, uses precious recourses, cotton, wool, polyester. All of these, are everything else than good for our planet and in future, our health. Having 'Ethical Issues in Fashion' over the past few weeks in college, seriously opened my eyes to what we are normally blind to.
That pretty blouse you see in the shopping window on the high street, doesn't looks pretty at all as soon as you look behind the scenes.
And it's not just bad working conditions I am talking about, it's dyes that go into out ecosystem, fibres that end up being eaten by fish, the idea that we all need more and more all the time, while others are having less every day. Fashion is not healthy, for nobody.
Because of all this, on the 14. February, the official beginning of this years lent (Fastenzeit for irgendjemand der wie ich von dem Wort verwirrt war), I decided that until the end, after easter, I would stop buying any unnecessary things. of course I had to buy some stuff, like food, household products, medicine and anything I would need for college, but for the past six weeks, I didn't buy one pair of shoes, one top, one scarf.
There was only one thing where I had to make a little exception, while being in Austria on the mountains, my sunglasses broke, the glasses where falling out, and without eye protection it is nearly impossible to go up on a sunny mountain. Beside that, I managed to not buy anything for the past weeks.
It wasn't easy, I missed the adrenaline of buying something, all that easy accessible serotonin after you picked up your shopping bag and got out of the store.
But looking back, on the list of things I did want to buy, today most of these items I wouldn't like anymore. There are a few things however that stuck with me, a classic trench coat, a pair of sneakers, one dress. But most of these things, are from 'better' labels, Reformation, Closed and Kooples. Brands that are either sustainable, of match to 100% my style.
My conclusion is, that even if fashion never will be a sustainable business, I think it's important to slow down. For me, having a list of things I like and thinking about them, rather than just going shopping every week, helps a lot. I don't just try something on and decide I like it, I think about it for several days, maybe weeks before than, buying an item that maybe costs a bit more, but will stay with me a lot longer.
In the end, all of us are just guests on this planet, and we shouldn't harm it more than necessary.