Lately I have been reading a lot of fashion posts; not in the sense of, “Buy this cute stuff for summer so you really stand out at the beach!”, but more along the lines of green/clean fashion, as in, where are your clothes coming from, what are they supporting, and what are better choices (i.e. Who made my clothes). This, as with most things, made me think again about our out of control media and consumer culture, and the waste that comes along with it.
Admittedly, I used to have a shopping problem about 10 years ago; I lived in Calgary. It was straight out of highschool, and Alberta was where the work was at; that is what I wanted to do before I committed to further education. I ended up working retail, as many of us do when we start out on our career path of finding out where we belong and where we are happy. First, I worked for a luggage company, and then I worked for a shoe company; shoes sent me into a spending spiral. Each paycheck I would go to the mall I worked at, or the bigger ones in the city, and spend money on trendy clothes and shoes. I would drop $800 at IKEA in one trip. I still did other activities, but most of my outings involved shopping with friends; all of my outings involved spending money.
Then life happened. In retrospect, I could not be more grateful for shit hitting the fan in 2008. I made a sudden decision to leave my job, move out of the city, and fly to England for a year to live with my mother. My dad drove from B.C. to help me pack up my things in his Tacoma; with limited space, I could take my furniture pieces, kitchen supplies, but I had to siphon out what was least important, namely… clothes and shoes.
It was my first real closet purge; suddenly I had to rid myself of this accumulated stuff that I thought I cared so much about. How could I get rid of my beloved shoes? It was easier than I thought, as my mind was cluttered with bigger things, so the smaller things did not matter much anymore. I donated three big bags full of clothes and shoes; hopefully someone has enjoyed them much more than I ever could have. The funny thing is, I barely remember any of the pieces I gave away, which makes me think… how important could they have really been?
My life started to take a much more healthy approach, not just in my spending habits, but also in regards to food, environmental choices, and relationships. After being in England for a year and gathering myself at Hotel Mom, I made the best decision: move back to B.C. where the wild things roam and grow, and go to university; it’s now or never. This has proven to be a very positive life decision!
In the last three years, life has changed even more drastically as zero waste entered my life. My lifestyle has changed for the better. Would I ever go back? NOPE.
It is vital to note that you do not need stuff to fill your life; it will never make you as happy as you think it will. What you need are experiences with people or animals you care about, or just moments with yourself in which you are at peace and being mindful of your surroundings. Stop, breathe, and remove the clutter.
I have talked a lot about having a connection with nature in previous posts (see my treehugger post). I cannot stress how important this is to a balanced mind. Every time I step out in nature, the earth pulls me back down to reality and gives me perspective. It shines a brighter light on current circumstances, and helps me check in not only with myself, but also with my surroundings; I can hear the birds, I can feel the wind, I can breathe the sweet air, and I can see colours so bright I can nearly taste them.
Go ahead and take a look at your life for a minute. What makes you happy? What are you grateful for? What are things that truly matter? And when was the last time you took a walk and stopped to smell the flowers?