Tuesday, November 15, 2011
As part of this process, I purged my closet of things that are either grossly out of style or simply too banged-up, ripped-up, stained or pilled to be worn in public. Unlike years past when I might have just thrown things away, I'm trying to be more thoughtful. Ripped cottons were turned into rags. Beat up shoes were sent to Africa, and I'm passing out bags of clothes and gear to friends, acquaintances, and charities who can better distribute them.
But what does one buy when one wants to be conscientious? Simply the acquisition of something new means that at some point, it will need to be disposed.
Have you noticed how poorly made clothes are today? I bought three pairs of jeans on sale at Banana Republic about two years ago, and they all ripped through the knees within a year. Remember when a pair of Levis lasted a lifetime? Those days are long gone. Name brands feel like nothing more than letters printed on labels.
Even brands claiming to be eco friendly are sometimes poorly made, with fabrics that rip and snag easily or are so thin they are practically see through. What's more, many of them have been imported from abroad making me wonder if the fuel used to fly the product here cancels out the bamboo or organic cotton.
I don't mean to pan all brands. I've had great luck with Green Apple Active (often found at TJ Maxx) and my girls are wearing hand-me-down Hannah Andersson pajamas that are at least five years old and still look like new. But even these higher quality and often more expensive brands will need to go somewhere once we're done with the clothing.
Recently, I've embraced the idea of second-hard. Consignment shops are everywhere, and you can buy quality clothing and home goods. Second-hand furniture (if old enough) is far better made than the disposable, low-quality items produced today.
I'm also rethinking the idea of a 'deal' or a 'steal.' A few years ago I invested in a pricey pair of jeans. At the time, I chastised myself for spending so much. Now, years later, these jeans still fit perfectly and they don't have one hole. In the end, they were a great investment. Moving forward, I'm more likely to spend a little more if I know products are high quality and long-lasting.
Eco-friendly shopping isn't what it seems. Yes, we should embrace and support brands trying to do things differently, but at the same time, we need to remember that being eco-friendly is also about reducing consumption and reusing existing, perfectly-good products.