I know we’re all familiar with that phrase. Images of dozens of shopping bags and tired (maxed out?) credit cards come to mind. More often than not, these purchases are made impulsively just to fill the need for some instant gratification. Hence, the therapy part. Of course, I’m quite guilty of this myself. I can’t even count the number of times I bought a little something due to the stress I felt stemming from school, work, or life in general and whatever other excuse I could come up with.
After I started to really (and I mean seriously) take a look at my shopping habits, I was pretty appalled to see how much of what I bought I hardly ever got around to using. Yes, a majority of them still had/have the tags impeccably attached. I’m sure I felt some sort of excitement when I saw how inexpensive it was, tried it on, and got it wrapped up at the register, but I can hardly recall. In fact, most of my not-so-impulsive purchases – you know, the ones made on very sound decisions and in an emotionally stable state – are the pieces that not only get the most wear, but actually make me happy every time I see them.
How is this possible?
When I study my closet, I can categorize clothing based on their cut, color, price, fabrication, and CPW (aka cost-per-wear). The CPW equation is quite handy when you look at how lopsided your wardrobe is. Cheaper items get little wear because they either: rip, stain, disintegrate, or all of the above. The items you put more thought into and generally, you probably paid more for, end up costing less.
However, rather than only looking at this through a superficial lens, I saw my clothing collection as one big ecological footprint. I’m all for recycling and doing what I can to help save the planet. I’ve changed the way I purchase food/groceries (the more local, the better) and I prefer buying ‘green’ products. Yet, for some reason, I completely forgot how this is applicable to the way I shop for my closet. Sure, the tags claim they’re eco-friendly cotton for example, but are they really? It still takes an immense amount of water to grow cotton. And don’t even get me started on the exploited labor force who have to pick it, clean it, weave it, dye it, wash it, and sew it. In between all these processes, they have to be shipped everywhere – needing tons of oil and producing tons of carbon emissions – to different factories and manufacturers before ending up at the store (complete with all the marketing tricks saying they’re eco-friendly). Once they’re in our hungry impulsive hands, we wear it once or twice, then toss it in the garbage.
Where’s the therapy in that?
Did I know this information then? Of course not. But with knowledge comes great responsibility.
With the new year coming up in a matter of weeks, I’m hoping that we can make resolutions to re-think the way we shop. Instead of immediately taking potential purchases to the register, ask yourself if you really need it, how many times you will wear it (be honest and realistic), and whether or not these item(s) have been made responsibly. You’ll be surprised as to how much you can curb your shopping habit and lower those credit card bills!
If you haven’t already, I suggest reading Chioma Nnadi’s article in the November issue of Vogue (American) about how Arden Wohl changed her lifestyle in order to reduce her footprint. She gave up six Balenciaga bags, two Birkins, several Prada bags, and three hundred pairs of shoes. Now, that’s some serious dedication.
Image via itsdstndx0