Updated: Nov 27, 2019
A few weeks ago I went down a rabbit hole on Instagram, and I made a discovery.
There was a small movement in the UK called #SecondhandSeptember, and I was super excited. I knew right away I was ALL IN to jump on board. The concept is to take the month of September to do no NEW shopping, but shop only at thrift/vintage/charity shops. No newly manufactured clothes and goods for the whole month.
Now surely there are many of you who are totally confident to do a whole month of no shopping, whether new or used. There were many years when I would have agreed with you, but over the past few I have definitely become more of a "shopper." I used the stolen moments while my youngest was in preschool to roam shops. Actually, I was primarily wandering TJMaxx, thanks to its favorable proximity to the school. Not mad about it. At any rate, my shopping had been on the uptick. So this experiment has not only environmental implications, but speaks to our (read: my) consumerism and need to find satisfaction in new things. So, a whole month of no new, while not too intimidating was still a little intimidating. But I was ready. I immediately posted to my Instagram that I was taking part in this UK experiment and kicking it off in the States! Nothing like a little public accountability to keep me in check. ;)
I went about my (now kid-free thanks to SCHOOL) days like usual, but I stayed out of stores. But, of course my interest was peaked as I followed this hashtag (curse you, Instagram, for your time-sucking-ability) and after a few days of seeing other people shop used, I had to head out to see what treasures I could find.
I have learned the hard way that if you fall in love with something at a thrift shop, you HAVE to buy it. Like, HAVE to. Because each piece is "one of a kind" in the sense that you may not run across it again. It makes you feel competitive, in a way. It's a like a sport. I don't play sports, so I am guessing BTW, but I say it with enthusiasm. In that first thrift trip, I found a Zara scarf-print satin dress, a crew neck cashmere sweater, and a fabulous 1980s vintage Joan Collins-type, massive shoulder pad sequin dress. SPECTACULAR.
One simply DOES NOT pass up thrift shop sequins.
These were excellent wardrobe additions. Though I have no parties in my near future to which I will wear the sequin dress, I stand by the decision to buy it. Really, friend, sometimes you just have to enjoy yourself. Perhaps I will be the best dressed parent at our upcoming conferences with my kids' teachers (it could happen). It was happiness on sale for $9. I was thrilled with my purchases. And even on that trip, I put a few things that I really liked back on the rack. See? I am getting better already. jk
The whole point of my participating in Secondhand September was to heighten my own awareness of my consumerist habits--and I love any excuse to go thrift shopping, as well so I considered it a win-win. It did rekindle a love affair with Goodwill. YAAAASSSSS. I did make a couple of other trips (see the goods here) to thrift during the month (September is looooong, y'all), but I was more careful with my choices than I normally would have been. More thought = better. The US makes up more than 28% of the clothing purchased annually world wide. In the 1950's Americans purchased on average, less than 25 new items of clothing per year. Currently, the number is about 70 new items. Whoa.
This has made me hyper-aware everytime I wanted to buy something, which was, admittedly, often. Not proud about it, just being honest. For example, when I was roaming Target and might have just thrown the $5 earrings into my cart, or a beautiful lipstick, or some moisturizer that just smelled yummy...I just didn't do it. I left it on the shelf. It was both disappointing and strangely liberating.
Personally, I don't thrift for environmental reasons, but I know many people do so. There is so much waste produced by clothing manufacturers, and culturally, we tend to purchase waaaay more than we need. I am guilty. Truly. I am not claiming to be the exception here.
To be honest I didn't NEED to shop AT ALL during September. But to embrace the constraint of shopping to only used items made a for a fun challenge. All of this has got me thinking more about my own habits--which to keep and which to break, and that is always a good thing.
What about you? What habits have you examined lately? I want to know!
xo, Ann Marie