Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Have and have-nots... and have too muches

For this project, each of us has spent some time deliberating on sacrifices we can make as individuals, in addition to what we can do as a group. So here's a little bit about one of the sacrifices I'm making, and why.

First, a little background. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself a shopaholic, but I am a serious bargain hunter. And a pack rat. These two things combined mean that I have a propensity towards bringing home some really great deals... that sit around in my closets or on my shelves for eons, taking up a great deal of space but not really doing much good. Recognizing this and trying to rein things in a bit, I have become more and more aware of (and subsequently repulsed by) the materialism so heavily pushed and reinforced in our society. (Really? I "must have" an all new wardrobe each and every season? I have to have the latest, most up-to-date version of every gadget? Whatever happened to using something until it was no longer useable before replacing it?) Despite my weakness for a bargain, however, I also believe in paying for quality. And I have been extremely frustrated in recent years by the lack of quality I get for my money.

From one clothing retailer in particular, and not an inexpensive one, I have been increasingly frustrated by the declining quality of their merchandise. Checking labels, I see that these clothes are being made in places like Vietnam, Pakistan, India and Israel. I am by no means saying that quality products don't come out of these countries. Nonetheless, it does make me wonder under what conditions are my clothes being made? If quality control has clearly fallen by the wayside for the sake of profit, what else may be being overlooked? Under what conditions, including worker conditions, are these items being made and shipped overseas to our consumer hungry nation?

While I intend to investigate these questions over the next several weeks, in the meantime, I have undertaken the personal challenge of eliminating a minimum of 100 articles of clothing from my wardrobe. There are far too many people, in this community and worldwide, who lack even basic items, for my closets to be overflowing with clothes I've only worn once or twice (or never, in some cases). Aside from some of the more obvious ones like Goodwill or The Salvation Army, there are some really great organizations out there that help to distribute specific types of clothing to those in need. I hope to share some information here soon. Additionally (and here's the hard part!) I will not be buying any non-essential clothing items for the remainder of the year. No matter how great the deal, if I don't need it, I won't buy it. Trust me, this was already tested over Labor Day weekend while shopping with my sister!

I'll keep you updated on my progress as I start sifting through and letting go. Support group recommendations, anyone?

(*For those wondering what I mean by non-essential, that's pretty much everything. However, my big feet tend to wear through socks pretty quickly; being without a car, I'm in need of some good walking shoes; and costume items for my dance troupe, as necessary.)

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