Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Developing a Sustainable Shopping Ethic

          A few weeks ago I began the 100 thing challenge after reading some great articles on others who had done the same. My living situation has been in limbo for several weeks now, so I thought there was no better time than now, when I had to move everything and go through it all anyway, to begin a more conscious effort to reduce my consumption. I honestly didn't realize how few things I had, or that the bulk of my personal items existed in clothing. 
         As I began going through my things, I started cataloging everything, noting what needed replaced due to wear. Next was the clothing box. Because of my move, it was literally just a giant overflowing tote of fashion, ready to be passed on to others who needed it more than me. 
         Normally, clothing is something I have a bit of a hard time parting with. I model on the side, and you never know when you will need a certain item for a shoot. In the myriad of small projects to better myself I am participating in, one is the 101 in 1001. This really cool idea is explained here at the 1010 in 1001 site. Coincidentally, one of my goals was to "be a little trendy." The goals need to be specific, and the rules for this one were to first make a list of desired clothing items based on a couple hours of research. The next step was to try and find all of those pieces. I searched trends, classic looks I loved, and basic guides from About.com on how to shop for clothing. Another favorite of mine is DIY fashion. This is a great guide to get you started, DIY Fashion: Customize and Personlize. My own personal guide was a bit different, because one of my other goals is to strictly buy clothing secondhand only for 120 days (a goal that has been extended from 60 days), however the principles listed were good. 
        How many of us really know how to shop for clothing? Especially for a minimalist, where every clothing item needs to serve several purposes and looks, it is vital we understand our wardrobe needs and how to fulfill them, while staying committed to our principles. For anyone who doesn't know where to begin with their requirements for what I like to call a sustainable fashion ethic - an ethic that seems small, but it's important to me - here is my personal list of rules for buying.

My new rules for buying (in order):
Look for desired item for free on craigslist.
Try to barter for item on craigslist.
Buy item secondhand, from a local thrift store.
Buy item secondhand, from a mainstream thrift store.
If item cannot be found secondhand, consider if I really need it. If I do, buy from a local vendor.

           The best part of this simple, little list is that you can apply to anything you want. Really. Anything. Ever heard of the guy who traded a red paper clip for a house? And, you don't have to use Craigslist. I live in Portland, however, and Craigslist is king for finding free stuff. Since I have no furniture, I plan on getting everything I need at my new place for free, or potentially barter, off of this glorious site for the frugal. 

          What else do you think would contribute to a sustainable shopping ethic? What are your personal rules for buying? 


  1. Facinating! I am trying to reduce the clutter in my house and have been thinking thoughts like "Do I really need this?" as I look over all my stuff.

    Way to set an example and lead, Dusti! Very impressive!


  2. It can be a hard question to answer at first. Figuring out the difference between what you need versus what just looks nice to your peers can be tough to determine.