At the beginning of 2019, I made a few resolutions I did my best to keep throughout the whole year. Some of these ideas stuck with me more than others.
I made a resolution to read at least one book per month – I did read over 12 books last year, but I didn’t technically read one book per month. It still sort of counts though, right?
I made another resolution to watch at least one documentary per month. I was never really big on documentaries – my thinking was that if I wanted to sit down on a couch and relax and watch something, I wanted to watch something mindless, not something that felt like work. By the end of 2019, I had only watched about 8 or 9 documentaries.
The problem was that I often didn’t know what kind of documentaries to watch. Obviously, if I found something to be boring or past my level of comprehension (I’m…not so good at the science-based documentaries, for example), I wouldn’t care to finish watching it.
But I was lucky. At the very beginning of 2019, the first documentary I watched is one that really connected with me. It’s one I still think about often.
In January 2019, I watched The True Cost.
The True Cost was hard to watch, but I’m glad I did. I haven’t seen it since last year, but the images, words, and statistics I saw there are still engraved in my mind. I consider it to be one of the few pieces of media that has changed me.
I’m not going to use this blog to reiterate what was said in that documentary, but if you’re personally interested in learning about the negative environmental impact and human rights violations that are a direct result of the fashion industry, I highly suggest watching the documentary (it’s available on Netflix) or simply conducting some Google research.
Shortly after seeing the film, I added another resolution to my short list. And it’s the only one that I, technically speaking, thoroughly accomplished.
My resolution, as it is written in the planner I kept last year, states, “Reject fast fashion. Buy less than 6 items from new, unethical brands.”
In 2019, I decided to stop buying new clothes.
One of the last clothing purchases I made in 2018 was an expensive winter coat. I’m glad I bought it when I did, I guess, because I haven’t found another coat I like so far throughout my in-store and online thrifting escapades.
I never took thrifting seriously before 2019, so it was a bit of a learning curve when I first started. I had thrifted a couple times as a teenager and young adult, but I didn’t use it as my primary source of clothing purchases.
Now I almost exclusively thrift, as I have for a year now, and I don’t plan on ever going back to traditional clothing shopping methods.
(The only exception to this self-imposed rule is when I want a specific piece of clothing, like a pair of jeans in a certain size, and I can’t find it anywhere else after months of searching secondhand stores and online shops. In that case, I would do my best to make an intentional, well-researched purchase from a company that promotes fair work environments and sustainable production methods. I've only had to implement this practice once so far in my "slow fashion" journey. I bought a pair of black skinny jeans about a week ago, which marked my first purchase of new demin since mid-2018.)
(And this might be TMI or whatever, but a glaring exception to this is – of course – undergarments and socks. Brands I suggest for those purchases include Pact, Boody, Parade, and Arvin Goods. However, I also suggest to truly wear things out before purchasing new items. If it’s not broke, why replace it?)
I genuinely enjoy thrifting, but I completely understand that it isn’t everyone’s “cup of tea.” I am also extremely aware that I’m privileged to be someone who wears a highly available and normalized clothing size, and I’m privileged to be living in an area that contains a high number of thrift, vintage, and consignment stores. I know thrifting isn’t a feasible option for everyone, and I don’t expect anyone to shop as I do.
With that being said, thrifting has made a hugely positive impact on my life, and it’s made a great impact on the earth, too, as I’ve learned through my Google research and through watching The True Cost.
I think I’ve been talking about this in a way too serious manner, though. Thrifting can also be fun!
Here are some of my favorite thrifted purchases from last year:
1. An X-Files t-shirt. It’s a copy of the “I Want To Believe” poster in Agent Fox Mulder’s basement office in the TV series. I wear it about once every one to two weeks. It is – without a doubt – one of my favorite shirts. I found it in a corner – literally, a corner by a window – of a Goodwill store near the boy’s athletic gear. It was the first time I tried “serious” thrifting, and so I scoured every inch of the store in search of acceptable items. Ironically enough, I had just started watching the The X-Files at that time, as well. I’m so happy I found it. I’d like to think of it as a sign (from who I don’t know… Aliens, maybe?) that thrifting is truly for me.
2. A yellow sweater originally sold at Target. There isn’t really any deep meaning or cool coincidence here to explain why I like this clothing item. I really like the color yellow, and it fits well on me.
3. A Bad Religion t-shirt. I bought this online from Depop, which is an app that allows users to buy and sell secondhand items, usually clothing. I’m not exactly sure what I was searching that led me to find this – maybe “rock band t-shirt” or something like that – but I’m glad I did. It consists of a heavyweight cotton material, and it’s still in excellent condition. This is embarrassing to admit, but fuck it: I bought the t-shirt before I listened to Bad Religion. In my defense, they fit EXACTLY within my most well liked genre of music, and I started listening to them RIGHT AFTER I purchased it – literally, like, minutes later (just in case their music made me want to cancel the order…), and I truly, genuinely, honestly, love the band now. Don’t believe me? Bad Religion made it into the top five bands I listened to on Spotify last year. No Control is my favorite album by them. I wear the shirt a lot.
4. I would say that a pair of suede black oxfords I found at Goodwill for $4 is among my favorite items I’ve purchased secondhand, but the sole has nearly completely detached from the left shoe. It happened while I was at work a couple weeks ago. I need to take them to a shoe repair store, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Instead, I’ll list a pair of cherry red Dr. Marten’s boots as one of my favorite items. I purchased these from Depop for less than a third of their original price, and they’re nearly good as new. I had wanted a pair of red Doc’s since 2014.
I could continue to describe several more t-shirts, sweaters, and pants, but I’m sure reading a list of the contents of someone else’s closet is even more boring than it sounds.
So in 2019, as I stated in my planner, my resolution was to purchase less than six fast fashion items. In other words, less than six new pieces of fabric or textiles.
And I think I accomplished that goal.
Here’s… well, another list, I suppose, of the new items I bought in 2019. (Don’t worry, it’s not a long list.):
1. A Riot Fest t-shirt. I attended the music festival for the first time last summer, and it was also my first time seeing my favorite band, Rise Against. I bought the shirt knowing I would get a lot of usage out of it, and it wouldn’t be just another wasted product to end up in a landfill. I have worn it so frequently it’s gotten holes in it. (Don’t worry, I’ll still wear it regardless.) It’s definitely not visiting a landfill at any point in my lifetime.
2. A jumpsuit from Target I wore to a wedding reception. It’s a plain black sleeveless jumpsuit. I’ll be honest, I’m not a “jumpsuit person.” I’ve only worn it once, and it’s currently gathering dust in the back of my closet. In my defense, I wanted to keep the tag on to return it, but it fell off while I was wearing it. (I was pretty upset when that happened.)
3. This isn’t technically clothing, but it does consist of mass-produced fabric. I bought a SwissGear backpack in mid-2019. I needed a backpack that fit my laptop, and, at the time, I was hesitant to buy one secondhand. I bring the backpack to work with me every day. It’s been outside the U.S. with me. I bring it with me on vacations and airplanes. I don’t anticipate ever purchasing a new backpack in the future, but if this one bites the dust, I’ll either look into an ethical and sustainable backpack brand, or – more likely – I’ll buy one gently used.
4. Lastly, I bought a suitcase from Marshall’s. It’s the only suitcase I’ve ever personally owned. I’ve used it during the couple vacations I took last year, and I used it when I moved across the U.S. at the end of last year. It’s currently gathering dust underneath my bed. I’ll use it the next time I need a suitcase, and I’ll hope it’s built to last. (Even though the zipper did bust open the last time I used it… But it seems to be working fine for now…)
And that’s it. Everything else I bought in 2019 was purchased secondhand.
I plan to continue this practice in 2020 and every year after that for the foreseeable future.
I’ll accept exceptions, though. I am only human.
I’m going to a My Chemical Romance concert in September (Thanks, Kels.) and I may or may not choose to purchase a t-shirt while I’m there. They were my favorite band before Rise Against, after all.
In 2019, I made the intentional decision to reject fast fashion, and I am thankful for the volume of information that is available online that led me to that decision, and I am thankful to the creators of The True Cost.
And I can’t wait to go thrifting again soon.