Whether its the podcast I listen to, articles I read or something I saw on tv, something keeps popping up. I wouldn’t necessarily call it minimalism, though I think it lends to that concept. I even found Bill and I talking about it during our ‘goals for 2015′ discussion.
What I keep seeing and hearing about is how we as a society have come to buy more than we need and sometimes use the low cost or our “needs” as our excuses as to why its ok. I’m not talking about the amount of money we’re spending rather the number of things we own.
Take our wardrobes, for example. Years and years ago people had a few items for dressing up, a few for casual dress, and–depending on their lifestyle–a few for work. That’s it. They didn’t have closets and dressers full of clothing with a box in the attic for switching out their seasonal attire. Today, if we find a little dress in our favorite fit and color, we buy it. It doesn’t matter if we already have 10 other dresses hanging in our closet. We like it, its on sale, therefore we have to have it.
If you’re like me, you’re cheap and don’t shop often. But, when you do, its from the clearance/sale rack so you can get as much as you can with the amount of money you allotted for the shopping trip. Yes, my clothes are inexpensive and I don’t shop often, but I promise you: my closet and dresser are full. I purge all the time and I’m still not hurting for options. And its not just clothes, its everything in my house. In my kitchen, in my bedroom, bathroom. Makeup, beauty products, kitchen utensils, decor…etc.
But why?! WHY should I buy less stuff if I can afford to have more?
After all this reading and listening, I’ve determined 5 reasons to buy fewer, but better:
- Lower Price = Lower Quality Obviously I can’t say this is true for every brand/company but in general it is. So, here I am spending $10 on this totally trendy sweater, but how long will it last? If I end up getting rid of it because it shrinks, fades, tears or just isn’t something I wear any more, I’ll end up buying something to put in its place, though maybe not directly. Depending on the cost of the “replacement” piece, the cost of that spot in my wardrobe. Which leads me to my next reason.
- Higher Price = Higher Quality Once again, this might not be the case with every company. However, if we are willing to spend a little more money on one piece, we generally get a better quality item. If I had been willing to spend more on a higher quality sweater and forgone the cute skirt that was also on sale, it might not have shrunk, faded, or torn.
- Working Conditions Have you ever wondered why those products are so much cheaper than others? Lower production costs are driven by lower wages, lower working conditions, and lower material costs (which is lower for the same reasons, just in another industry). For this reason, I suggest researching the companies you purchase from and the countries they operate in. The US has strict laws for working conditions and wages making for a higher quality work experience for the employees. The product costs a little more but its because you are supporting better treatment for the people making your product. Which leads to the next reason.
- You Support What You Spend Your Money On Have you heard that saying, “if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for nothing?” What are your values? Morals? Priorities? What do you care about and support? Human rights? Better lives for everyone? Raising the US unemployment rate? Do a little research on the company you are thinking about purchasing from. Where do they operate? How do they treat their employees? What are the laws in their operating area? What are their morals and standards? How are the materials they use made and where do they come from? If you are willing to spend your hard earned money on it, are you willing to support the cause/affect of their company? What do you support?
- Environment I doubt I have time to list all the reasons its better for the environment. Less man-made stuff is almost always better for the environment. Think about where the materials came from, how will they be replaced? If at all? How does the making of the product affect the environment? How far away was the product made? How much gas and pollution went into getting it to the store and to your home?
I know what you’re thinking because I’m still fighting it myself: “But I can’t afford the higher quality. I can’t afford to spend $50 on a casual dress and still have several to choose from. Why should I spend $30 on a shirt for my construction job?” And I imagine this next one is a big hold up for a lot of us,”I’d have to wear the same thing over and over.”
Yes, you would. But if its a dress you love, feel confident in, and it looks amazing on you, why would you not want to wear it over and over? It’ll be clean each time, so its not like you’re wearing dirty clothes. And its higher quality, so how could anyone judge you on your shopping/brand choices?
Do not fret, though. Here are a couple tips to put this philosophy in action:
- Buy things you absolutely love. The more you love it, the happier you will be wearing/using it often.
- Buy classic pieces. Whether its for your home or your closet, buy things that will last through the fads and phases of style. You will be less likely to get tired of it and want to replace it because you love it and it continues to fit your personal style.
- Thrift stores often have good quality items at lower costs. No, you won’t find items you love every time you go, but then again, you won’t be looking to purchase them as often if you are purchasing less, right?
- Patience. Learning patience and self control are probably the biggest factors here. I know its hard to resist when you find the perfect little basket for the kitchen table on sale. Resist, though. Remember to ask yourself things like ‘do I need this,’ ‘how was this made,’ ‘have I looked around to find something I like even better by a brand I love and trust?‘
- Find different ways to use the items you have so you don’t get bored with them. Whether its finding a new place for that decorative bowl, moving the furniture around, or finding a way to restyle a dress, keep it fresh so you don’t itch to replace it as quickly.
We’re in this together. Its a new leaf I’m working to turn over as well. I am by no means preaching at you or telling you how I’ve mastered the philosophy, but how I’m working on making the change. And I’m not saying you’re not allowed to have a full closet or buy that adorable little salt and pepper shaker set you saw on sale at Target. Its ok.
My goal here is to start the conversation and raise the awareness. What are your thoughts on this? Agree? Disagree? Don’t care? I’m interested to hear your opinion.