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Why I haven’t bought new clothes in three years

Some children will slip into their mom’s shoes, rub her red lipstick all over their little faces, or wrestle with a tie with their chubby fingers. Then, they will look down and realize that fashion will be their great love. I was one of these children. I remember snapping the crystal bracelets that my mom trusted me with, stuffing my shirt to visualize the day better when I could wear Victoria’s Secret bra or the pink dress from .

My growing interest in fashion and my age made me a perfect target for Instagram ads and fashion vloggers encouraging you to purchase their outfits now with your discount code. As the clothes I bought from ASOS and Nasty Gal piled up, they were unworn and out of style. This made me more aware of winter’s increasing temperature. After leading the climate change event in my city’s September climate strikes, 2019, I realized that clothing was the main way I contributed to our climate crisis. I stopped buying it.

I decided to stop buying new clothes. Since 2019, I have only bought clothes from thrift shops, vintage sites like Etsy, eBay, and zero-waste independent designers like Maison Cleo and Beasha Studio. I can’t even imagine buying clothes again as I did in the past. I have never been more grateful for fashion and my closet.

Despite this, I am familiar with the flippant and guilt that comes from someone posting how often they compost. I won’t pretend that cutting my fast fashion habits was simple or impossible because I have the privilege. Many people don’t have enough time or money to search the Internet for affordable jeans that fit. However, I don’t want to perpetuate climate activism’s false notion for only a few wealthy white people.

Aditi Maier and Dominique Drakeford tirelessly debate the interconnectedness of fashion and climate change. As a Bengali woman, it is my responsibility to purchase better. While low-wage South Asian women work in fast-fashion factories, one of seven Bengali citizens will be displaced by climate changes in the next three decades.

Climate change is no longer an intangible possibility, regardless of our connections. Your next clothing purchase will directly impact the most vulnerable people on Earth, no matter how necessary it may seem. Let me share my honest story of how I went from H&M regular to eBay demigod.

To make the changes last, I needed to start small. It’s boring, I know. It’s easy to get carried away by an idea and stop shopping for fast fashion. While you’re at that, you can learn how to crochet grocery bags. You’ll never again look at plastic. If you feel overwhelmed immediately, get off the plane and return to your old ways.

Sometimes it’s not practical to do everything. My original intention was to live a “zero waste” life. This was somewhat misleading, considering that bodily waste is a human tragedy. I eventually accepted the reality that I was a college student with $80,000 in student loans. I also realized that plastic was killing my bank account.

It was not enough to label my life with vague labels like “zero waste” and “slow fashion,” but figuring out what made me want to live a more sustainable lifestyle. I discovered that my motivation was motivated by my desire to protect the interests of exploited workers, my love for high-quality materials, and my passion for vintage design. It was easier to resist impulse purchases that were not in line with my core values once I had established them.

I could watch many YouTube videos on historical sewing techniques and even learn how to sew. I could identify great stitching in secondhand clothes, whether purchased in person or online. This included tight straight stitches and old-fashioned sewing techniques like single-stitch. By understanding sewing, I found good quality clothing that would last a long time. It was also helpful to have a basic knowledge of fabrics. This allowed me to gauge how well a garment would last by simply touching it or looking at how it drapes on a mannequin.

These essential clothing items have allowed me to purchase vintage that will last and not fall apart after one wear.

This may sound counterintuitive, but it is crucial if you buy too many clothes you don’t like anymore. My initial fear was that my constant access to vintage clothes on my phone was me trying to reduce fashion waste. However, using the “save” function on all those sites changed my approach to buying clothes.

I stopped running after the dopamine rush and jumping on the chance to buy a new item as soon as it caught my attention. Instead, I used the save function to feel safe. Knowing everything I loved was waiting for me, I had a growing collection of clothes that helped me keep my eye on sales and preserve my style. I also avoided impulse buying that would lead to regret later.

When I open my closet door, it makes me feel proud. My clothes feel like well-worn toys that I proudly bring to school because of the care I put into finding, cherishing, and maintaining them. They are my joy to share with the world, and I don’t let them go to waste.

Daniel S. Williams

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