Being in Nepal taught me so many things, but one thing that I definitely was inspired by the staff to do was live simply. I was very intentional about it when I was there- I only brought one small suitcase with a few outfits, I didn't wear makeup the entire time I was there, I put away my phone at meals and in marginal times to engage with those around me. Coming home, being at AU, dating Avery, whatever the cause: I found myself making changes in my outlook on the world and behaviors.
About six months ago, I announced on Facebook a challenge I'm doing for myself (https://www.facebook.com/becca.lamb.7/posts/10204461085783870?ref=notif¬if_t=like) to not buy new clothes, shoes or accessories for a year. This means I can thrift and borrow, but no money spent on anything new. My goal in doing this was to unlearn consumerism (to an extent) and teach myself generosity and gratitude. I was examining the ways I spent money and realized that I continuously bought new things that really weren't worth much to me and I didn't need, but instead I could be spending the money on gifts for others, financial support to missions, or classes like yoga and dance for myself that would truly make me happier and better.
It was a wonderful thing to announce and certainly felt good at first. I can't say that it hasn't been hard. Making this change right before "consumerism season" (black Friday sales and Christmas shopping) was certainly a great exercise in self-restraint. It helped me refocus my spending from myself to others, which was really rewarding.
Soon thereafter, I read the Relevant article, The Socially Acceptable Sin." The author writes about gluttony, but I think a lot of the same messages can be applied to consumerism. He calls us out on our American addiction to excess. "If only we would feast on an infinite God who offers fullness of life, rather than these lesser tables with the far milder flavors of money, sex, food and power." I think "stuff" can very easily be added to that list.
If I'm saying that I believe that God is enough, that I don't have to worry about material provision, if I trust him with my money... but my theology is not lived out in my finances and the things I value, what is it worth?
Here I am in May, having not purchased any new clothes/shoes since October, and I'm loving it and have learned SO much! I've thought a lot about "fast fashion" and the ethics of clothing. I took a class on commodity chain analysis this past semester and definitely see sustainable and ethical supplying with much greater importance now. Rather than shopping for cheap, imported, ethically sketchy clothes like I used to- I want to only buy used or certified ethical, sustainable, slave-free. This has been a conviction of mine for a long time, but only recently have I lived it out in the way I shop. I've also given more money to others, spent more money on fun and recreation instead of cheap clothes, and not purchased things just because I was bored or wanted them. I really think about my purchases now, and the difference between "want" and "need".
Also, not shopping for new things doesn't mean I haven't bought clothes. I've loved supporting thrift stores and finding things I like/fit is so much more exciting when it's one of a kind :) I've also found some awesome websites/apps for reused stuff!
http://www.vinted.com/ - I heard about this a few weeks ago from a youtuber and I'm obsessed! I've gotten four things on here, all for less than $10 with super cheap/fast shipping and great quality. Just put in your sizes and search for what you want, rather than going to a new store!
www.liketwice.com / https://poshmark.com/ and https://yerdle.com/ are also great re-sale websites! Yerdle sells anything from clothes to home goods and has the anti-waste and anti-consumerism, "more joy, less stuff" philosophy that I love and has challenged me to buy reused things for almost all purchases I make (other than food & essentials.)
Whether I'll start buying clothes new again in October or not, I know my perspective on materialism and the necessity of things, especially new things, has changed forever. If you're thinking about taking up a similar challenge for yourself: 10/10, would recommend :)
Luke 12:34 Wherever your treasure is, there your heart will be.
Christian, feminist, idealist, wife, poet, abolitionist, dreamer, adventurer.