I come by my thriftiness naturally. Thrift shopping with my Grandmother Alice was always an exciting day when was a kid, I remember the earthy smell of the wood floors in the store that was just off the square. I felt like I was in Disneyland. Her eyes would twinkle with excitement of the chance of finding that just right bargain. Even more exciting was that I got to go with my grandmother! I loved her passion and fun-loving nature. She would examine all prices and products, fretting over sizes, quality, or the price, but always with a warm heart.
I made a year-long commitment to buy all my clothes (except bras and panties) at thrift stores. Specifically, stores that benefit the woman’s and children’s shelter, the food bank, or other altruistic endeavors.
Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love.”
As a consumer, I want to spend my money in places that will help others in some way. When I shop at the Woman’s Shelter Thrift Store, I feel like I’m making a difference in my own small way. 100% of the money raised at that store goes to fund the shelter. Furthermore, the shelter houses women and children who have been victims of domestic violence. Each year, more than 136,000 people in Northwest Arkansas are affected by domestic violence.
The average American woman owns 30 outfits—one for every day of the month. In 1930, that figure was nine (Forbes).
Clutter is killing us. We buy things we don’t need out of habit, addiction, or as a coping mechanism. Our drawers don’t close, the closets are filled from top to bottom, and we are overwhelmed with managing and organizing. I’ve learned that it’s not the number of things I own that matters, but rather it’s the time and experiences I have with those I love. In the last five years, I’ve lost a husband and recently my big brother. It’s human nature to cling to things, ideas, thoughts, etc. However, I didn’t miss my husband’s favorite t-shirt, I mourned him and our life. Recently, I had to clean out my brother’s workshop and living space. He had worked and lived there for over 20 years. It was another reminder that hanging onto things we don’t need or think we might need, is not healthy or practical.
Women will spend more than eight years of their lives shopping (The Daily Mail).
Researchers are telling us that too much clutter and too many things are not healthy. We are more stressed and anxious with overstuffed closets and clothes that don’t fit (but we think we really like) crammed under our bed. In one study, women who saw their homes as cluttered had high levels of the stress hormone cortisol throughout the day, while those who described their homes as a well-organized, restful space had lower levels.
In yoga we speak to the idea of “letting go what no longer serves us”. Since our bodies hold stress, trauma, pain etc, yoga is extremely beneficial for healing and releasing powerful and difficult emotions. Furthermore, decluttering the mind through the practice of yoga and mediation can create space for healing, less stress, and more joy.
Impact on the Environment
The average person buys 60 percent more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago, generating a huge amount of waste. The main benefit of textile recycling activities is the opportunity to reuse clothing. Through the reuse of clothes and textiles, we can avoid pollution and energy-intensive production of new clothing. Additionally, clothing that cannot be reused may be repurposed into products such as rags or recycled into fabric or other material for reprocessing.
Here are some sobering facts about clothing, recycling, and waste:
-Consumers throw away shoes and clothing [versus recycle], an average of 70 pounds per person, annually.
-About 85% of textiles go to the landfill versus textile recycling
-It takes more than 5,000 gallons of water to manufacture just a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans.
-Second only to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world.
I started my commitment to thrift store shopping in October after my brother died. I don’t want to live my life collecting things, but instead collecting memories with my family, traveling together, and having experiences. Excess clutter, whether its clothes, adorable stuffed animals, or another groovy t-shirt, just clog up my mind and is unnecessary. However, it is not easy. Breaking a lifetime of ingrained spending patterns and habits can be tough, but I made a commitment. It’s an important one to me because it’s it’s how I want to live. I want the money I spend to make a difference, and the way I live to be in alignment with my deepest desires.
It seems we are all seeking purpose and meaning and we attempt to fill up what is missing by buying stuff and filling up the spaces in our lives. Stepping out of these habits is not easy. Yoga can help to create the space to reflect and flow into creating calm and peace. Just like decluttering, yoga can help you to let go of what is no longer serving you and open the door to filling your life with deeper purpose and meaning.