The secret to a well curated wardrobe is buying less clothing that is well made. But embracing this philosophy has an added bonus—it is better for the world we live in.
I was listening to an interesting Fresh Air interview on the subject of what happens to all that stuff we donate. Author Adam Minter discusses his research for his book Secondhand where he follows all that stuff we donate from the moment we drop it off. He walks us through the processing of all items from the moment it arrives at a center. He begins with how items gets sorted and what happens to them afterwards. There was a lot to take in so I would encourage everyone to listen in.
When we buy something whether it’s furniture, books or clothing we never think about what happens after we are done with said objects because somewhere in the back of our brains we rationalize that we can simply donate it. What we don’t do is consider wether the quality of these items is worthy of reselling.
Furniture, books, and clothing are all items we purchase because they sparked joy when we bought them. This is the kind of joy Marie Kondo preaches in her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Marie tells us that falling out of love out with our stuff but keeping it in closets, boxes or shoved in some corner only adds chaos to our lives. Marie encourages us to get rid of all the clutter we have accumulated throughout the years and only keep the stuff that sparks joy. We did just that. Marie’s book gave even the most ardent of packrats a reason to take endless bags of unwanted articles to the donation centers that Adam discusses in his interview with Terry Gross.
Adam takes us to Goodwill where, he reports, the sorting centers are quite sophisticated. The sorters inspect each garment checking for fabric quality and resale probability. According to Newsweek 84% of all clothing ends up in landfill. In others words 84% of all clothing is not worth reselling. Granted some of these items are threadbare or stained making them unsaleable. But most of them have no resale value because they were made cheaply.
It’s important to keep in mind that the amount of garbage being produced, bought, donated, and then shipped to some forsaken landfill has increased exponentially since the birth of fast fashion.
There is pleasure in wearing clothing that is made well and feels wonderful against the skin. There is clarity when scouting for an outfit when you have less to choose from. And there is immense pleasure in giving a good friend an article of clothing that no longer sparks joy for you but sparks joy for them. Clothing should have a second, third and even forth life. It should be made to last and made well.
On a final note, now that Marie Kondo has successfully convinced us to jettison all the stuff that no longer sparks joy we have more room. We’ve cleared out our spaces so that we can buy more new stuff to replace the old stuff we threw out. And Marie can help with that too because she has an online store where you can buy tchotchkes like a tuning fork and crystal for $75. According to Marie, “Striking the fork against a crystal creates pure tones that are believed to help restore a sense of balance.” For some it might emit the sound of joy. She has one too only hers make a different sound —cha-ching!
Eat well, laugh a lot, and be chic!