On my journey of minimalism, I have discovered a myriad of creative and sustainable ways of living. Often misunderstood by critics, minimalism is not about owning a particular number of items or eliminating joy. It is about simplicity, intentionality, and responsibility. It is about questioning everything and choosing meaning. And now, for me, it is about mending.
As a young girl, my mother taught me the value of investing in quality, using things gently, making do when possible, and repairing or repurposing rather than tossing. This mindset is often reserved for those forced by circumstance to live sustainably, but with increased opportunity we must remember the value of living slowly and mindfully. In a sense, we must create artificial limitations based in ethics.
While the age of convenience may present an illusion of abundance, the reality is that we can no longer afford to ignore the detrimental effects of our disposable culture. Our world is hurting, and through the practice of mending we can begin to heal the planet, inspire our creativity, and empower the makers.
••• The Why •••
By consuming and eventually mending high-quality, ethically-made goods, we are building a culture of integrity rather than greed; we are supporting creative and sustainable solutions rather than forcefully delegating our problems; and we are fueling our human need to innovate, to make, to survive.
While I fully believe in the concepts of minimalism (and have sometimes dreamt of my possessions going up in flames so not a thing could weigh me down), there are times I am concerned with the extreme devaluing of physical objects. To me, one of the most beautiful aspects of humanity is our creativity and craftsmanship, and our ability to tell a story through both aesthetic and utilitarian objects.
Of course, not all minimalists devalue objects to the point of asceticism. In fact, most find that decluttering allows them to more fully appreciate the objects that resonate with them. When everything you own has a purpose and inspires joy—even the most functional among them—I believe it creates a connection between maker and consumer. And when we use these objects well, when we love them enough to mend the wear, we are merging the story of maker and consumer and eliminating toxic waste and exploitation in the process.
To better understand the impacts of the clothing industry specifically and the importance of slow fashion, I encourage you to check out the following resources:
- The True Cost (documentary)
- Fast Fashion Is Creating An Environmental Crisis (article)
- Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (book)
The reality of the clothing industry is undoubtedly depressing, but remember that the tiniest of positive actions become gloriously ginormous snowballs.
••• The How •••
Another misconception about minimalists is that we are immune to the collection and hoarding of goods. Like so many, I enjoy the anticipation of acquiring things, but I have also become anxious about the process of shopping now that I am aware of the psychological, social, and environmental impacts of mindless consumption.
By giving myself a set of ethical shopping guidelines, I am not only able to reduce my anxiety around consumption, but I am also able to empower the makers, fuel my creativity, generate a lighter footprint, and tell a story. Quite simply, my commitment to minimalism allows for more conscious consumerism and vice versa.
With the focus of clothing in mind, here are 5 ideas for improving your own impact:
- Declutter so you can better care for the clothes you love.
- Wear your clothes gently and for their intended purpose.
- Buy less so you can invest in high-quality, ethically-made clothes.
- Shop secondhand to divert waste from the landfill.
- Mend your clothes for longevity and creativity.
What is the story behind your most lovingly worn piece of clothing?