Wednesday, October 1, 2008


...or we should be committed :)

My dear sweet hubby and I have decided to go on a 'fast' .... not a food fast, but a shopping fast. Recently we both read and were inspired by an old blog post by Diane Nienhuis about her year long commitment to buy no clothes. We both practically jumped at the thought of taking on the challenge....tho we did have to sit down and discuss the practicalities of the idea. When do we start?...Oct. 1st, aka today. Should we stock up on basics? ...No. Who would participate?...That was easy, we gave our kids the option to be included in the fun, but surprisingly no one volunteered. And as much as I feel it is a worthwhile endeavor, the thought of forcing my 14yr. old High school freshman daughter (voted 'best dressed' at Wilson Middle school ) to even consider NOT buying clothes for an entire year....well lets just say, I know how to pick my battles and I am going to completely avoid that one (wimp).

Another blog of note in the same genre is wardrobe refashion. I think that will be closer to our version of the experiment, mostly because they allow shopping at thrift stores and garage sales and I love the idea of recycling other peoples wardrobes into my own.

Now, neither Steven or I are exactly clothes horses, about half of his current wardrobe came from the Discovery shop (Cancer society reused clothing store -thanks Mom) and as for me....anything that involves trying stuff on in front of a mirror terrifies me to the point of intestinal distress, so my usual purchases revolve around things I can grab off a rack...and I always save the receipt. . Our already austere shopping habits should make this a fairly simple task, but I'm sure we will be surprised. We are considering a possible exception to the no buying new rule on items that we wear frequently (for me - white mock turtlenecks and socks) that are marked down in price beyond 75% off. Since there are certain items that do actually wear out and need to be replaced, we figured we would give ourselves some wiggle room....but I'm not sure we're going to use it . I think it might be more fun, at least for a year, to go whole hog....or sans hog as it were. We'll see.

Now on to our second and more complicated resolution. We have decided to combine this year of no new clothes with a made in China ban also. This is something we've been pondering for awhile. Several years ago I read an article about a gentleman who was trying to Christmas shop for his children without buying any Chinese goods and he found it nearly impossible....hand made wooden toys from Hearthsong just don't hold much appeal to a teenager. This gentleman's quandary really got us thinking....ALOT. Was it even possible? Would it matter?

Reading 'Lost on Planet China' has brought the whole issue up again and caused us to take a look at our own buying habits. Tho we are aware of the huge trade deficit we have compared to the Chinese, I think in our haste we just don't bother to check out where the majority of our purchases originate and if we need them, we buy them anyway. But I am feeling less and less comfortable with that process. Not only do our choices impact where future jobs will end up, the thought of buying something that has been shipped thousands of miles using tons of fuel on that journey, leaves a fairly nasty taste in my mouth. I just can't ignore it any more. A recent trip to Costco made us very aware of how difficult this endeavor may end up being. Also, because it will not be possible to always know if ingredients or parts of a whole are produced in said country it may not be possible to institute a complete ban .....but if 'made in China' is on the label, we will not purchase it. Other possible exceptions will be made if we have need of a product for our home that is not made anywhere else, we're hoping the Internet helps us out there.

Ok, so 2 people living in a small town refusing to participate in the merry-go-round that is consumerism, aren't really going to change the world, are they? Probably not..... but I don't really care. The results aren't what matter, what matters is doing what we believe to be the right thing for us at this point in our lives. What matters is doing something....however small and insignificant it may seem. And just maybe we'll learn something along the way.

What has always given me hope is that small steps can lead to sea change. As important as is the big picture , there's profound power in pulling it down to a manageable scale, to bringing it home, right down into our communities and talking action with available solutions. The little things count as much as the big things when enough people are doing them. And there's something very positive, very democratic, about the people gathering together in our common interest. How we treat the earth says much about us as a society, about our spirit and strength as a nation. I am extremely optimistic that we, the people will turn the tide.
...Robert Redford


Wendy Melchior said...

Maureen, would love you and Steve to be part of a cyber focus group I'm gathering for my book. If interested, email me at


diane said...

Hey! I'm so excited for your journey! Be sure to keep in touch - I love to hear these stories. :)

(btw, my last name is spelled's a solid Dutch name)

Today I ended my No New Plastic fast which turned out to be MUCH harder than No New Clothes!

Maureen said...

Oops! sorry about that Diane, I will fix it now (what a goof!) And your plastic fast would be pretty much impossible for us, but if all these 'fasts' do is make us more aware of our purchases, that'd be good:)

thanks Wendy, we'd love to!

Nancy W. said...

Maureen, you would be inspired by the brown dress project (I don't know how to put in the link, so google it) This woman wore the same brown dress every day for a year. The following year she did a "no new clothes" project and reports on how it went. I'd never make it, but I could do it if it was no new clothes unless you make them!

Maureen said...

That's why the wardrobe refashion is a better option for some people, they allow clothes if you make them yourself. I'm actually trying to get into that group (missed the last sign-up) but I don't know how interesting my posts would be....these people are making skirts out of tablecloths and kids clothing out of pillow cases. What do I talk about....the 2 pair of jeans that I wear over the course of a winter, how I get thru football season with 4 sweaters....wooooo :)