Wasting and Wanting

I try very, very hard to live a non-wasteful life. I save used notebooks even when there are only about 5 empty pages left in them, I hoard pens and pencils even when they break or go dry in hopes of using them again, I wear jeans until the holes in them become larger than the jeans themselves. I eat leftovers, I think twice before so much as using a dish if I don’t need to, I turn off lights and unplug unused appliances, I keep using cosmetics until they are truly and utterly empty, I air dry nearly all my clothes, and I recycle everything I can find that could possibly fit under the category of paper, plastic, or metal. I have even been known on many occasions to rescue things from the trash that could be recycled, even right after they were thrown away, eliciting guilty/judging looks from the wasteful offender.

Unfortunately, this love of simplicity, environmentalism, thrift, whatever you want to call it, really does not jive with my love of fashion. In high school, when I felt down I went to the thrift store. In the beginning of college, when I felt down I went to Target. Even later in college, when I seriously cut down on spending, when I felt down I went back to thrift stores, free swap meets, garage sales, and anywhere else I could get my fashion fix. Even though I have yet to succeed at knitting anything with sleeves, I spend hours salivating over knitting patterns in magazines and on blogs. Even though I cannot so much as thread a sewing machine, I have become a constant reader of various sewing blogs, refashion sites, and free pattern sites. I love going to stores and just touching things,  feeling fabrics and looking at the colours. During winter break, I cleaned out my bedroom, carrying bags and bags of clothing to Goodwill. The following semester, more bags made their way from my dorm room. And yet I still have, right now, a full dresser, many items hanging in my closet, and a plastic tub full of winter clothes…and those are just the clean things. And I haven’t even bought much in months…or so I tell myself.

The thing is, I give in to getting things without even realizing it. When checking people out of their rooms and such as part of my RA duties, I pilfered many useful items from trash cans, from laundry rooms, even from dumpsters…No, I really don’t have any pride.

And then there’s all the little purchases. I ordered more workout clothes because I wanted something better to run races in- spandex-y shorts and a built in bra that actually held me in. Then I wanted a nicer dress for graduation, so I ordered that; I had to exchange it, and it didn’t even get back in time, but I have it now. Last night I just had to have another woot.com shirt, so I have that coming too, and on and on. “Not buying much” turns into a lot when you pick up three or four items at once for a small price, or when you just buy one “nice” thing for more.

And none of these small purchases are small when I think about that one little thing being thrown on a truck and shipped across the state or even the country to my house, only for me to exchange it. When will it end? Is there a way to actually embrace a love of being well-dressed and not exponentially increase my carbon footprint at the same time?

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Author: elizabethlorraine

Writer, actress, runner, knitter, and geek.

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