My Ethos - Quality not Quantity
There is a movement brewing, and I will join it. Like all movements, I’ve seen it disseminate through the currency of culture – books and films. The movement says, “less is more.” It says, “simplify.” And it says, “quality, not quantity.” I’ve seen it address all basic necessities – food, housing and now clothing.
When I was younger, super-sized portions, artificial sweeteners and fats were the norm. High volume, reduce calorie food was considered "healthy" regardless of the chemicals and processing involved. But as the breakthrough documentary “Super Size Me” showed way back in 2004, quick convenient foods aren’t best for the human body. The best "diet" advice I ever received was from Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food,” “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It's so simple but requires mindful choices. Not only is it better for us, but it’s better for the earth too.
Around the same time that McDonald’s was super sizing our food, came the rise of the McMansion. Even the term McMansion connects the generic quality of these homes with our image of mass-produced fast food. Reading Sarah Suzanka's “Not So Big House” was a pivotal moment in my relationship with space and shelter. I became more focused on natural lighting, a quiet location, and a friendly neighborhood rather than a large, unwelcoming space. I found that the quality, beauty and durability of materials inside my home set the tone for my mood, energy, and health. I found that small changes like fresh paint and vintage hardware were not only less expensive, but also more mindful of our earth’s resources.
Only recently have I started to apply the same mindfulness to my relationship with clothing. Elizabeth L. Cline’s book “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” showed me that supporting "fast fashion" is just as bad for the planet and our basic human needs as fast food or mass-produced homes. I am guilty of buying inexpensive wardrobe pieces without much thought to whether I needed it or where it came from. And unlike most manufacturing, which has become automated, our clothes are still assembled by people. These people are often working in dangerous conditions, making just pennies per item they assemble. Besides exploiting vulnerable populations for cheap labor, fast fashion also relies on synthetic materials. The production of these materials pumps chemicals into our waterways and ecosystem. I learned that if the price of a $6 shirt seems too good to be true, it probably is.
My new relationship with apparel has shifted. I now seek beauty and quality at a fair price. I stock my closet with intention. Like my home and my food, I'm less concerned about the quantity of clothes I own, but rather how they make me feel and how they have impacted others and the planet. This is my ethos.