Shopaholic Turned Conscious Consumer Thanks to Granny’s Top Tips
My name is Eva McKee, and I am an addict. A fashion addict.
Recently I moved out of my family home. In the process of packing up my room, I discovered that I have a deadly addiction. Clearing out one bedroom was a mammoth task, and I hadn’t even begun on my sister’s ex-closet that I’d taken over in her absence.
My mum had constantly lectured me about having too many clothes, but I never really listened. Her comments were always met with an eye roll and disbelieving head shake; what would she know?
However, after stuffing five garbage bags full of clothes, the majority of which I hadn’t even touched in the last year, I had an earth-shattering realisation. My mother is always right. I have a problem.
Consumerism and fast fashion are destroying our planet.
“The term ‘fast fashion’ refers to clothing brands that have high production rates for products that are mass-produced at a rapid pace and sold to customers at a low price” (Potempa, 2022). The fast fashion industry is benefitting from the excessive levels of consumerism that are the new norm in today’s society, but at what cost?
You may be surprised to hear that fast fashion has devastating impacts on our planet, so let me educate you on some of the facts. Fast fashion is responsible for 5 per cent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally, and it releases about 45,000,000 kilograms of microfibres in the ocean each year; that’s comparable to about 50 billion plastic bottles (Lawton, 2022; Peer Ledger, n.d.). On top of that, over 60 per cent of fabric fibres are synthetic, meaning when a trend dies and that cute mesh crop top you bought from Pretty Little Thing ends up in a landfill, it won’t decay (Schlossberg, 2019).
If these alarming statistics weren’t enough to make me quit, my great granny’s disapproving stares at the mounds of clothes covering my bedroom floor were.
Granny had come over to bid me goodbye mid-way through the mission and was particularly appalled. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and guilty, and I knew I needed to find some support to overcome the addiction. So, I turned to granny.
I’d always looked up to her and knew she was resourceful, so I hoped she could give me a few pointers to help me through a detox.
Granny, who’s 97 and as sharp as a tack, told me about how she lived her life to reduce unnecessary waste. She grew up in the 20s and 30s during the Great Depression and had lived through wartime; thus, she quickly learned to be frugal. Granny never had a lot of money or resources, but with seven children, she had to learn to make ends meet. Though the practices she employed were formed out of economic necessity, she had an environmental awareness that turned these practices into habits in her later years.
As I understand, I’m not the only one adding fuel to the fire. So, I thought I’d share granny’s top tips to decrease your shopping dependency.
1. Master MendingA tear in a top or a hole in a sock is an easy fix.
Instead of disposing of a mildly damaged clothing item, granny strived to maintain, mend and repair it. Holes in socks were darned, buttons were sewn back on and zippers were replaced. I sat down with granny and she taught me how to undertake this somewhat endangered art form and to my surprise, it wasn’t too difficult. Most of the time, all you need is a patch, a needle and some string and you’re set! If you want to go a step further, invest in a sewing machine. Why stop there? You can even learn to make your own clothing.
There are plenty of videos on YouTube if you’re looking for a detailed guide. After something easier? Check out this beginner’s guide to visible mending: https://www.sustainably-chic.com/blog/visible-mending-darning-clothes
2. Quality Over QuantityPass on the trendy pieces, go for something timeless and endeavour to create a capsule wardrobe.
If granny ever purchased a piece of clothing (she was partial to something handmade), she made sure it would go the distance. Anything granny bought she owned for years and years, decades even. She took notice of the material it was made from, if it was Australian made and carefully considered the wearability of the item. The trick is buying items made from sustainable materials, that you can create multiple outfits with to maximise wear rate.
Keep your eyes peeled for slow fashion brands!
Here’s a ‘how-to’ to break down the process of building a capsule wardrobe: https://goodonyou.eco/capsule-wardrobes-create-your-own/
3. Take a Trip to the Thrift ShopOn a budget? You can still find some great pieces at your local Vinnies!
A trip to Salvos is granny’s idea of an exciting outing and I don’t disagree. While it’s often overlooked, thrifting is a great way to practice sustainable shopping. By buying second-hand you’re doing your part to reduce air pollution, energy consumption and piles of landfill, and you’d be helping keep our oceans cleaner (De Mesa, n.d.).
Prior to recognising my addiction I hadn’t thought twice about my shopping habits. I’d heard slow fashion touted but had never thought twice about it. Now, I am in recovery and I’m following granny’s tips to avoid relapse. Unfortunately, the bottom line is I am only one person. From one shopaholic to another, it isn’t as hard as you think to rewrite your routine. After all, nothing changes if nothing changes.
My name is Eva McKee and I am a conscious consumer.
De Mesa, A. (n.d.). How Thrift Shopping Is Being Kind to The Earth. Swift Wellness.
Lawton, G. (2022). Fast fashion is ruining the planet – here’s how to make it
Peer Ledger. (n.d.). Dirty Laundry – how fast fashion is destroying the planet, and
why ethical apparel is the way to go. https://www.peerledger.com/blogs/dirty-laundry-how-fast-fashion-is-destroying-the-planet-and-why-ethical-apparel-is-the-way-to-go
Potempa, H. (2022). The dangers of fast fashion, consumer culture and microtrends.
Schlossberg, T. (2019). How Fast Fashion is Destroying the Planet. New York