How a Year Long Shopping an Changed my Life
Follow me on a look back to how a 1 Year challenge changed almost every aspect of my life for the ‘greener’. It all started back in January 2018 after a conversation with my long suffering other half regarding my shopping habit. Don’t get me wrong, I only ever spent within my means but this was an issue of space rather than cost. As we moved on to the second bottle of wine, a challenge was issued. The terms…
- No new clothes for one full calendar year
- Socks, Under-ware, Bras and slippers are exempt
- Second hand clothes are permitted i.e. Charity shops, ebay etc.
- Any item that has not been worn for 4 months+ is donated to charity.
This seems like a simple challenge but for me it felt like climbing a mountain. Unsurprisingly this was hardest at the start, with my inbox filling up with tempting offers such as, 50% off, free delivery etc. Unsubscribing from all these fast fashion sites was time consuming but worth it in the end, just to remove any tantalising bargains. I have always been as friends described ‘tight’ with money but happy to spend £80 a month on crap.
Changing bad habits is harder than you think, and it was only when I looked at my mobile data I could see how much time I wasted scrolling through pages and pages of cheap, unsustainable products. Again I removed the temptation by uninstalling shopping apps and limiting time spent on my phone.
After a few months I started to notice a change and not just my bank balance. My priorities changed, gone were the feelings of inadequacy and I no longer felt inferior all the time. I believe that this feeling came from the lack of marketing that bombarded me before I started the challenge.
I have never been the most confident person so before any social engagement there was always the nagging feeling of being ‘too fat’, ‘too out of touch’ and the classic ‘I have nothing to wear’ . Shopping second hand meant that I was still able to find a new outfit to get my shopping fix, help a good cause and explore my own style. I always used to find charity shops daunting, with higgledy-piggledy displays and alien layouts but the more I looked the more gems I found. There is an element of luck when shopping at charity shops, for every 100 items you reject there is 1 thing that you adore. For me one was a brand new grey work dress from FCUK with the tags still on, the kicker I only paid £8.00 for it! In that moment I knew I would never go back to my old ways.
Where a charity shop is based massively changes the stock they carry. For example the more affluent an area the more likely you are to find designer brands.
Talking to the volunteers is a great way to get the low down on when they receive new stock and in some special cases be able to speak to their higher ups to get specific items. I have agreements with a few local shops that save broken items for me, but this is very much at the discretion of the individual shops.
So that is the positive, now for the negatives. If you are looking for something specific, prepare for disappointment. Part of the charm when shopping second hand is you never know what you’re going to get. The way I dealt with this was to pop into the 3 or 4 different shops over my lunch break a few times a week. This may seem excessive but depending on the foot fall for each shop, the items in stock rotate quickly so the more you look, the more you find. Next the bane of most women shopping trips, women’s clothing sizes. Unlike high-street shops I really recommend looking 2 sizes up and 1 size down, for example a size 12 from Topshop is very different to a size 12 from peacocks, and remember it is only a number and not worth losing sleep over.
Did I make it the full year drum roll…………. No, regrettably not. My slip up came when looking for an outfit for a wedding. Despite my numerous searches I was unable to find anything suitable in time but I don’t feel guilty. I think that one dress all year is an amazing effort. Given the chance now I would always choose charity shops over high-street ones. I love the variety, the fact you are contributing to charity rather than lining some executive’s pocket and lastly the chance of me wearing the same thing as someone else is practically zero!
This challenge really was a turning point for me as it forced me to look at the sustainability of my wardrobe and this spread to other parts of my life. Queue the starter pack, bamboo toothbrush, shampoo bars and so on.
I really hope that this inspires you to pop into your local charity shop, I know that given the current pandemic charities are crying out for shoppers so what are you waiting for!!