There is an easy misunderstanding that if you begin to buy ethically out of recent inspiration, your desires,
mindset, and habits will immediately follow suit.
For instance, if you begin thrifting as an alternative to fast fashion, but have not yet developed intentionality, you might find yourself repeating fast-fashion habits. Thrifting can actually feed consumerism when intentionality is absent; for example, you might think: “Since I only spent $5 on this dress and wore it three times, it’s not a big deal that I am getting rid of it already. Besides—I am donating it to another thrift store.” Sadly, large amounts of donated clothing are still thrown into landfills, and this pattern reveals that many of us with the desire to shop ethically still have a mindset that needs healing.
Let’s begin by asking some questions:
What are my inclinations and intentions in my browsing habits?
Am I able to browse and appreciate fashion stores as if they are museums that hold the art and stories of
Do these boutiques or websites call me to reflect and wonder?
By purifying our true intention behind what we purchase, we will make these thrifted or second-hand items last and cherish them as little treasures that went through many hands. To reflect: “I hold a story, someone’s story, when I choose to go after second-hand items” already slows down the shopping process and can help prevent impulse buying.
Some of us are quite aware of our inclinations and intentions. For those that have a tendency toward
“shopping therapy” or simply go online browsing out of boredom might experience a heaviness or sluggish
after-effect as a result. These tendencies can squelch an opportunity for unleashing creativity.
When we begin to see clothing as a gift or a testimonial art form of a person, there is a new wealth of
understanding and purpose that we tap into. Our creative senses have a new space to grow when we allow
ourselves the freedom to wear articles of clothing many times over in various ways.
So how do we make the shift?
Surrender, balance, and intentionality are key.
Surrender: In surrendering the need to “keep up” or earn approval, there is healing.
Some of us hold onto a fear of wearing the same outfit more than once around the group of people who just saw us wearing it last. There is a fear that “I might be seen as less or not having much to offer.” Many of these little fears have bigger roots that we can begin to unravel and understand through Our Lady’s gentle hands that lead us to the Son.
Yes, the clothing a person wears does have the capacity to draw up the deepest parts of them when they are willing to reflect and contemplate. There is room for the Holy Spirit to speak and heal, even here, in
something so simple yet profound as the clothing we put on.
Balance: this is not a call to scrupulous shopping tendencies or demeaning fast-fashion stores.
We can make strides towards ethical and sustainable habits without having to shift our entire closet into only organic eco-clothing. We also do not have to avoid shopping altogether. We must be gentle with ourselves in this process of shifting our mindset as we grow in intentionality.
Intentionality: Developing ethical habits take time. We will most likely not be perfect in our ethical and sustainable habits, but that should not discourage us from practicing.
When we grow in knowledge of ourselves, from knowing our desires to discovering the “why” in our
tendencies, we are growing in intentionality. The more we understand the workings of our hearts, the more
we will become sensitive to the needs of others, which leads to our actions reflecting this awareness.
All of this to say, the purpose of seeking to be ethical and sustainable in our buying habits is to recognize the dignity of the human person. We embrace the dignity of human person when we come to know our own worth, cloth ourselves accordingly, and honor the persons that crafted these pieces.
Discover Litany’s history in choosing to be intentional, reflect, and be vessels of healing: “What’s In a Name”
Another aid in shifting to a proper mindset is by understanding the definitions of ethical-, sustainable-, and eco-clothing as seen in “What’s that Even Mean”