reduce, reuse, and recycle

Hopefully, everyone is reducing, reusing, and recycling. I’m on board, but not just with my cardboard. I’m all about keeping my clothing, season after season, opting not to buy into each new trend that surfaces. When I look back through my photo stream, I’ve noticed I’m often wearing the same dress, from Venice, Italy, to Venice, California, for over a decade. So I ask you, why hop on the shopping train, why not instead, keep your garments wearing longer? This year, as floral once again flooded the racks, I included an old floral favorite, worn first on a Kentucky waterfront a decade ago, then on a spring night two years ago, and resurfaced this year during my trip to France. Packable, light, and totally worth rewearing. Before you purchase a new wardrobe this Fall, consider how you might reduce your footprint, by reusing, at the very least, much of what you already own, or shopping at vintage or recycle shops. Let’s think through this global issue of waste.

Perhaps it was the sensible manner of my upbringing, or my boredom with shopping, either way, I have always loved keeping articles of clothing that have served me well; I like finding what styles work for me, rather than attending to passing fads. Textile waste is a problem world-wide with little hope of solutions: “No one sets out to dump half their body weight in clothing into landfills each year, presumably, but somehow it still happens. Rubber, leather, and textiles make up more than 9 percent of municipal solid waste in the U.S. according to EPA estimates. That means the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothing every year” (Gilmore). My first solution, buy quality clothing, and keep it for years.

As you all know so well, I do like to look stylish, regardless of where I am, so when I found this graphic print, I hoped this dress would last for years, and it has. Coupled with a new hat and wedge heels for an afternoon date six years ago or worn while hiking down to the Mediterranean on a long hot and dusty trail this summer, this shift has done more than survive the elements.

Even my everyday school dress of years ago got reborn on a gondola ride in Venice. Imagine? Actually, it was as perfect on the day I won the BIG rock, paper, scissors competition as well as exploring the floating city. No need for a shopping spree when I could reuse this patterned favorite. Did I mention the strength of packable clothing? Traveling with only a carryon has become my standard, so keeping clothes to a minimal means they need to be versatile, comfy, and on point.

Even this summer’s bathing suit (or at least one of them) was an oldie. In fact, I have found that over the years, this shape-maker is still doing the trick. The first pic is from this summer on Laguna Beach, while the other is from a few years ago, celebrating at a roof-top pool party. My daughter’s smile (and my own) the other constant: same suit, same joy, years and years passing regardless.

This summer I did find one special new dress. It came with me to New York, to Paris, and even to the Santa Monica Pier. Weightless, it blew even in the slightest breeze, and considering the heat I experienced regardless of the coast, it was an everyday wear. Beach cover to evening wear. Love!

Before you decide you have nothing to wear, and have to venture out to that box-store craziness, dig a bit into your closet and let those old favorites take center stage. Before you throw your “old” textiles in the trash, consider donating, planning a friends-swap, or passing garments down. You’ll feel good about your choice to recycle, to reuse, all in the journey to reduce our epic waste dilemma.

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