A while back, I mentioned that I’d be posting about non-gardening acts that fit naturally into a permaculture lifestyle (“And now for something not entirely different…”). While those acts percolated deep within the good intentions section of my brain, I promptly dropped the ball on sharing them with you. Today I happened upon a (not new) web site that reminded me of one of them, and delightfully morphed that single idea into three interconnected, socially and personally responsible, healthy ones: three great acts that act great together!
The site is “The Great American Apparel Diet.” On the “About” page, the project is described as, “…a group of women and two men who have decided to go on a diet of sorts. A fast really. We are completely eliminating ‘new apparel’ from our diets for one year…We all have our reasons for embarking on this project but it all gets down to this…who are we without something hip and new in our closets? We shall see.” Of course, the year has lapsed and the project has ended. But reading the information on this site is no less apt for the task at hand, which is to detach from consumerism in all its toxic forms and embark on a permaculture lifestyle through reduction. Allow me to explain.
I buy almost all my clothes at Goodwill. This is not only because I care about the middle third of reduce/reuse/recycle, but because I am cheap. And it doesn’t hurt that I can take advantage of the shoppers’ high that others experience, when they cast off the excess name-brand items purchased on a whim. I find that the high I experience when I find, say, a mint condition Orvis jacket for manly man for $5.99 is far greater than I ever experienced buying new items in the department store, even from the sale rack. I mean, it may be on sale, but they’re still not giving it away.
This focus on Goodwill as a wardrobe source has resulted in two problems: first, I find it easy to forgive myself for spending $20 frequently, even if I am walking out with a bagful of goodies; and second, I have more clothes than I have room to store or time to wear. Both of these problems violate the first third of the three r’s: reduce. I need to reduce both my spending on and my hoarding of clothing I just don’t need. The Great American Apparel Diet aimed to reduce not only its members’ carbon footprint but their spending. Reducing spending has more positive effects than I have time to list, and I’m sure that you, Reader, are aware of them anyway.
And then there’s the third form of reduction: me. I weigh too much – way too much. And Goodwill has made it easy for me to simply edge up a size when necessary. I literally have a basement full of boxes of pants and skirts that I can’t fit into. I have enough clothes that, if I could wear them, I could probably wear something different everyday for a year. So, the hoarding problem isn’t simply one of wanting something new (new to me, anyway); it’s also a problem based in the criminal neglect of my body and the need to cover it with something.
The moral of this story is my need to reduce: the amount of stuff I have, the amount of money I spend, and the amount of weight I carry. Eating clean and living closer to the earth will lend itself to all these goals, starting with the last one and working back toward the first. Reduction in the physical realm will allow my life to flourish in permaculture because it will clean up my body, my house, my finances, and allow me to really connect with the value of true abundance.