Stuff

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This post is a response to Restless Heart by Delightfully Tacky

Stuff. The hallmark of American consumerism. Our culture can be so wasteful. Sometimes this is okay, like in hospitals, where extra packaging is needed to keep instruments sterile, where expired medication is thrown out for patient safety. But most of it is wasteful- fast fashion, planned obsolescence, the fact that we throw out about half the food we produce each year, the amount of packaging on the things we buy… need I go on?

Grocery-store

So here I am, a seamstress, a creator of stuff. Stuff that people buy and use. How do I reconcile that with my distaste for excessive consumption?

Elizabeth, the writer of aforementioned blog, wrote about her hopes and fears for the new year. One of the things she has wanted to do was open an online retail shop, but she has concerns: “ I’ve always had trouble extricating my job or career from who I am as a person.  I want, maybe need, the two to align, which is one reason I’ve never pulled the trigger on opening a retail shop, even though I’ve thought it would be fun and something I might actually enjoy.  I just don’t feel like I’d find fulfillment when it came to the fact that I was simply one more shop where people buy things, spend money on stuff that they probably don’t really need all that much, and contribute to the wastefulness of American culture.  I suppose that sounds overly dramatic, but it’s my thought process when I think about opening a retail shop.”

This paragraph struck a chord with me when I read it. I know what she means by needing her personal self and public/work self to align. I agonized over starting a blog for a year, like, “who really needs another DIY blog?” There are already so many out there with great content.

That same doubt hangs over this hobby of mine. I’m not sure if I should be a seamstress, even though I love it. I go through periods where being a seamstress is hard. I feel like I’m buying into American consumerism by just making more stuff, by driving to JoAnn fabrics to buy fabric for projects. I already have enough clothes- do I really need more? The people I make things for- do they really need more stuff? Minimalism and slow fashion are ideals to which I aspire.

Sewing is something I have done for over a decade. It is such a big part of my life that any self criticism of my sewing habit becomes a criticism of myself and my lifestyle. So how do I extricate myself from the association to American consumerism without throwing my sewing machine out the window and finding a new hobby? Everything else I want to pick up could either be tied to making stuff or consuming it.

roro trapeze dress

What it comes down to, for me, is that I am fueled by creativity. I feel proud using the things I’ve made. It makes me so happy when I see my sister wearing the clothing I’ve made her and my mom’s neighbor wearing that maternity dress I slimmed down after she had her baby. When I worked for Organic Climbing, I would go climbing at different rock gyms and geek out when I found out that they sold Organic’s gear, which meant that I probably made some of the chalk bags in stock.

everlane cardigan

It at least enriches my life, and those of the people who use the stuff I’ve made. Isn’t being/supporting a small seller better than buying fast fashion at Forever 21?  I say to Elizabeth- if you want to start a store, I think you should do it. Even if it isn’t perfectly anti consumerist, if it will make you a happier, more enriched person- do it! I’m sure the world could use more stores like Solv and Everlane.Good luck in this new year, Elizabeth. I’ll continue to read and enjoy your blog, and try to not rag on myself too much for writing mine.

Image credit: Green Schools

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