What I Own Is Not Ultimately Mine
Ethical Trade Stories: Corynne S.
Though I’ve only just started seeking out a sustainable lifestyle, as I learn and grow, I have remind myself of these two facts: first, all of what I own is not ultimately mine — it belongs to God and to the service of others.
Fashion and shopping have always been a big part of my life. Growing up, I would spend many afternoons after school hitting up Forever 21, Target and Old Navy to buy new clothes. I would spend hours on Pinterest exploring new trends and planning out new outfits. I have a privileged life and my very full, ever-expanding closet is certainly proof of that.
At its worst, my love for fashion and shopping is pure, unadulterated greed. But at its best, fashion is a way for me to connect with the world — to find common ground with people who come from very different backgrounds and hold different beliefs than me.
From the Catechsim:
The catechism says, “Christian life strives to order this world’s goods to God and to fraternal charity,” (CCC 2401). Through fashion, through a shared attraction to a trend or a style, I can connect with a stranger. We have a starting point for real conversation and real relationship. I know, I know — this is pretty idealistic. But when this actually happens, it’s amazing.
All the same, greed still remains and that’s problem. I’ve found though that seeking out a more sustainable and waste-less way of living is the remedy for it. I had always thought I would have to trade in all of my clothes for a couple pieces that I couldn’t really afford. However, as the awareness around sustainable living has increased, I know now this isn’t necessarily true.
If living sustainably means shopping less and wasting less, then why would I throw out all of what I already own in order to buy more?
Though I’ve only just started seeking out a sustainable lifestyle, as I learn and grow, I have remind myself of these two facts: first, all of what I own is not ultimately mine — it belongs to God and to the service of others. Second, I’m called to care for what I’ve been given. Living these things out will begin to strip the greed from my life. Thus, this isn’t just a physical practice, but a spiritual one, as well. All of that being said, here are a couple of the habits I’m currently taking up in my day-to-day life.
Easy tips to be more mindful:
1. Take Inventory
As I mentioned before, my closet is bloated. It includes clothes I bought over six years ago, so I often lose track of what clothes I actually own. At least twice a year, I pull everything off the shelves, take an inventory and come up with new outfit ideas for the upcoming season. This cultivates a renewed gratitude in me for all I’ve been given.
After I take inventory, I reorganize my closet. This helps me to see old clothes in new ways. For instance, instead of organizing by color, I’ll change it to be by style.
3. Borrow Vintage
The 90’s are in right now and I am all about it. Guess who has a ton of original 90’s clothing that’s not in use? My mom! Recently, she let me scavenge her basement for old clothes and let me take home a few items. It was a great connecting point for us — we got to talk and bond over some of the things she used to wear.
Though I know I have so much to learn and so many old habits to correct, sustainable living is a new way for me to grow in holiness and to live out Catholic social teaching. It reminds me that my life — my closet, my pantry, my home, my work, everything I own and everything I do — is not my own.