I initially bumped into sustainability by accident while trying to save money. It was 2019, I had my first thoughts of buying a house, and was confronted with what seemed like the impossible obstacle of saving even five thousand dollars to use as a down payment. I made a decent salary, yet somehow each paycheck seemed to trickle through my fingers until there was nothing left. I had to have an honest conversation with myself- I sucked at making sacrifices. I set myself a firm savings goal, and set out to see where I could trim the budget.
Clearly, I loved shopping. Particularly clothes shopping. I was no stranger to thrifting, but until my goal was in place it was more a hobby than my sole means of acquiring clothing. Still, it was an easy enough shift to start exclusively freshening up my wardrobe with secondhand finds.
The more I started shopping at thrift stores, the more I saw all they had to offer. I needed a new toaster- found one (still in the box) at the thrift store. Needed picture frames? Thrift store. Needed Christmas wrapping paper? Thrift store. Before long, if I ever felt the need to purchase something, it became a bit of a fun challenge to do everything possible to find that item secondhand. This had the added bonus of delaying most of my purchases to the point that I realized I didn’t need to buy them after all.
When COVID struck, unable to visit thrift stores in person, I was plunged into the world of online thrifting. Once I was exposed to apps such as Depop and Poshmark, I began selling my used clothes online, padding what I was able to save and further entrenching me in the circular clothing economy. Facebook Marketplace solidified my ability to find almost anything I wanted without ever buying new. I discovered “buy nothing’ groups, in which members posted everything from power tools to babysitting services, for trade, for borrow, or free of charge. Once this sense of community infiltrated my frugal mindset, so did my sense of responsibility to the planet. Enter sustainability initiative.
The fact that my discovery of sustainability coincided with COVID probably enabled its success more than anything else. It became a fun set of rules to apply to each action, to give a bit more meaning to each seemingly meaningless day. Largely through YouTube, I began to actively research more sustainable swaps to apply to my own life. I re-grew herbs on my windowsill; I cooked almost all my meals at home; I switched my face wash bottles for bars; I sold my car. Each day I am searching for ways to reduce my footprint, and continuing to build the habits that have changed my life. And best of all, I have loved every second of it.
All in all, I met my savings goal. Met it many times over, at that. But I’m not sure I could have done it without the “why.” For me, sustainability is that “why.” It has provided a way for me to feel I’m doing my part for the world, even in a time we’re all so isolated from it. It is a blueprint to a simpler, happier, and richer life, and a journey I hope to continue sharing.
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YouTube: Used Gucci