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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

On 'Simple Matters' by Erin Boyle

I've just finished reading 'Simple Matters' by Erin Boyle, which I've read in two sittings.  This book manages to be aesthetically pleasing, inspirational and filled with practical advice with how to be more purposeful in how we live, and yes, consume.

One thing that I have been thinking about, which I re-read today is the passage where she refers to a book by Elizabeth Cline called 'Overdressed' (a book that I would now like to read).

"Lest I oversimplify the task of donating unwanted clothes, I should also note that our fast fashion problem has resulted in a thrift-store problem [...] Today, thrift stores are being weighed down by the detritus of bad choices. Cheap clothing made of synthetic fabrics are overwhelming donation centres. [...] We have the misconception that there's always someone else in our immediate vicinity who needs these clothes.  We assuage our guilt about our bad clothing choices by  assuring ourselves that someone in need is getting what we no longer want when that might not necessarily be true. The bottom line: don't throw your unwanted clothes in the garbage, but don't expect that your neighbor is going to be the one wearing them, either.  And then buy less."  [Simple Matters, pages 131-132]

This has stuck with me, because I agree with her.  Last week I went to the post office and passed the window of the local Hospice shop where the window boldly proclaimed: 'bargain buys- fill a bag for $1!' Looking closer into the window revealed a large space filled with the dregs of consumerism. I do realise that sounds quite harsh.  What I say next will possibly sound contradictory- I have been a regular op-shopper since I was 15 and I am someone who donates regularly (as I type this there are two big bags waiting to be donated to the Sallies tomorrow sitting in the car).  I think that reusing and buying second hand is a budget friendly way to minimise our impact on the environment and help charities help clothe/feed/support families and individuals in need.  But reading this passage from Erin Boyle's book has made me think- yes, it is fantastic to donate and give these unneeded/unwanted items another lease on life but it is another reminder to be more conscious in my purchasing decisions in the first place.  This is because the rationale she critiques is one I have used to justify impulse buys - if it doesn't fit/don't like it etc I can just donate it to the local Salvation Army store.

I also found her advice on creating (or as she terms it 'growing') a minimalist wardrobe really helpful and have been doing a quiet experiment (mostly for L. and E.) of seeing how long we can go without buying new clothes for them as they have more than enough even after regular purging of their clothes.  I have got my eye on one pair of nude heeled sandals, as my next purchase for summer but beyond that am going to see if I can avoid making any new purchases this summer.

Has anyone else read this book?  What did you think of it? Did you feel compelled to make any changes after reading it? x

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