Enough is enough; retailers won’t agree

One red dress looks like another.

I was fascinated to learn that there is a Buy Nothing New Month in Australia. I love this idea… though of course retailers will not… (I’m sure the liquor retailers don’t like Dry July either.)  I was in the US last summer on holiday with my family and I was completely overwhelmed by the consumerism. (And quite frankly everything began to look the same). I heard that 10% of all women’s clothes sold in Australia are never worn. It is shear waste. I wondered if I could go a year without purchasing anything new for myself. No shoes, clothes or accessories. I have not managed it completely… but I did go for 8 months without anything new for myself personally.

Clearly this aligns to what we believe at RedBalloon– which is all about buying less “stuff” and instead living in the moment and enjoying shared experiences. Our photo albums and our memories are what we treasure.

With self storage one of the fastest growing industries in Australia – do we really need any more stuff? And just think what all this waste is doing to the environment… recycling starts with reusing.

In our little bit for the planet, RedBalloon has a green program, as you would expect… it is the least we can do.

My personal “lose pledge”, earlier in the year to stop buying unnecessary items for my wardrobe – really changed how I viewed shopping. I have learned to really appreciate the things I do have… More more more does not mean better… and where on earth would I store anything else?. I just didn’t need any more new clothes or shoes – they wouldn’t make life any more fabulous, they wouldn’t make me smarter or more efficient, buying new clothes wouldn’t do something worthwhile for the planet. Instead they were just accumulating in the back, front and sides of my wardrobe. So much so that my daughter recently took up her own recycling task of selling my shoes on eBay… I may have a young entrepreneur on my hands. I can gladly report that I have stuck to my guns and found an invigorated sense of enthusiasm in combining my old favourites to create “new” outfits. Red is red after all.

I also believe strongly in giving to others who need it more – RedBalloon is a gifting company, and the team is generous with its time and spirit, and this spirit of generosity is shown in all that we do. For instance, we have a program called ‘We Care,’ where each RedBallooner gets one day  to go and work for the charity or cause of their choice.  I send my pre-loved outfits to a charity called Dress for Success, which dresses women ready for job interviews and employment… (I can only imagine how many women are turning up for job interviews wearing red.) We also run office clothes swaps a couple of times a year, which are organised by one of our corporate account managers (and chief story-teller) Arielle.

So, here’s the challenge… what do you ‘not need’ ask yourself the question ‘Do I really need this?’… I have a friend who has argued that his wife is ‘saving him into the poor house’ she just cannot resist a deal.  You don’t save money if you buy stuff you don’t need (or even like.)

Have fun – it’s a game. Clothes swaps are the new black.

This entry was posted in Lessons Learned and tagged , , ,

5 Comments

  1. Megan Barrow
    Posted October 25, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for this post Naomi. As I was reading it I was picturing my wardrobe and the clothes I had bought for ‘others’ that I don’t wear!

    I really needed your words having just left employment to start my own business. At the back of my mind I think I need to buy new clothes to impress potential new clients. But I don’t; I have more than I need and should be spending on other facets of business.

    Thanks again – love your style and leadership!

  2. Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I agree with you, but in a different way. Of course as an ethical retailer, retailing natural and organic products for baby and family, I am likely to say something like this, however I would be regardless of my profession.
    I am saddened to see people looking for the continual bargain, with the excuse that money is tight. They will go online, to big discount stores, all to buy more more more as cheaply as they can. Then they will go to a big brand name, and spend a horrid amount on a piece of clothing purely for the name, without any consideration to the ethics of its manufacture.

    Yet, it wasn’t that long ago where we did have our ‘good outfit’ our ‘play outfit’ and so on, preferring quality over quantity. We don’t need so many clothes, so many possessions, I totally agree.

    Instead, why don’t more of us choose a good quality, ethically made, piece of clothing, over 10 cheap fall apart, probably made in poor conditions, pieces? Why don’t we buy one bottle of Organic Skin Care, use it sparingly, knowing it is good for our skin, instead of blindly buying what we see in commercials without a thought?

    While retailers like us are struggling in the fight against the online and big chains, we offer quality, ethical manufacture, and products you can really enjoy and cherish. We offer the opportunity to bring your family up with the best of health, and the best of karma! And surprisingly, our prices are very comparable if you really look at what you are buying.

    So yes, less is best, less rubbish, more quality.

  3. Posted October 25, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Hi Naomi,

    I really enjoyed reading this weeks blog! As a Stylist and Image Consultant we constantly try and eduate our clients on how to build a Mix & Match wardrobe so they really do maximise every dollar they spend.
    The frigthening statistic is that on average women waste approx. $6000 a year on clothing that they just never wear…that’s crazy!!!!! If the garments on sale it doesn’t mean its good for you!!! Ladies get into your wardrobes and have fun creating new outfit combinations that make you feel terrific!

  4. Posted October 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi Linda,

    Thanks for your thoughts – and this century those businesses (including retailers) who stand for something will not only survive but thrive.

  5. Posted October 28, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    They say we wear just 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time and after reading the fabulous How Never to Look Fat Again book, know why. We avoid the clothes that don’t make us feel like a million bucks! One way around this is to book one of the fashion styling experiences from RedBalloon. I had a fantastic 2-hour experience with Angela in Sydney in 2006 and think it may be time to book it again! I am sure she and the other wonderful stylists can help you avoid shopping disasters.

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