curiouser & curiouser Podcast: Episode 41 (Talking About Changing Our Mindset And Habits When It Comes To Clothing With Haley Lieberman Of Shop Tomorrows)

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I finished this conversation with Haley Lieberman (founder and CEO of Shop Tomorrows) feeling SO fired up about all things clothing. I knew Haley was going to be the perfect person to talk to about this topic, and I was 100% correct.

Recently, I’ve felt a big pull to change my habits, mindset, and overall approach when it comes to the way I view clothing. The more I’ve learned about the clothing industry (fast fashion in particular) and the negative ways it impacts the people who make our clothes, the environment, and sometimes even the health of the people wearing the clothing, the more compelled I’ve been to really examine my behavior and see how I can make changes — both on a small scale and, hopefully, in a larger way as well. (I highly recommend checking out the documentary The True Cost on YouTube about the clothing industry.)

Here are some quick stats about clothing that I found staggering:

-80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased worldwide each year, which is 400% more than a decade ago.
-The fashion industry is the world’s second-largest polluter, second only to the oil industry.
-One in six people work in the global fashion industry.
-Only 10% of the clothes people donate to charity or thrift stores get sold.

There’s SO much inexpensive clothing available to us, and there has been for years now, so we as a culture forget that it wasn’t always that way. It’s so easy to buy a couple of shirts or a jacket at Target while running in to grab something from the grocery section and not think twice about it. Whether you’ll actually get much wear out of those things is another story. And then, what will you do with it when you don’t want it anymore? Will it hang, forgotten, in the back of your closet? Will it sit in a bin in your attic? Will it be added to a landfill somewhere? Will it be donated (and if so, will it actually get into the hands of someone who can wear it)? None of those options sound all that great, do they? (P.S. This has been my relationship to clothing for YEARS, so this is most certainly not me being judgy!)

But it wasn’t always this way. Check out this comparison (found here in a 2013 article):

“In 1960, an average American household spent over 10 percent of its income on clothing and shoes – equivalent to roughly $4,000 today. The average person bought fewer than 25 garments each year. And about 95 percent of those clothes were made in the United States.

Today, the average American household spends less than 3.5 percent of its budget on clothing and shoes – under $1,800. Yet, we buy more clothing than ever before: nearly 20 billion garments a year, close to 70 pieces of clothing per person, or more than one clothing purchase per week.”

Haley is someone who’s been walking the walk when it comes to a much more sustainable and intentional relationship to clothing for years. In fact, her company is a secondhand marketplace for children’s clothing. And while I think it can be easy to get on board with secondhand clothes for kids (after all, they grow out of things quickly), I don’t think it’s the default for most adults.

Haley said several things during our chat that have stuck with me in a big way. One of them was, “We don’t need to make more stuff. Everything we need is right here between us all, within our communities, our families, and our wider networks.” That rings SO true for me. She also described shopping fast fashion as “a sugar high,” which is an analogy that feels so perfect. It feels great in the moment, but afterward you will likely feel bad about it — maybe even guilty because you know you probably should have made a better choice or avoided the purchase altogether.

Does this mean I’m never going to buy new clothes? NO WAY — of course I will! I just hope to make those future purchases much more mindful and less frequent.

Take a listen to this episode to hear us talk about modeling an intentional clothing relationship to our kids, how to make this shift happen amidst busy lives, making secondhand cool, and so, so much more.

Oh, and here are the resources she mentions toward the end of our conversation. I can’t wait to dig into these!:

The Wardrobe Crisis (podcast)
Articles of Interest (podcast)
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (book)
The Conscious Closet (book)
Politically in Fashion (organization)

I hope you love listening to this conversation with Haley as much as I did recording it!:

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