Updated: Nov 14, 2019
On Labor Day - a grey, muggy Monday here in New York - I made the best of the unfortunate weather by taking the chance to ruthlessly clear out my wardrobe.
I'm talking: Twelve plastic trash bags, two huge canvas storage bags, and an overflowing Ikea Frakta bag, all positively straining at the seams. Surveying the heaped piles at the end of the day, I admittedly felt satisfied–but also totally horrified. As someone known among friends as a pretty intense declutterer (who has also learnt to frequently shed my belongings over the course of moving countries, cities, and homes more than ten times in the past seven years) I wondered how the hell I'd managed to amass such an excessive amount of stuff.
The clear-out had been driven by a broader impulse towards sustainability that is currently shaping my actions across the board. Like many others, news of impending climate apocalypse has motivated me to address my habits of consumption and waste. The irony is that I don't even consider myself a Shopper with a capital S – clearly, there's a certain amount of self-delusion at play. But my life is changing in a myriad of ways right now, and the current moment feels like a chance to face my materialism in a more conscious and ethical way.
This mood has also affected the way I think about work. Rather than impulsively launching new projects (my old favourite!) without fully considering how I'll sustain them, I am trying to quality-inspect my commitments at the seams. Slowly but surely, I'm learning to ask myself: Will this retain its value in the long-term? Do I feel good in it? Does it match with the existing components of my life (or wardrobe)?
If the answer is no, then it goes back on the rail, regardless of whether we're talking about a job opportunity or a pair of jeans. The heaped piles of my Labor Day efforts were a timely reminder that resources - be they financial, material, or energetic - are simply too precious to waste.
On a similar wave? Here's a guide to buying better-quality clothing.
A great guide to what it takes to sustain a creative life, financially.