Giving Up the Consumerism Hustle

During seminary, I remember there were two or three students who were doing a clothing buying fast during the season of Lent. I had never heard of fasting from anything except food during the season of Lent (a kind of convenient time to cut out sugar or sweets before Spring and Summer). I was intrigued and asked a lot of questions. What if you needed an item of clothing? “We’ll trade clothes if there is something we really need, but probably we won’t need anything.”

It wasn’t as if as a seminary student, I had a disposable income that enabled me to go shopping often, however, taking a fasting from buying something was a new concept for me.

Two years ago, during the season of Lent, many of my congregation did the very same thing. As they looked into their closets, they realized there was a lot of unneeded clothes that could be used by others. We were able to donate to the homeless shelter and to the local prison clothing ministries that allowed for people to take what they needed.

In each of these cases, I realized that the instinct to buy more clothes or different clothes for ourselves or our kids is something that lies at the heart of our consumeristic, capitalistic society. All around us is the message to check out this new thing or look what is now available. All around is the pressure to buy just one little thing.

I’m giving up the consumerism hustle.

Over the past year as we have been centered at home, I have thrown away more clothes than I ever have before because we have worn holes in them. Without the pressure to have something new for people to comment on and without the pressure to wear clothes that indicate a certain status or success, we have worn the same clothes more frequently. What I have found is that clothes last much longer than I realized (except for the knees of boys pants!).

The push and the pull to just go see if there is something new is so strong because the messaging and the marketing doesn’t stop. It surrounds us as we drive, as we shop, and even as we check social media. This constant influx makes us think that we need just one more thing or that these shoes will give us the confidence we need to head into the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Instead, throughout this year, we have found neighbors who are just the right size for hand me downs. We have porch dropped clothes the clothes that we haven’t worn through and we have made connections to what others’ need. And maybe just maybe as we have sorted and collected those clothes, we have also reminded others that listening to each other and helping meet each other’s needs is much more meaningful than new clothes.