Year for the Planet Year 2 Week 4: A Week of Emotional Decluttering

Year for the Planet is a campaign to make better choices for the planet. 2017 was when I fixed my eating habits. This year, 2018, is where I deal with my clothing choices.

It’s Week 2 of cleaning up the family house. To make better clothing choices needs an assessment of what you first have. As a summary of what I’ve just been through, here is a photo of a chair in my brother’s room, which accumulated eight years’ worth of dust.

I fully expected this to start crawling and ask me what’s up.

All week, I’ve been vacillating among feelings of disbelief, anger, and amusement. I couldn’t believe how much stuff I was looking at, unused for years and for many items, never been touched at all as the tags were still there. I was angry at so much waste, but perhaps that’s coming from a struggling emerging artist like myself who has pinched so many pennies in many countries and is often at the mercy of grants. I also couldn’t stop laughing at some of the terrible fashion styles, but then again, I was also looking at things bought as far back as 2008.

So far, I’m looking at a small fortune’s worth of my brother’s wardrobe. At a total of around 200 articles of clothing, most of them designer brands and excluding shoes, a conservative estimate is $12,000 USD. Whoa.

I can think of a lot of ways to spend twelve grand. A trip back to the Amazon. (Or hey, five trips to the Amazon.) A semester of graduate school. Mutual funds. A pilot’s license. Helping friends pay off their student debt. Helping Greece pay off its debt. Anything that doesn’t depreciate.

There are many times when I’ve realized that my views on the sustainability are because of growing up in a place that have precisely the opposite of what I now believe in. And while this is oftentimes depressing, I choose to see the bright side. First of which is that it’s easy to know what to do—just do the exact opposite of what it is you see. The world, mercifully, has opened up for me thanks to education and art residencies, and I am only happy to move forward.

But for this week while I am in the thick of it, there were moments when I was in tears. How on earth am I related to someone who shops at Zara Men? And who has shirts with tags that says “Made in Bangladesh”? Sheepishly, I had also accidentally washed a dry-clean-only Armani jacket. Notwithstanding my disbelief at realizing there was Armani in the house is the lack of care that went with it. It was covered in so much dirt so I thought I was doing it a favor and didn’t see the tag. Oops, I’m going to fashion hell.

My brother came over this morning, picked some clothes, picked a fight, and left. Well. So much for cleaning. The men in this town leave much to be desired; I’d go on with the intersectionality of sustainability and feminism, but I just did ten loads of laundry without so much as a thank-you and I am exhausted. I haven’t even started with his pirated DVDs yet.

So. Can I interest you in a couple of suitcases full of Calvin Kleins? Hmm?

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