One question. Three words. Two of them just one syllable. 

When the Aldi Finds post comes up on Instagram, and the first thing that comes to mind is, "Oohhh...I need to stop by there!" follow that thought up by asking yourself, "Is it necessary?" 

When the sale flyer lands in your inbox and you see your favorite store is taking an additional 40% off the clearance price, instead of clicking on the link, ask yourself, "Is it necessary?" 

This simple question goes along very nicely with others, such as...

  • Do I really need it?
  • Will my life be better if I have this?
  • Could I use something I already own?
  • What could I use the money for instead?

And my personal favorite...
Why did I not need it before I knew it existed? 

Photo by Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash

I'm currently reading How To Break Up With Fast Fashion: A guilt-free guide to changing the way you shop – for good, a book written by Lauren Bravo and published in January 2020. While much has changed in the world since its publication, including COVID, lockdowns, supply-chain issues, recessions, and $5 cartons of eggs, the idea of mindless buying or overbuying, has not. In fact, if anything, the 2020 pandemic made the problem worse, when we were all stuck inside, but Amazon was still delivering. And now that the financial status of the U.S., among other countries, is on the verge of insanity, it often feels that our only option for clothing our kids and ourselves are the cheaply made t-shirts and one-season pants offered by "fast fashion" vendors like Old Navy and Walmart. 

I get it. I have five kids. Although the eldest is out on her own and hasn't wanted me to buy her clothes in a few years due to a difference in style taste {ahem}, the other four are all still in their growth spurts and it feels like a never-ending cycle of buying fast fashion, because it's what we can afford, only to have it fall apart, wear out, or simply give up months, and sometimes weeks, after purchase.  

In 2020, I read Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter, which I found both fascinating and thought-provoking. After spending four years living and working in several developing nations (or, a little less P.C. - third-world countries), I wasn't entirely unaware of the situations described by Minter and Bravo in their respective books. When we lived in a small country in southern Africa, we commuted almost daily past a local garment factory where GAP and Levis jeans were made. In one Southeast Asian country, down a bumpy dirt road, I found beautiful pottery bowls in a store, stamped with the official emblem of Williams & Sonoma, and was told they were made in a factory not far away. And yet in each case, a new pair of GAP jeans or a set of mixing bowls would cost more to buy than the worker who made them would make in a month? Two months? Six months? It was, and is, sobering. 

And so, I ask again, is it necessary? Or do I, in fact, have enough? These are the questions I'm pondering and have been for quite some time. And of the things I have, how much do I donate (and thus contribute even more to the "global garage sale") and how much do I keep in the hopes that I can repurpose it? I'm not an environmentalist, and I don't think we can save the planet (I mean, Revelation is a bit of a spoiler alert on that idea), but I do believe that God has entrusted us with this creation of His, and we are to be good caretakers and stewards of the resources He gives us. And beyond that, and even more importantly, we are to love the people in this world, as He does. Am I loving them well by sending them my junk or supporting the working environments I've both observed and read about, by buying fast fashion? I don't think I am. 

This is not the end of the conversation, but it is the beginning. I'm still pondering, still reading, still learning. January 2023 was a month of changing habits and beginning a journey of becoming a better steward of many things, including my body (what I eat and how I treat it), my time (what I spend it on), my money and resources, and now, apparently, my closet. I don't know where this will end, but I suspect that ENOUGH just became my word of the year. 


  1. You are so speaking my language. I am trying earnestly to declutter what I have and not fill the place with something else. I get the fast fashion issue. My mom believed in having few items of higher quality. I took the opposite stance and said I wanted lots of clothes to choose from and if they didn't last long, ok. Variety! After 52 years of marriage I have entirely too much. I can't declutter fast enough. I am still looking for a solution and routine that actually works. 🤦‍♀️

    1. Much of this pondering of mine came about as a result of helping my parents declutter, downsize, and move this last year. I shudder to think what it would take for us to move out of our house, which is why this is something that I'm actively working towards now, Jane. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. I love this! Especially that question: "Why did I not need it before I knew it existed?" It goes along with something we had to learn after we got married: "Just because it's free doesn't mean it's worth getting." It's a hard habit to break, especially when you grew up being taught the opposite mindset. But not only does it save money (because freebies and discounts are usually just loss leaders for bigger purchases), but it reduces the amount of unused or barely-used stuff taking up valuable space. We still accumulate more than I can believe, but I'd like to think it's less than we'd have otherwise!

    1. So true! Free pens, free shopping bags, free keychains and travel mugs...it's so easy to think, "It's perfectly good, I hate to get rid of it and then have to pay good money for something like it later." But what's the cost (mentally) to us when our cabinets and storage spaces are overflowing? It is a hard mindset to change, but a good one to work on. Thanks, Elizabeth!


A reminder: there are more than 400,000 words in the English language, please use them wisely.


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