The Dumpster Jacket

Early last week, I went through all my clothes because I felt like I had too much stuff that just wasn’t being used. All of the energy put into production for these pieces, and they were just sitting in a pile, waiting to be worn. I started feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff I had, and feeling like I was drowning in it. I spent so much time and energy moving it around, sorting it, making sure it didn’t get in the way – I was so frustrated at one point that I seriously considered just selling and donating everything in that split second.

And even now, a week later, I’m sorting through a pile of my belongings – more than just clothes this time – wondering how I managed to collect all these things without realizing that I already had so much stuff. I’m well aware of the fact that it was and is my mindset, but I wonder how I could be so wasteful of time, resources, and space. I was flat out wasteful, and once I realized that, I wanted to change. I know I’m not the only person who has realized what was happening.

One morning when I was in Copenhagen, I took the garbage out before class. Because I didn’t understand any of the words and symbols labeling them, I checked each dumpster before finding the correct one. As soon as I opened it, I threw my stuff in; before the lid could close, though, something caught my eye. I opened it up again to find what appeared to be a perfectly fine denim jacket from H&M. I lifted it out, inspected it – didn’t see anything. I decided to sniff it – didn’t smell anything. So I took it back to my room, looking stupified because I just found what was a very nice jacket that had absolutely nothing wrong with it in a dumpster.

Later that day, since I had to do laundry anyhow, I threw it in with the rest of my clothes and hoped I wouldn’t discover the reason it was thrown away after having washed it. After I finished doing laundry, I realized that I hadn’t even checked the size. My thoughts were so focused on the fact that I found a perfectly good jacket in a food waste dumpster that I hadn’t even thought to check to see if it was fit – I had decided that if it wouldn’t fit, I would donate it so someone else could use it. However, it was perfectly my size. A more perfect fit than most clothes I buy for myself, actually. Well, now it was mine. I still have no clue as to why it was thrown away. (I stipulate that it must have been accidental or the person just had to get rid of it somehow).

You might be wondering if I actually wore a jacket I found in a dumpster that I don’t know the origin of. Well, look at this. Dumpster chic is now a thing and I have no shame in stating that I salvage things that are still usable.

As it is currently, half of my wardrobe is from thrift shopping. People who think that thrift stores don’t have anything good are so wrong. If something is almost perfect, it’s simple to just make a slight change to the item if you know how to sew. And, if you really have some time on your hands and a little bit of inspiration, you can make a completely different item out of something basic. It’s a spectacular use of resources that saves you money and allows you to be more creative in your life, and I highly recommend trying it with one or two items!

Once you discover the wonders of thrift shopping, it’s really easy to get caught up in wanting to buy all the things that you like because “they’re so much cheaper!” BE CAREFUL! If you don’t need it, don’t buy it! Think about what you’re going to use, what you really need, and how much you already have. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t splurge once in a while if you come across a spectacular find that you’ll probably never be able to use (my splurge item is the skirt seen in this photo taken by Caroline Ousager), but to be more aware of what you have, what you can use, and how much you’re purchasing.

Part of the reason I wanted to share my thoughts on this concept was to inspire others to live a better life, both for themselves and their world. I have a friend who is passionate about the planet and how we as humans can do better in our care of the world and its inhabitants – if you’re interested in reading some of her profoundly moving think pieces, you can click here. Sarah’s arguments in favor of living a more humane and sustainable life are incredibly compelling, and her dedication to these causes and educating people on this is admirable. She’s been the biggest inspiration to me in changing my lifestyle, and I’ll always be grateful for the things I’ve learned from her.


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