I spent fifteen minutes this morning shaving my daughter's favorite sweatshirt. It was getting pretty nubby, and not really looking good anymore. In years past this sort of thing might have been reason enough to get rid of the sweatshirt (especially if it were mine, not someone else's). Now, I want to keep the things I have as long as I can, for a couple of reasons.
First, I want to keep things looking nice because I want to keep using them. I don't want to go shopping for a new sweatshirt. In years past, going shopping was just something I did. I could pick up a sweatshirt because I was going to be at the store anyway. (Since I mostly use thrift shops, it wouldn't even be that expensive!) If I shave this sweatshirt once or twice, I may not need another sweatshirt until she grows out if it!
Second, I am concerned about the environment impact of the things I buy. I know thrift shops have more goods than they can sell in many cases, but they don't need me to donate a nubby sweatshirt because I no longer want it. Hopefully, more and more people are utilizing the second hand market. I see more consignment stores now than I did just ten years ago. I know we, as Americans, still tend to buy more new things than ever before and I cannot explain our ravenous appetite for stuff.
I didn't grow up taking care of my clothes, really. I mean, my mother washed my clothes and made sure they weren't stained, but that was about it. I had play clothes to wear after school so I wouldn't ruin my school clothes, but I wasn't aware that there was something I needed to do other than throw clothes in the washing machine. I don't know if I was just unaware, or if this was something people didn't do in the '80's. I'm sure my great-grandmother mended, and combed, and brushed her clothes. As a result, her clothes lasted. I want to make things last. I want to spend the little bit of time now to save my things from being wasted; I want to prevent waste through what my great-grandmother would have called neglect.
I only recently bought a sweater comb and started using it. I bought a cashmere sweater that started to pill after a season of constant wear, but I didn't want to throw it away and look for another. I had to look for another solution. I didn't want my sweater to look old, worn or neglected.
Neglect is a word we don't use much anymore. Maybe we should.