Friday, 30 September 2011

Why Do The Project? Part 1: Anti-Consumerism

One thing I hear from new participants is that they're not sure what to tell people when they're asked why they're doing the Project. While there are a lot of reasons why you might do it (more than I could think of to include) and many of them will be quite personal, I'm going to do a little mini-series on the motto of the Dress Project to help clarify for people what, exactly, we mean when we say 'anti-consumerism, pro-simplicity, anti-conformity, pro-imagination.' I'm going to start off with the first phrase, 'anti-consumerism.'

First of all, I think it's important to understand that doing the Dress Project doesn't really indicate your habits one way or the other as far as shopping, spending, and consuming. Maybe you're the kind of person who maxes out credit cards on shoe shopping. Maybe you can't stand malls. Maybe you've always had enough money to buy whatever clothes you want or maybe you're pining after clothes you can't afford. Maybe you already feel strongly that we should be more frugal and less wasteful in how we buy our clothes, or maybe it's only just come onto your radar. The point is not that you are or are not living in a way that challenges typical consumer behaviour before the start of the Project. The point is that as you embark on the Project, whether in a small way or a big way, you are helping yourself and those around you to question and explore those behaviours.

As well, I do want to specify what the phrase 'anti-consumerism' does not mean, so we can avoid any confusion. It does not mean 'anti-shopping', 'anti-clothes', or 'anti-spending'. So what does it mean? I think consumerism is a mind-set where you consider yourself entitled to waste if it makes you feel good. Wikipedia calls it "a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts." If you find yourself buying to make yourself feel good, buying so much that you get rid of things that are perfectly functional just because they're taking up too much space, or buying more than you can afford, than the October Dress Project might be a good practice for you to help wean you of these habits and make you think about your purchasing decisions. If, on the other hand, you find that the above descriptions of anti-consumerism already resonate with how you live your life, then the October Dress Project would be a good way for you to open up conversations and raise awareness about your beliefs.

In summary, the 'anti-consumerism' portion of the ODP motto comes down to helping women of all stripes spend less money, use what they have more wisely, and raise awareness about how we can evaluate our desires and needs in the area of spending.

We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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