An internet search on our basic human needs delivered a variety of results. After a superficial analysis of the available lists, the most commonly mentioned physiological needs for pure survival, in order of importance, are: air, water, food, shelter and clothing.
As a conscious consumer, we know that we can regain power over the values that we believe in by changing our buying behaviours. More and more of us are buying local and/or organic produce. A number of us have subscribed to tiny footprint homes. So why are we still negatively impacting our fundamental number one (air) and two (water) needs by an overbearing demand on the last one in the line-up? Clothing. Or should I say fashion?
The fact is we want to look good. Psychologists and sociologists would be the first to agree that, in addition to the fulfilment of the basic needs listed above, most people will be motivated by the need for love, esteem and self-actualisation. In today’s world, quite a few of us would admit that the decision about what to wear each morning supports this motivation.
Now let’s take children’s clothing. From my experience as a mother, kids at pre-school and primary school age tend to rank comfort and practicality above the way their clothes look. At this stage, it is us, the adults, who express how beautiful or handsome they look in an outfit. (More about this linguistic gender distinction in another post perhaps?) From what I read and hear from other parents, once children hit the tween development stage (10-14), the need to be accepted and fit in starts to take more centre stage. So if it isn’t us adults introducing our children to fashion or style, they will eventually fall prey to the concept as an unavoidable aspect of their development.
I personally believe that this ‘need’ for style and the support of a sustainable lifestyle can go hand in hand. Friends and relatives always comment on how well dressed our kids are. These compliments are flattering. Mostly, because the majority of our children’s outfits – bar their underwear, socks and some pairs of shoes – have been pre-loved and sourced from charity shops. I take pride in that. Our children know where their clothes come from. They also know that the money we spend on the clothes goes to a good cause. And when they have outgrown them, we pass them on again.
I appreciate that we are lucky living in the middle of a metropolis with many well-stocked charity shops. Having said that, ever more charitable organisations are opening online shops. And I haven’t even begun to mention the wonderful sustainably and ethically produced kids’ clothing brands that are popping up all over the world and that are available for sale online. The subject of yet another post perhaps?
Other posts in Minimalism