Saturday, March 26, 2011

If you must shop, shop for Japan

I'm sitting here typing this instead of figuring out an outfit for my kids' school fundraiser this evening. In my closet, there are at least half a dozen dresses that would be perfect for the tropical theme of this event, but I  am rethinking my plans, as it is raining and 55 degrees outside.

My plan has been all along to not buy anything new to wear to this fundraiser (more money to donate!) and recent events in Japan have gotten me to thinking about how our spending money could be used in ways to help where its most needed. It's kind of awkward for me, on a blog called A Year (Almost) Without Shopping to recommend things to buy, but consider it sort of like the tobacco industry slogan... if you must smoke... Yes, I set my bar high!

So here goes. Feel free to quickly change the page and come visit another day I am leading you astray;)

Threadless, a website which sells hip and edgy crowdsourced designs has two designs for a good cause: this one above, called Rebuilding Japan, to benefit the Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Fund and a lovely blue one called Many Hands to benefit Architecture for Humanity in New Zealand.

If you can handle browsing ShopStyle without triggering a binge, there are cute t-shirts from Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren, plus lovely red handbags by Rebecca Minkoff.

Say you really don't need any clothes, but might like to buy something for a good cause. Over at HapaBento they have set up shop on eBay, creating the Bento4Japan fundraiser, which includes adorable bento boxes, dishes and cookbooks — all donated by their manufacturers — so 100% of the sale price is being donated to the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Victims Relief Fund via Mission Fish. 

For other non-shopping ways tocontribute, check out my other blog, HapaMama, to find out how origami paper cranes can benefit the survivors of the disasters in Japan.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Giving it up for Lent

This isn't the first time I've made a conscious effort to not shop. For the past three years, I've been in the practice of giving something up for the 40 days of Lent. The traditional no-meat on Friday thing isn't quite my style. I prefer to choose to forgo things that are really near and dear to my soul. Coffee... chocolate... and yes, even clothes shopping.

That's what I did the first time I tried this Lenten practice. (I'm an all-or-nothing girl) One the one hand, it sounded extremely frivolous. So frivolous that I was embarassed to tell anyone my plan. But it made perfect sense.

At first, I found myself wandering around the mall, admiring window displays. One particular outfit at the Gap caught my attention. They had this rack of Liberty print floral shirts, paired with matching pastel cardigans. I am a sucker for anything that resembles an Easter egg, although that particular palette is not especially flattering on me. I obsessed about that outfit, stopping by the store several times to admire it and think up ways to justify its purchase. After a few days, I realized that I already owned a blouse with little yellow flowers on it, and that I could wear it with a lemon colored cardigan, also from my closet. I wore that combination obsessively for a few weeks. Until I realized that Easter egg shades really aren't very flattering on me!

By the end of those 40 days, I was jonesing to buy clothes. I have to admit that in the month afterwards, I  more than made up for any money I saved during that time. But it taught me a valuable lesson: as hard as it is to give up something I think I can't live without... it can be done. The time I would have spent wandering the malls or clicking on shopping sites, I spent doing some serious journaling, introspection and writing. That experience was the catalyst that started me on the path I'm travelling down now.

If you observe Lent, what is your practice?