Thursday, February 26, 2015

showing my stripes

A few weeks ago I taught my students that our actions should reflect our values, and our values should be reflected in our actions. In other words, if we value honesty, we shouldn't tell lies. If we do lie, our behavior indicates that we don't truly value honesty. Since then, I've started thinking deeply about whether my actions reflect my values. 

This past weekend, I went with a friend to take some things to the local consignment shop. I'm on a (slow) mission to reduce the amount I have in my closet. We didn't have much luck at that shop, so my friend suggested we go to Plato's Closet. I reluctantly agreed. I've had terrible luck with them in the past, but I was willing to do just about anything at that point to keep me from my research. 

The experience I had at Plato's this past weekend was like none I've ever had before. The store must have had a makeover because the carpet looked brand new, the racks weren't crammed, and it even smelled normal in there. Most of the clothes seemed to be in great condition, including one striped sweater. It wasn't just any striped sweater, though. It was one that I had actually wanted years ago, but couldn't afford, so settled for a similar one instead. Even though at the time I knew it was too short and too boxy, I still took it home with me in hopes that I could make it work.

Long story short, I tried on the sweater at Plato's, loved it, and bought it. For the first time in years, I hand-washed something, too! That's how you know that I really wanted to wear it. I wore it a few days later when we had an abnormally warm day. That day I couldn't help but think about what that sweater represented.

I value conservation. I recycle. I even take pop bottles out of garbage cans and put them in the recycling bin. I reuse. Instead of putting my sandwiches in zip-loc bags, I put them in tupperware. I have canvas bags when I go grocery shopping. I reduce, but not nearly as much as I reuse and recycle. I reduce by bringing a travel coffee mug to Starbucks instead of getting one of their coffee cups (which gets you a 10 cent discount if you didn't know!). But I still buy new clothes every month.

So do my actions reflect my values? Maybe, but I know I could do better. Perhaps more thrifting and less mall shopping would be the solution? What do you think about buying new vs. buying used? Do your actions reflect your values?

Sweater: thrifted J. Crew | similar
Necklace: Forever 21 (old)
Belt: Old Navy | exact
Jeans: The Limited | similar
Flats: Old Navy | option

Also, Larissa recently wrote a thoughtful post on consumerism. You should give it a read.


  1. I find nothing wrong in buying used clothes. I get a fair amount of my clothes at the recycling center. I donate my clothes there as well. Since it free for people to take them home with them.

    P.S. My blog has move to P.S. My blog has move to

  2. I love your sweater! Bright yellow is one of my favorite colors to wear :)

    Lauren | Disco Daydream

  3. Cute, cute, cute yellow stripes.

  4. Have you read Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline? It is about educated consumerism in the realm of clothes consumption. I found it fascinating. As for myself, I do try to buy used when I can, but it doesn't always happen. Poshmark is my friend.

  5. I think it has to be a mix. You just can't find all the basics and specific items when thrifting. I think if you buy quality new clothing that you want to wear for years and make sure to recycle/donate any old clothing you can allow you to keep your values. I love your 'new' sweater by the way. The fit is perfect!

  6. I love the idea of buying things secondhand, but I just don't have much luck. And if we are being honest (because I would say that I value honesty), I'm not sure I value conservation as much as I wish I did. I mean, I try not to be too wasteful, but I don't remember to do the things that I intend to do, like bringing my reusable bags to the grocery store ( I always forget them, or even if I remember, they get buried at the bottom of my cart before I realize the cashier has bagged everything). Anyway, it's awesome that you found this sweater and I hope you have success in buying more secondhand items!

  7. Glad you were able to find the sweater at a great price. I am like you that I recycle and bring my lunch in containers rather than brown bag. I use glass water bottle and refill my water instead of having the disposable plastic ones. I don't have any problem with buying used clothes but for me it's the time factor. I rarely even go to the stores due to lack of time and find it easier to shop online. I would be hesitant to buy used items online unless it's something that I've tired on before to know the sizing.


  8. love this I am a fan of yellow so this makes me smile. Link up on my blog if you would like to come join us

  9. i've always been a big proponent of recycling and avoiding items that are only meant for one-time uses too, like the things you mentioned (sandwich bags, brown paper lunch bags, water bottles, plastic bags at grocery stores, etc) and i think i have tried to translate that into other areas of my life as well with the amount of thrifting i do. i've definitely gotten away from thrifting and have relied on the ease of online shopping so i hope to get back into it soon as the primary way i shop. i loved this post, kate, and the great thinking you prompted. and yay for finding an awesome sweater at a second hand store - you look great in yellow!

  10. Thank you so much for writing this post, Kate! I really enjoyed reading it, and I have to say, it really resonates with me in a lot of ways. I really try to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as I can (and we do a lot of the things you do too - recycling bottles and cans, using canvas bags at the grocery store, packing my lunch in plastic or glass containers, using a reusable water bottle instead of buying plastic water bottles). And then there's the clothing issue...

    I really typically enjoy thrifting when I can because I like that I'm recycling in a way (not to mention saving money!)...but I'm not always great at making thrifting a priority when it comes to buying clothing. A big part of the reason I decided to stop shopping for a year was to try and reduce my clothing consumption, and I'm really proud of myself for making it over 75% of the year with buying hardly anything. It's taught me a lot of about my shopping habits and what kind of person I want to be.

    I'm so glad you found this sweater, by the way. It looks amazing on you!

  11. There are trips which can help you enjoy to the core. You need to have a great package like for that. Make sure you make the most it when you visit the place. All you need to do look for the place which has it all.


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