The most basic, pragmatic, and primal reason to own and wear clothes – to cover nakedness – should not be disputed in serious conversation. The next reason – to protect from extreme weather – should not be disputed either.
What I want to question, and what many people have been questioning for years, is why we own so many clothes beyond this in first world countries.
The first easy target is clothes that we buy but don’t wear. This is inexcusable wastefulness. Money is wasted. Natural resources are wasted. The planet is damaged by overconsumption. Our hearts are corrupted by excess. We should never buy clothes that we won’t wear regularly. Ever.
The second target is clothes we buy and wear, but don’t like. This is ridiculous. Even if we descend into the obscene extremes of hedonism and wastefulness, we should escape this error. Why keep something that doesn’t improve our quality of life? We should give it to someone else who will benefit from it. Or at the least let it be recycled. We shouldn’t degrade ourselves by forcing ourselves to wear something we don’t like, just because we own it.
The third target is clothes we buy, wear, and like but don’t need. This is a harder blow to the social norm. Us rich people like having things we don’t need. Oh and yes, you are rich, I am rich. We have more than we need to survive, so we are rich. We are very, very rich. And the human heart doesn’t quickly part with luxury. But it must suffer this loss to become nobler. We don’t need two pieces of clothing that do the same thing. We don’t have three eyes, we just need two. We don’t have two hearts, one is good enough. Let’s learn from nature and ingrain it in our minds that “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” (Lao Tzu)
So, what does this look like?
There are many ways to go about minimizing how many clothes we own, but I have found that Project 333 is a simple and effective starting point.