As an artist raised in Argentina, Mariela has a very different perspective on repurposing, consuming, and frugality. We love this about her.
To be fair, frugality drives her lack of constant spending, and when she does purchase, most often it’s a great thrift store find or something repurposed. (And yes, she is that girlfriend that always looks unique and amazing.) I find myself constantly admiring her style.
In today’s world of “fast-fashion,” it’s encouraging to know people who understand the effects that manufacturing new clothes has on the environment. All the dyes, high water usage, unfair labor conditions, the list goes on. The entire production is one of the hardest impacts on the planet. A recent article has laid out some harsh numbers. As of just a few years ago, over 40% of young people feel pressure to wear a new outfit every time they go out.
With that mentality, our planet is overflowing with clothes that are considered “disposable.” That drives up demand, as well as a terrifyingly wasteful production line. In 2018, the retailer H&M was apparently sitting on $4.3 billion worth of unpurchased items. Another startling stat: Americans, on average, are buying a new piece of clothing every five days.
Mariela simply does not participate in this process, and largely neither do her children. She has shared with me that at times they find her habits frustrating, as most teenagers would. What they will realize as they age, though, is that she is the true environmentalist and role model for us. Her actions are helping move us toward a more sustainable place for their own children, and others all over the world.
When I am with Mariela, I realize our standards of feeling hungry, too hot, or too cold are disproportionate to the rest of the world. She’s also the person who is responsible enough to wait until it’s actually very necessary to run the air conditioner (Which by the way, is way, way past our American standards of a necessity.)
I always find so much joy in my time with her, and for so many reasons. But I also love that her habits and way of life continue to remind me how much more I can do to be part of the solution to mitigate environmental impacts.
Our campout always brings a level of reflection. We cook together, swim, play guitar, and sing. The kids are unplugged and running around, and we ask, “Why can’t it just be like this?” The short answer is that it takes work. The long answer is more involved, and I believe falls into an entirely new category for another article on cognitive dissonance or denial that I am part of the problem.
So I am going to keep asking the question, “What would it look like if we all began to quietly do the work it takes to preserve our planet? What if we could take some hints from Mariela and truly follow-through?”