*Gulp* When you realise just how wrong you’ve been

My family often accuse me of being too wishy-washy about opinions. They’ll be up in arms about an issue, arguing whether it’s RIGHT or WRONG, then get frustrated with me as I quietly point out that I’m no expert on the topic and that I’d have to do further research before I could form an opinion.

The way I see it is we’re all pretty complex and while it’s easy to label someone a bitch/hero/dickhead in a given moment, it doesn’t mean that we are 100 percent a bitch/hero/dickhead in everything we do. (Thank god for that, or I’d be known as a total psychopath by anyone who caught me in the throes of PMS.)

My family are left eye-rolling and sighing about how difficult it is to have a conversation with someone on the fence all the time. But if I’ve learnt one thing in my almost-31 years on this planet, it’s that I don’t know much at all. I cringe at many of the opinions I bandied about in my earlier years, and I now realise that it’s a long path to worldliness and there’s a good chance that if I’m not careful, I’ll have to suck up ill-informed opinions down the track.

Just this week, I’ve found myself questioning some of my fashion purchases over the years. I’ve spent many a mindless hour trawling chainstores for on-trend pieces and while I’ve certainly been appalled by reports of sweat shops and have tried to make ethical choices, I had never even paused to think about the environmental cost of constant consumerism.

I’ve just written a piece for news.com.au called 10 Ways to Survive Buy Nothing New Month and interviewed creator Tamara DiMattina, who has basically bought nothing new for 10 years. I’m a budgeter from way back and if someone suggested I buy nothing new for a while, I’d jump at the chance to build my bank account and fund another trip overseas. But it turns out that pausing the purchasing actually allows you to high-five the planet at the same time.

“We live on a planet with finite resources, yet we are consuming infinitely, like there is a never-ending supply,” DiMattina told me. “This is changing. The beauty of the solution is more people are discovering that the alternative to wasteful, mindless consumption, is a happier, more calm, more connected and meaningful life.”

It turns out some 30 kilograms of textile products, per person, per year go to landfill, and cotton and polyester take a particular toll on Mother Nature. “Conventional cotton alone accounts for one quarter of global pesticide use, linked to poisonings and air and groundwater contamination,” Alice Payne, a PhD candidate from the University of Queensland, wrote on The Conversation. Not to mention the fact that cotton requires about 11,000 litres of water per kilogram to produce.

Suddenly sporting the latest threads doesn’t seem so glamorous and I’m cringing for the 756th time about my past behaviours. I’m now so curious about what I’m doing now that my 41-year-old or even 81-year-old self will eye-roll about, but I guess that’s half the fun of getting old.

Who said Gen Ys were stubborn and knew everything?