High Tech Is Great, But Don’t Forget High Touch

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I took my aunt for a doctor’s appointment today at a state of the art facility*, and it was one of the worst health-care related experiences I have had, and I wasn’t even the patient, but merely an observer.

It started off even before we stepped foot into the building; it seemed like the only way to drop someone off at the front door was to use valet parking, which I am not a fan of; I’m perfectly capable of parking my own car. The valets were nice enough, but I would have preferred to have had the choice to drop my aunt at the front door, and then park my own car. That may have been an option, but it certainly wasn’t obvious if it was.

(You may be thinking – valet service at a doctor’s office? – and yes, it is crazy).

Once we got into the doctor’s office, it was by far one of the nicest medical offices I have seen in terms of the furniture and the woodwork, and also one of the largest. Off the top of my head I would estimate that there were probably 60 seats for patients to sit in while they were waiting.

Anyway, when we got to the front desk, there were three women sitting behind it, and on the counter there was a computer monitor. The monitor had a sign indicating that you used the computer to check in, which seemed like a good use of technology as opposed to signing your name on to a sheet of paper. The sign-in process took less than 30 seconds, but not once did any of the women acknowledge our presence by saying, “Welcome to *******” or “We’ll be with you in a moment.” They didn’t seem terribly busy, just talking among themselves.

We then sat down to wait, and after a couple of minutes one of the women yelled my Aunt’s last name, which seemed kind of impersonal. When my Aunt got over to the desk, the woman behind the counter never asked “How are you doing today?”, which seems like Customer Service 101, particularly for a doctor’s office.

As it turned out, we had gotten the appointment time wrong, which was totally our fault, and certainly not the fault of the doctor’s office. We showed up two hours after the scheduled appointment, and unfortunately they were not able to see her today.

My Aunt, who is almost 80, was upset about having to reschedule. She has been in quite a bit of pain for quite some time and was hoping that this appointment would either provide some relief from the pain or at least create a plan to relieve the pain.

You would think that with all of the technology that this doctor’s office apparently had, that they would be able to reschedule an appointment right then and there, but that did not happen. The woman behind the desk handed her a card and said here is the number you need to call to reschedule. Are you kidding me??

And while my Aunt was having this brief conversation, another older woman came in, having a little difficulty walking, and looking not quite sure if she was in the right place. The woman behind the desk asked if she could help her (shocking, I know). I could not hear what the older woman said, but the woman behind the counter told her she could take a seat in the waiting room, and the woman sat down at a chair right near the front desk.

The woman behind the counter then told her that the chair she was in was not the waiting room, and she pointed to another set of chairs about 15 feet away that was apparently the waiting room. If it wasn’t so insensitive, it would have been similar to the scene in Meet The Parents where Ben Stiller is told to stand behind the line and wait for his row to be called.

By this time we were on our way out, but my guess is that by the time that older woman reached her chair, she was probably going to be called back to the desk for assistance.

Needless to say, I was appalled at the lack of concern anyone working at this doctor’s office showed for the patients. Now it may be that the doctors are all top notch, but we never got a chance to find out.

Those women behind the desk were the face of the organization, and they certainly left a very poor impression on me.

And to top it all off, since we had used valet parking, now we had to wait to get our car. It would have been much faster if I could have just gotten the car myself.

When we got home, my Aunt tried to make a new appointment, but the earliest she was able to get was June 8. As a result, she decided to start trying other places, which I was more than happy to encourage. She was able to make an appointment for this coming Monday at another doctor’s office which seemed to empathize with the pain she was in and do everything they could to get her in as soon as possible.

I am sure at this point my Aunt has no desire to ever go back to the office where we were at today. Such a decision is not based on the level of care she received, but on the lack of respect and concern she was shown by the front desk personnel.

You can’t hide poor customer service behind technology and expensive furniture.

I think the fix for the doctor’s office is simple and free; train the people at the front desk to take a moment to acknowledge and empathize with everyone that walks in. They are at the doctor’s office because they’ve got a problem, and showing some concern would mean a lot.

(You may be thinking, why do you have to train people to act like that, shouldn’t that come naturally – my thoughts exactly – but apparently not).

I also learned the fix is pretty simple on our end to; check the time of your appointment the night before…

*Please note that the image above is not of the facility I was at today, but just one I found using Google. But you get the idea.

 

 

The Problem with Anonymous Social Networking

closedsecretapp4Secret, an app that allows its users to share messages anonymously within their circle of friends and with the public, announced today that it was shutting down.

And I couldn’t be happier.

While I never root for anyone or any business to fail, and I admire the effort involved in developing and marketing a business idea, Secret was just a bad idea from the start that got caught up in the social networking hype.

Secret, as well as similar apps such as Yik Yak and Whisper, and to some extent Snapchat, all fall into the category of apps that promise its users anonymity.

I’ve always questioned why you need anonymity when using social media, to me it almost seems like an oxymoron. How are you being social if you are also trying to remain anonymous?

To me it seems obvious what attracts users to such apps – the ability to say something you likely wouldn’t otherwise say since you face no repercussions. The apps are a perfect place to attack other users.

If you don’t have the courage to sign your name to a message you are about to post which could possibly offend someone, then you shouldn’t be posting such a message.

It comes down to personal responsibility. These anonymous apps allow people to avoid taking personal responsibility for their actions, and I don’t think that is the type of behavior we should encourage.

I’ve always been a fan of using real names on the Internet; if you write something and you don’t want to sign your real name to it, then I think you should probably think twice before posting such a message.

So goodbye Secret; I hope it starts a trend of shutting down similar apps.

Perhaps we can look back on 2015 as the year we came to our senses, and realized that it’s better to be kind and transparent than mean and secretive.

If you would like to read more about these anonymous apps, here are a couple of links:

Few Winners In Anonymous Social Networking, And Secret’s Not One Of Them

Investors Debate The Ethics Of Anonymity Apps

The Day That Changed My Life

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Date: April 28, 1978.
Place: a college party at Lake Valhalla, East Stroudsburg, PA

It started off like many other Friday nights in college, heading out to a party with friends. Who would have known that by the end of the evening, my life would be changed forever, for the better.

Somehow during the course of the evening I found myself talking with the most beautiful girl at the party, something that didn’t usually happen to a guy like me. Well to be more precise, that never happened to a guy like me.

For whatever reason we connected, one thing led to another, and three years later we were married.

I’ve already written about how my wife and I met, so I won’t repeat the story here, except to say that 37 years ago today is when that love story started, and it’s still going strong today.

Happy (day of meeting each other) Anniversary Mary!

 

Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver

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This is the sixth in a collection of newspaper ads from United Technologies that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. The link to the original ad is at the end of this post.

The basic message behind this ad from United Technologies is to deliver what you promise. A simple idea, but often poorly executed, as the examples in the ad show.

I must admit I’ve been guilty of this many times, particularly the one about “I’ll be home by 5:00”, and it turns out that I get home closer to 6:00, or even later.

I also tell my students that I will answer their emails within 24 hours, but occasionally an email or two will slip past me. I’ll read a student’s email, tell myself that I’ll answer it later, and then 100 emails later that student’s email is now  buried in my list of emails and I forget to answer it.

I think I’ve gotten better at over-promising and then under-delivering, but I know that there is definite room for improvement.

I do not believe the solution is to under-promise and then over-deliver; that isn’t really setting a very high standard of performance for myself, and to me such an approach seems deceptive. I could promise to be home by 10:00, and if I’m home by 7:00, then I may think I have just over-delivered. However, such an approach may leave the impression that I’m not very good at time management. In addition, other people are relying on that original estimate of 10:00, and arriving home by 7:00 could throw that person off his or her schedule.

Another example of the danger of under-promising so that you can over-deliver may help as well. Assume that a customer has approached with some possible work, and you promise that customer that you can deliver the order by Friday of the following week, knowing that you will likely have it delivered by Tuesday or Wednesday of that week. It’s certainly possible that when the customer hears the estimated delivery date of Friday, he may look for another vendor. As a result, you never get the chance to over-deliver.

I think the key is to first come up with the most reasonable estimate for what you are about to promise (neither overly optimistic or overly pessimistic), and then follow through on that promise.

After all, we’re only as good as our word, and if people end up not trusting our promises, what can they trust?

Here is the 1980 United Technologies ad that inspired this post.

Global Report Cards on Happiness and Social Progress – How is the U.S. Doing Versus the Nordic Countries?

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I believe that one of our main goals in life is happiness, or at least the pursuit of happiness. In addition, I believe another critical goal is to make society a better place for everyone.

In the past couple of weeks, two organizations have come out with their rankings of the world’s countries, using two different approaches, one focused on happiness and the other on social progress.

It is interesting to compare the results of the United States on these rankings to the Nordic countries of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark.

The first report, referred to as the World Happiness Report, is published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), an initiative of the United Nations, and contains analysis from leading experts in the fields of economics, neuroscience, national statistics, and describes how measurements of subjective well-being can be used effectively to assess national progress.

According to Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, Columbia University, “The aspiration of society is the flourishing of its members. This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being. It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”

The results are based on a survey conducted by Gallup that asks the following question:

“Imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand?”

The average score was 5.1 (out of 10). Six key variables explained three-quarters of the variation in annual national average scores over time and among countries: real GDP per capita, healthy life expectancy, having someone to count on, perceived freedom to make life choices, freedom from corruption, and generosity.

The report found little difference in happiness by gender. On a global average basis, women’s life evaluations are slightly higher than those for men, by about 0.09 on the 10-point scale.

The report does indicate that there were significant differences by age. On a global basis, average life evaluations start high among the youngest respondents, and fall by almost 0.6 point by middle age, being fairly flat thereafter.

The report also highlights four supports for well-being and their underlying neural bases: 1. Sustained positive emotion; 2. Recovery of negative emotion; 3. Empathy, altruism and pro-social behavior; and 8 4. Mind-wandering, mindfulness and “affective stickiness” or emotion-captured attention.

The report provides answers to the question as to which aspects of child development (academic, behavioral, or emotional) are most important in determining whether a person becomes a happy, well-functioning adult. The answer is that emotional development is the best of the three predictors and academic achievement the worst.

Finally, the report looks at the pro-social behavior of members of the society, which entails individuals making decisions for the common good that may conflict with short-run egoistic incentives. The conclusion is that societies with a high level of social capital – meaning generalized trust, good governance, and mutual support by individuals within the society – are conducive to pro-social behavior.

If you would like to read a summary of the report, here is the link. To read the full report, here is the link. Suffice to say that there is a wealth of intriguing data and conclusions in the report, as well as many implications for social policy. If you would like to see a graphic of the top 20 and bottom 20 countries, click here. On the list, you will see that the U.S. is ranked No. 15.

The second world ranking that was released earlier this month is the Social Progress Index. This index uses 52 indicators to measure multiple dimensions of social progress.

Here is a list of the three dimensions, as well as the main categories measured within each dimension.

  • Basic Human Needs
    • Nutrition and Basic Medical Care
    • Water and Sanitation
    • Shelter
    • Personal Safety
  • Foundations of Wellbeing
    • Access to Basic Knowledge
    • Access to Information and Communications
    • Health and Wellness
    • Ecosystem Sustainability
  • Opportunity
    • Personal Rights
    • Personal Freedom and Choice
    • Tolerance and Inclusion
    • Access to Advanced Education

According to Michael Porter, even though the U.S. ranks sixth among covered countries in terms of GDP per capita, we only achieve 16th place in social progress. In addition, on health and wellness, the United States ranks 68th in the world, a position even more striking when you consider that we spend far more on health care per capita than any other country. Despite some improvement over the past two decades, we still rank only 30th in terms of personal safety. Even after a significant education reform movement, we rank 45th in access to basic knowledge. In ecosystem sustainability, despite much lip service, we rank 74th. America continues to be strong in the crucial area of providing rights, freedom, and opportunity for our citizens. But even here the latest data are not where we want them to be.

Here are the complete rankings

When comparing the two rankings, I find it amazing that the top 10 countries are the same in each list, although in different order. Five of the countries, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, and Denmark, as noted earlier, make up what are known as the Nordic States.

According to Wikipedia, in 2013, The Economist described these countries as “stout free-traders who resist the temptation to intervene even to protect iconic companies” while also looking for ways to temper capitalism’s harsher effects, and declared that the Nordic countries “are probably the best-governed in the world.” The Nordic combination of extensive public provision of welfare and a culture of individualism has been described by Lars Trägårdh, of Ersta Sköndal University College, as “statist individualism.” Some economists have referred to the Nordic economic model as a form of “cuddly” capitalism, with low levels of inequality, generous welfare states and reduced concentration of top incomes, and contrast it with the more “cut-throat” capitalism of the United States, which has high levels of inequality and a larger concentration of top incomes.

So while the Nordic countries sound like great places to live and raise a family, and multiple sources of data support such a claim, I have no desire to live there for one simple reason – it’s too cold.

Now if Florida were to adopt a Nordic mentality of government, then there’s no doubt as to where I would retire, since I would have the best of two worlds. But even if that doesn’t happen, the odds of retiring to Florida versus Finland are pretty high, because at least for me, warm temperatures trump cuddly capitalism.

‘The Wind’ by Cat Stevens, Then and Now

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I’ve been a fan of Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam’s for over 40 years. I admired him as much for his music as for his commitment to peace and other social causes. (He also had some of the best album covers.)

As we enter another graduation season, fond memories of singing “On the Road to Find Out” at my high school graduation (40 yeas ago!) come back to me. The sound of 250 young men’s voices singing a song that perfectly matched that time in our lives will be etched in my memory forever. To me,it is the perfect graduation song.

Another one of my favorite Cat Stevens’ songs is “The Wind”, and thanks to the magic that is YouTube, I came across a live version of him singing The Wind in 1976, and one of him singing it in 2010.

All I can say is that the song, and Cat Stevens, have aged well. In both versions, his passion and love for what he does comes through loud and clear.

But if I had to pick which version I liked better, I’d have to go with his most recent one.

The fact that he is over 30 years older seems to lend some additional authority to his words. He also appears to be singing in a less hurried manner, exuding a sense of inner calm.

There are some weeks where I will play his 2010 version several times during the week, since it seems to bring me a sense of peace as well.

So thank you Cat Stevens for sharing your heart, and your art, with the world.

And thank you Google for YouTube; for every silly cat video that’s out there, it’s nice to know that there are gems like this.

And speaking of a sense of peace, here’s a great version of Peace Train from Cat’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Enjoy!

Love and Marriage, Horse and Carriage, Blogging and Snacking

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TMI alert…

I’ve gained about eight pounds since I started blogging on January 1. And unfortunately it’s not eight pounds of muscle, the extra weight has settled all around my waist.

Now there’s probably a few things that could help account for the weight gain.

My exercise routine got thrown for a loop a few months ago with both knee and shoulder injuries. The injuries essentially stopped me from doing anything that involved either my upper or lower body, not leaving me with many options. Losing the ability to burn off a few hundred calories a day through exercise has certainly played a role in my weight gain.

My schedule has also been a little bit busier than usual, partly because of the extra time required for daily blogging, and so I ended up not putting much thought into many of my meal choices, just eating whatever was most convenient, which usually wasn’t the healthiest choice.

But I think by far the biggest reason for the weight gain is my blogging.

I’ve gotten into the habit of doing my blog at night (a habit I would like to change), and the first 30-60 minutes of the blogging process are spent staring at my computer trying to think of something to write. During that time, I keep standing up, walking over to the kitchen cabinets and grabbing something to eat. It could be a pretzel, a handful of nuts, or a few chips. I then sit back down, think for a few more moments, and then it’s back to the cabinets. I repeat this process several times before inspiration strikes.

Unfortunately, that’s not the end of my snacking. Once I start writing, I set little goals for myself, like writing 100 words. Once I reach 100 words, I reward myself with, you guessed it, more pretzels, chips, nuts, often all at the same time.

By the time I’ve finished my blog, many nights I’ve calculated that I’ve eaten close to 1,000 calories of pure junk food!

My discipline, usually something I consider a strength, is no match for the creative process. I even say to myself as I’m walking over to the cabinets to get more food that I’ve got to stop doing this, but I can’t.

There just seems to be something about trying to create something from scratch that requires some type of distraction, and for me, that seems to be food. Blogging and snacking seem to go hand in hand. I’m glad I don’t smoke or drink, because I’m sure I would find those to be useful distractions as well. I can’t imagine how many cigarettes and/or beers I would go through while trying to write a blog.

I’m hoping that writing this down and sharing it with the world (well, more like 8 people) will help me get the snacking under control. I am happy to report I have managed not to eat any snacks so far while putting this post together. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I’ll make it to the end.

I’ve already thought of one solution. Two summers ago I got addicted to frozen grapes, and would snack on them constantly. I’m thinking of going to Whole Foods tomorrow and buying some grapes and freezing them. Then when it’s time to start blogging I’ll reach for the grapes, and not the salty snacks.

I’ve also started to get a little bit back into my exercise routine, which at least has helped to stop the weight gain and now I’m just holding steady. But holding steady is not good enough, I’ve got to get rid of this excess weight. My health and fitness is something I have always prided myself on, so it’s disappointing to me personally that I allowed this to happen to myself. I’m looking forward to slowly ramping up my workouts.

I’ve also thought about going on a 48-hour water fast to kick start the weight loss, but then I’d be worried I wouldn’t have the energy to get my blogging done later at night.

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Sorry, I had to step away for a moment to get something to drink. Of course, water wouldn’t do the trick, I had to get some lemonade. But at least I avoided the kitchen cabinets.

Anyway, I’ll give periodic updates on my progress towards losing eight pounds. My goal is May 11. That’s half a pound a day, which seems quite reasonable.

I’m starting to get some cravings, so I better end this post now and head on up to bed before I succumb to those cravings. I think dreaming of snack food is probably much better for me than actually eating it.

Staying in Touch

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Over the past week I had the pleasure of reconnecting with three of my former students, all of whom coincidentally graduated in 2005. Two of the students had agreed to be a guest speaker in my classes, and I met the third for dinner.

Katie, who currently works for a Fortune 50 firm, spoke last week about how her firm uses the Strengths Finder assessment tool. My students took the assessment before the class (which the firm was kind enough to pay for), and she incorporated the results into her presentation. The students were fascinated with the what the assessment revealed as their strengths and how such results could be effectively be used in the workplace.

Matt, a senior manager at one of the Big 4 public accounting firms, spoke to my class yesterday. Matt spoke about the new performance evaluation tool that his firm began using this year, and offered some great words of advice about what it takes to succeed at not only a Big 4 firm, but in any career. Since many of our students join a Big 4 right after graduation, the topic was of great interest to all of them.

Katie and Matt were sitting in the same seats as my students just 10 years ago, and are now great role models for the current group of students. I think students enjoy having speakers who are in a job that they may possibly aspire to some day, and find it easier to relate to someone who is closer to their age.

In between Katie and Matt’s presentations, I had a three-hour dinner with Justin, who is currently the VP of Operations for a family-owned design and manufacturing company. We have many of the same interests – health, fitness, sports, reading (e.g., James Altucher), and Apple devices, to name a few. As a result of our mutual interests, there was never a lull in the conversation and the time flew by. Justin also gave me several book recommendations that I look forward to reading this summer.

It’s hard to describe the sense of happiness I felt after seeing Katie, Justin, and Matt this past week. It was wonderful to see young people who have made the transition from college to career successfully, and just as wonderful to watch them grow personally. Knowing that there are such young people out there who care about their careers, their families, and have a strong sense of social responsibility gives me great confidence for the future of our world.

It made me want to reach out even more to former students, all of whom I am sure have great stories to share with me and with my students. It looks like I’ll be spending some time with LinkedIn over the next few weeks. If any former students are reading this, please feel free to drop me an email at james.borden@villanova.edu; I’d love to hear from you.

And finally, a big thank you to Katie, Justin, and Matt. I am proud to see all that you have accomplished, and proud to call each of you a friend. I wish all of you continued success.

 

 

Who Should Set Your Standards?

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Once again, Seth Godin’s daily post has forced me to think more clearly about the way I view certain issues.

Today’s post by Seth was about parents not setting high enough standards for their children, or bosses not setting high enough standards for their employees. The result is (potentially) out of control children or employees producing mediocre work.

While there may be some similarities between setting standards for children and setting standards for employees, I think there are enough differences that the two can’t really be lumped together. How you set standards for someone who has not yet reached the age of reason is quite different than how you set standards for someone that is gainfully employed.

For this discussion, I just want to focus on the issue of setting standards for employees.

Seth states in his post, “… the sooner you find a boss who pushes you right to the edge of your ability to be excellent, the better.”

While there is no denying that some managers may be capable of motivating some of their employees to higher levels of performance, I think the most important part of the equation is not what the manager is doing to motivate you, but what the employee is doing to motivate himself.

Seth even notes this at the end when he references a blog post he wrote over four years ago. That post indicated that perhaps the most essential thing for an employee (or freelancer or entrepreneur) to learn was about the importance of managing yourself.

I had a guest speaker in my class today, a former student who is a senior manager at one of the Big 4 public accounting firms. His presentation was on performance evaluation, and his parting words of advice to my students was to “Own Your Career”, to take personal responsibility for your success and not rely on someone else to manage your career.

I couldn’t agree more with my former student, or with Seth’s post from four years ago, which is why I really can’t agree with the basic message of today’s post by Seth.

To paraphrase JFK, employees should not be asking what their manager can do for them, but what they can do for themselves.

If you are producing mediocre work, I don’t think it’s right to blame the manager because he or she did not set the standards high enough. If you did mediocre work, it’s because you didn’t set the bar high enough for yourself. How about taking some personal responsibility and personal pride in wanting to do outstanding work not because your boss is demanding it, but because that is the standard you set for yourself?

Standards are often used as a way to evaluate an employee’s performance at the end of the year, so that employees can then be rated and ranked.

However, there seems to be a movement by some companies to stop using ratings and rankings when they evaluate employees. In today’s Wall Street Journal, John Ritchie, a Microsoft human-resources executive who goes by “J,” said the technology company’s practice of rating and ranking employees discouraged risk-taking and collaboration; since discontinuing the practice in late 2013, teamwork is up, he said.

I had mentioned a similar idea in a previous post where I talked about how at IBM the managers set standards for the sales employees so that the majority of them would achieve the goal. Such an approach does not seem to be in line with Seth’s notion of finding a manager that pushes you to the edge of your ability. Otherwise, 70-80% of the employees would not likely be hitting the standard, as they did at IBM.

To me, it seems to come down to intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, and on this, the research seems to be fairly consistent. That if you want to get the highest performance out of your employees, you need to create an environment where employees are given the freedom to do work that matters. Such an environment creates an employee who is self-motivated, and doesn’t need a manager to set standards of performance; in such an environment the employee’s standards for himself would likely be higher anyway.

And to be clear, I am not promoting the setting of low standards. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. I certainly favor setting high standards, it’s just that I should be the one setting such standards for myself, and not relying on someone else to do so.

Now as far as setting standards for children, I vaguely recall that candy always seemed to be the most effective way to get our kids to behave the way we wanted. :)

Fast Fashion and Disposable Clothing

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I read an interesting article today that taught me a few new things about the clothing industry. Admittedly, there is very little I know about the clothing industry, but I did find the content of the article quite interesting.

The first thing I learned is the term “fast fashion”, which I had never heard of. According to Wikipedia, fast fashion refers to trends that are designed and manufactured quickly and cheaply to allow the mainstream consumer to buy current clothing styles at a lower price.This philosophy of quick manufacturing at an affordable price is used in large retailers such as H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo. I’ve been to H&M and Uniqlo, since my children like to shop there, I just never knew that there was a term that referred to the type of fashion that was available at such stores. I have not heard of Zara.

The article I read looked at the environmental and social impact of the fast fashion industry. As part of the discussion, the authors claim that the fast fashion industry has encouraged consumers to view such clothing as low-cost, disposable items that can be purchased casually and discarded frequently.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average person in the U.S. discards 90 pounds of textiles per year. Of this amount, Americans only donate or recycle about 15% of their used clothing, the rest ends up in a landfill. Thus, it is argued that the fast fashion industry is contributing to our ever-growing landfills.

However, there seems to be some movement by these retailers to be more environmentally friendly, to move towards what some are calling “slow fashion”. For example, H&M has a “Conscious Collection,” a line of organic cotton fashions designed to appeal to the conscientious customer.

In addition, many retailers are providing recycling bins in their stores to encourage consumers to be more pro-active with how they dispose of clothing.

But perhaps the most shocking statistic I read was that the average American buys 68 pieces of clothing per year, accounting for 3% of his or her annual income! If that’s true, that means that there is someone out there buying 134 pieces of clothing per year to average out with the two pieces of clothing per year that I might buy.

So apparently there’s more than just a monetary advantage to being a cheapskate and a fashion laggard when it comes to clothing, I’m doing something good for the environment as well.

And now I’ve armed myself with some cold, hard facts that I can answer my wife with when she says that I need some new clothing…