2019: monthly challenges

sarah-dorweiler-357715-unsplashNew Years resolutions have never been a big thing for me. Committing to something for an entire year takes a lot of devotion and engagement, which I tend to lack. Instead, this year I will be doing monthly “challenges” to push myself to do and learn more, and in some cases just to push myself to do stuff that I have long been meaning to do but tend to forget when life comes along.

Having a monthly goal, or challenges as I choose to call it, is more sustainable since committing to 30 days of something gives a clearer horizon and you may not feel deprived in the same way since you can just “return to normal” if it’s not for you, without feeling like you failed. So just setting up reasonable goals that you can actually do. You might have heard about SMART goals. SMART goals is all about creating motivational and tangible goals that you can actually reach. SMART was first coined by George T. Duran in 1981 stands for:

S – Specific (or Significant).
M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
T – Time-bound (or Trackable).

So by giving myself a clearer horizon by limiting the time to one month, it feels more attainable. I will also only focus on things that feel relevant to me and my journey, that are very specific for each month and that I will be able to see a result from.

Monthly challenges

January: Veganuary

This is a global challenge and yearly challenge from https://veganuary.com/ to inspire people to eat more vegan. All of January I will eat (or do my best to) eat vegan. To push myself to try something new, to try new recipes, ingredients and how to eat out.

February: Meditate daily

February is a dark month with bad weather, and if you live in the north it’s probably like four months since you saw the sun. So when the SAD (seasonal affective disorder) starts knocking on the door I will spend a month meditating daily. These past few months have been stressful for me and I have felt that my defence against stress is quite low. Hopefully with daily meditation I can improve this.

March: Digital detox 

For the month of March my focus will be on minimising my use of Internet, computers, tablets and phones. My only tech appliances that will not be on the decrease list are my e-reader and my camera. How much I will “detox” is unsure right now. Since Instagram is a big inspiration and I like to read interesting articles online I would not be able to do a full on detox, but I will be avoiding it as much as I feel is viable.

April: Shopping ban

This one is quite explanatory, I will not do any shopping for the entire month. Which of course excludes food, medications and hygiene stuff (I need to survive it!!). No new clothes, no new beauty products, no interior shopping, no unnecessary stuff I can live without.

May: 30-day yoga

I will do a 30-day yoga challenge to really feel the benefits of the practice and stretch out my body. I have done yoga on and off for almost 10 years and even though I love it during and after, I never seem to get into a routine that sticks, so this month I will challenge myself to stick to it and hopefully feel better both physically and mentally.

June: Capsule challenge

For the month of June I will commit to a capsule closet. I have yet to decide the number of items to be used but somewhere between 20-30 is where I am aiming. This years mini capsule challenge felt slightly too constricting for me, so I want to give a bigger and longer capsule a shot.

July: Plastic-free July

Plastic-free July is a quite well known challenge by now, which means that for all of July, the goal is to not consume any plastics. This means no plastic single use items like take away bowls or plastic cutlery. This feels like a tough challenge for me right now, but my hope is that it will teach me more about the low impact living.

August: Reading challenge

One of my goals this year is to read more and for this I purpose I will do a book club for myself, but I will also assign one month of the year for reading even more. When I was a teenager I would read several books a week, but when I started university and had to read large amounts of course literature, I lost the appetite for reading for fun. I want to find the fun in reading again and this is what I am hoping to achieve during this month.

September: Self care September

During September I will focus on taking better care of myself and doing stuff I enjoy. Since fall tends to be very dark and gloomy where I come from it feels like the perfect start to the darker times.

October: Slow-Fashion October

For October I will be challenging myself to be more circular when it comes to my closet. I will be mending broken clothes, tailoring bad fitting ones, upcycle that which is no longer my style or simply make new items. A personal goal for the year is to get better at sewing, so this challenge caters mostly to this. By using what we have better and not wasting fabric is good for the environment and my own economy, as I will feel less a need to buy new.

November: Food challenge

For this month the challenge will be to explore new foods. New recipes, new ingredients, new cooking techniques etc. The goal is to compile 25 new recipes to try out during the month, both breakfast, snacks and dinners.

December: Creativity challenge

When I was a child I was constantly drawing, cutting and pasting. I had subscription boxes for what we in Sweden call “pyssel” which is a somewhat broad word for doing any kind of creative hand-work. During December I want to get creative again, just like when I was a child. Maybe I won’t be gluing beads on a picture frame, but more knitting pot holders, painting, colouring and maybe practice my calligraphy.

Conscious book club 2019

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One personal goal I have this year is to read more. Another is to learn more about conscious and sustainable living. Therefore I will be doing a small reading challenge, call it a book club. Every two month I will read a book related to the sustainability topic, such as consumption, fashion, plastic etc. I will evaluate the book here on the blog and discuss the topics brought up by the book.

This changes everything – Naomi Klein

A book about climate crisis and economy. In this book Naomi Klein discusses capitalism and the connection between social, environmental and economic sustainability and equality. She means that we have to change our relationship with nature and each other in order to manage this crisis and that we have to do it now.

Overdressed – Elizabeth L. Cline

The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion. This book looks into the fashion industry to unveil why clothing is cheaper than ever and who is actually paying the price for it. What do we do with all the clothes produced, as well as what all this production does to society and the environment.

Turning the tide on plastic – Lucy Siegle

With this years word being single-use this is a very current book about plastic. Facts about the plastic industry, how much plastic there actually is in the world and what it is doing to us all. How do we change our habits to avoid seeing more whales being washed ashore with several pounds of plastic inside?

Rise and resist. How to change the world – Claire Press

Clare Press runs one of my favourite podcasts around and I have been longing to get my hands on this new book of hers. In this book she meets passionate change makers that work towards a better world and explores how we can all help change the world with activism.

Cradle to cradle – Michael Braungart & William McDonough

This well known book rethinks the way we make things. Must our production really damage the world? Or are there ways of increasing the effectiveness of our production in ways that harm the planet and the people less?

Doing good better – William MacAskill

How can we make a difference in this world? By using our time to help people? Or are we more effective letting our money do the job? In this book the author tries to understand effective altruism and how we can maximise our impact with our decisions.

Interested in learning more about sustainability? Why don’t you join me in my reading?

Closet goals for 2019

celia-michon-115006-unsplashFor 2019 I have decided to put up some goals for my closet and shopping. Even though I gave up reading fashion magazines in my late teens, my shopaholic behaviours have stayed. I try to be more mindful of what I consume, but when life gets a bit though I tend to turn to shopping, a habit I am trying hard to break. So this year I am putting up some closet goals for myself.

Using what I have

For the time being I am not fully ready for a capsule or complete minimalism. I tried the 10×10 capsule challenge earlier this fall and I did not really enjoy it that much, however I might try a bigger capsule for a longer time during the year. I am planning on using as many parts of my closet as possible (I started keeping track of what I am wearing about 8 months ago) and the ones that I do not use enough, I will be selling or giving to friends.

Responsible shopping

Regarding shopping, I will be buying maximum 12 things in the year, so corresponding to 1 thing per month of the year. To some this might seem like an insane amount, while to others it’s nothing. For me this is a quite small number and I am trying to minimise my shopping over time, since going cold turkey hasn’t worked too well for me in the past. For these 12 purchases I will not be including underwear/basics, accessories or activewear/sleepwear. However, I will keep those to minimal. No going crazy just because I don’t count them.

Further, I will continue to prioritise quality, longevity, natural materials and that they are second hand or sustainably made when possible. I will do my best to avoid spontaneous shopping and instead plan my needs. I am already working on a shopping list for the coming year, since I need to save up for some of the garments. Another important thing is that I will ONLY buy stuff I love. If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no!

Questions for shopping

When shopping I will keep some questions in mind to make sure I make sensible purchases.

Does it fit my closet?

The garments should fit with my closet – I should be able to create at least 3 possible outfit combinations with things I already own. No thinking that “this would look great if I only had that”…

Will I wear it at least 30 times?

Have you heard about #30wears? It is encouraging people to wear their clothes for longer. A big portion of the fashion impact comes from the actual use of the garments and by using what we own for longer we can increase the garments impact.

Is this worth the price?

Will the future CPU (cost per use) be low enough to motivate the purchase? If you want to have a CPU of let’s say 2€ then you would have to wear a 200€ coat at least a 100 times for it to be worth the purchase. For this reason I tend to only invest in more expensive garment that I know I will be using for a longer time, like coats, bags and shoes.

Personal development

My last closet goal for 2019 is that I want to learn more about sewing and making my own clothing. In Sweden you have basic sewing classes for 3-6 years in middle school and even though I have made both my own dresses and knitted mittens and embroidered table cloths, I am not near the level I would want to be!

I come from a crafty family and both my mom and my grandma used to sew, knit and crochet everything when they were young and couldn’t afford to buy new. My hopes with this goal is that I will be able to make most of my own clothes, so that I can be in charge of materials and cut and so I can get more tailored items that will not need to be taken in or hemmed.

Do you have any closet goals for 2019? Or are you just going with the flow?

Friendly gift wrapping guide

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Wrapping gifts for christmas. Some people love it, some dread it. This is an area where you can get really creative if you want, just try to remember that most wrapping paper is not recyclable. However, there are several other ways of wrapping gifts than in regular wrapping paper.

Firstly, I would start looking around the home what is lying around that could be used. Maybe you find an old shoebox that you haven’t thrown out. With some paint or fabric that could make the perfect box for grandpa’s new sweater. Just put a bow on it and you are done! Maybe you have some old wall paper lying around from renovating the house, those would make great stand-ins for regular wrapping paper and they don’t require you buying new. With some creativity, most things can become a nice wrapping design!

If you are the really creative one with some time on your hands, I would go for designing your own wrapping paper with potatoes. By buying simple brown or white gift paper (the ones without the shiny side) you can simply design different papers for the entire family. All you need are the paper, an ink pad, a knife and some potatoes.

joanna-kosinska-480420-unsplashIf you are more of the lazy type (like me most of the time) go for reusing old newspapers. It gives a nice retro feel and you can dress it up nicely with nice bands and some decorations.

Last idea is to wrap in fabric, so called furoshiki (you can see more about furoshiki and the techniques on my Pinterest board here). It is a traditional Japanese way of wrapping gifts. You do not need to buy new for this, you could wrap it in a kitchen cloth, old sheets or whatever you have laying around.

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For all the ideas you have the option of making it more fancy by accessorizing. Some pine cones, a tree twig or some dried winter flower that are easy to find outside. It really takes a gift from regular to special looking.

 

 

 

My biggest challenges with sustainable fashion

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I am still quite new to the concept of sustainable shopping and conscious closets. Only about a year ago I started to learn more about this topic and more recently changing my own habits. Changing ones habits from being slightly shopaholic and always having new clothes to a more slow lifestyle is hard in itself. Trying to cultivate a sustainable closet comes with additional challenges. Since the world is mainly built on fast fashion and unethical business practices, finding sustainable options can be hard, time consuming and, let’s not forget, expensive compared to regular shopping.

Top challenges

So what are really the main challenges I face when trying to switch over to a more sustainable and ethical shopping habit?

Finding clothing I like

I can be quite picky with style and I tend to like a more expensive and elegant style. With sustainable fashion I feel like a lot of things are either boring and generic, as in all is made super minimalistic in black and white or that everyone is wearing the same Everlane pants, or colorful ethnic fabrics that are just not me. Honestly, I don’t really get the Everlane thing, they are a bit to everyday and plain for my taste, even if I do like some styles. Also they do not really have sustainable fabrics or processes which I would prefer. Also, I do not really feel comfortable in colors, especially when combined with crazy prints. So I tend to feel a bit lost in the middle at times. I have managed to find some brands I like, but they are few.

Finding materials I like

When I happen to stumble onto brands or garments I like, I get disappointed 95% of the time because of material mixes or poly. In my opinion you are not a sustainable brand if you mix in plastic at every chance you get. Sure, there are times when it makes sense, like in socks that would break very quickly without the add in. But in a woolen coat I really do not see the big point in adding synthetics. Synthetics are made from non renewable resources and should not be overused just because it’s cheap. They also make  it impossible to recycle. The fabric recycling techniques available today cannot handle material mixes, only 100% fabrics.

Finding things that are accessible

Taking a normal shopping trip to town or the mall is really not a feasible way of shopping ethically and sustainably. The majority of brick and mortar stores are big brand and fast fashion with bad materials, bad quality and that is way too trend sensitive. So when shopping for sustainable brands you are often dependant on online shopping. I like to shop online, but since smaller brands often do not have the opportunity to offer free shipping and returns it makes it a bit risky to order when you are not sure about sizing.

Finding things that are within budget

Let’s be honest, ethically produced or sustainably made clothing is not cheap. Quality materials are more expensive than polyester and having a fair supply chain where people are being payed fair wages means more expensive end prices. I have a quite high budget and have in the later years mostly shopped in the bridge or affordable luxury category. So it is not as much of a stretch for me to be able to afford sustainable items. However, it is still very expensive especially when looking for high quality materials like cashmere and silk that can be bought for 100€ at H&M. The sustainable ditto is more towards 500€, so the difference is still noticeable.

When it comes to sustainable fashion I have come to terms with the fact that you can’t always tick all boxes. Buying something you really like, with good quality that will last a long time, that is also sustainable and ethical is like finding a four leafed clover, doable but hard. You have to compromise a bit sometimes and go with the best option available. For me, material is one of the criteria I do not like to compromise, for others it might be the ethical production. Whatever are your boxes to be ticked just remember that perfection shouldn’t stand in the way of good.

The 5 R’s of sustainable living

When it comes to minimizing your impact on the planet, a lot of people feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. A simple way to start thinking more about ones’ behavior and how one consumes. Both in terms of food (food waste is a big problem, in Sweden 45 kg of food per person is thrown away every year), clothing, services and packaging (I’m thinking of you plastic wrap!). Some basically, one of the best ways to reduce ones impact is to think one step further and to avoid getting unnecessary stuff, and to use that which you already own.

This is where the 5 R’s come in. 5 basic guidelines for sustainable living.

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The 5 R’s

Refuse

things that do not serve you in any way, as well as things that do not serve the planet and you don’t have a need for. Refuse unnecessary materials like plastic straws, plastic cup lids, plastic bags. Also, say no to receipts if you have the opportunity.

Reduce

your consumption. It is inevitable to buy stuff, but reducing your consumption will not only help the planet, but also your personal finances.

Reuse

the things you already own. Have a dress you love, wear it! Buy a tote bag to use instead of plastic bags. Buy or make your own produce bags for food shopping.

Repurpose

things that no longer serve their purpose. Empty glass jars can be used as food containers or made into candle light holders.

Recycle

that which you cannot repurpose or reuse.

Feeling overwhelmed by trying to live sustainable/ethical/slow?

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My transition into a more sustainable living has been very organic. Step by step my eyes have been opened to a new field to be changed and improved. However, even with a slow transition I have felt, and still feel, overwhelmed at times. When I see other people who have come further in their journey I can easily feel put down by the fact that I am not doing everything.

Why you are feeling overwhelmed

You are trying to do all at once

When you get into sustainable living it might be somewhat of an epiphany, but it can become too much at one time. Going vegan, zero-waste and stopping fast fashion is not something you simply do overnight, at definitely not all at once. It requires time, knowledge and engagement and you risk losing interest if you go out too hard. Choose one field to go all in, or go with a slow reformation, if you want it to be a lasting change.

You are trying to be perfect

It is impossible to live fully ethical/sustainable/slow or whatever it is you aspire to do. You would have to die, but actually dying is quite bad too, so the only way of being fully sustainable would be to not have been born and that is not possible. So you have to try to do your best, but try not to beat yourself up if you are not perfect. No one is.

A real girl isn’t perfect and a perfect girl isn’t real

So remember that this is your life, it should be enjoyable and you should not feel bad about not being the best all the time, because honestly you probably aren’t.

You feel lost and don’t know where to start or go from here

For any big lifestyle changes it is necessary to know what and why you are doing. So before diving into something big (like spending tons of money on glass jars because you read that plastic is bad or buy out the Everlane warehouse because you heard they are ethical) do your research and form your own opinion on the topic.

What you can do to avoid feeling overwhelmed

Put it in perspective

When you feel overwhelmed by the quest, give yourself a break – you are probably doing something or at least willing to be better, so at least hold on to that! Some sustainable life changes are not possible for some people or in some life situations, but every change for the better is positive.

Simply avoiding to buy a new pair of jeans and a simple cotton t-shirt saves about 20 000 liters of water. Be happy for that and feel motivated instead of feeling put down by how much you do not do.

Go slow, step by step

Like mentioned above, you need to give yourself time to adjust to the changes. Rome wasn’t built overnight and neither was you. The habits you have today have probably been forming over years, so quitting them in one day will likely not be possible if you are looking for a long term change. For a habit to stick it has to be doable, so doable is better than perfect since you might stick to it. One step at a time, don’t move to quick.

Inform yourself, find inspiration

A solution to feeling lost in the world of sustainability is to get informed. Not only will it give you some clarity and guidance, but it will also (hopefully) inspire you. There are so many good sources of information around. On Instagram there are hundreds of other people trying to live a more green life, seek them out, get inspired. Maybe you can even reach out to them? There are also several Facebook groups where discussions about green lifestyles are encourage and where you can seek advice from others on the same journey. Use that source!

You could walk around naked, live in the forest and be self sustaining and you would still have an impact on the earth so just accept that you can only do so much and strive to make the best of it. The world would be a much better place if just everyone tried to be a bit better towards the planet.