How you can score new things without buying

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We know that overconsumption is a problem and that we need to find a more circular approach in fashion, as well as buying less in general. So to follow up my latest post about shopping bans I wanted to share some more ideas on how you can get more variety in your closet without buying anything new.

5 ways to renew your closet without consumption

Swapping

Swapping parties have become a huge thing lately, and it’s because they are a great way of both getting rid of things you don’t like anymore or wear enough, while also scoring some new finds. It’s usually free or at a small fee to attend a swap party. If there are none in your area, why not try organizing your own one? Maybe bring together some friends for a swap date or organize one in your office after work.

Borrowing

Another great option to inject a bit of variety into one’s closet without consumption is to borrow clothes. Borrow from friends, parents, siblings, a partner or whatever makes sense to you. For special occasions like weddings and parties, it’s a great idea to look around with your friends to see if anyone has formal wear you could borrow. Borrowing in your friend group can allow you to attend every party with a new dress without straining the environment or your finances. Borrowing is not only for formal though. I do it for everyday things too. Borrowing a cardigan from my mom when I feel cold, or a shirt from a boyfriend to get that perfect oversize fit.

Refashioning

This one requires a certain amount of craft skills, but don’t be put off, you don’t have to be a tailor to refashion or upcycle garments. One simple thing one can do with an item is to dye it in another color. Maybe you can update your old jeans by cropping them or adding some simple embroidery? Take the sleeves off a t-shirt to make a sleeveless top or crop it to make a crop top? If you are good with sewing the sky is the limit! Dresses can be shortened, made into a shirt, made into a top or redesigned completely into a new garment.

Renting & subscribing

Obviously, this option still costs money. However, it is a way of consuming that means less strain on the planet (sharing is caring) and it can help you avoid expensive purchases you only use once. If you have a thing for trends, subscriptions are a great way of exploring trends without having to expand your closet.

Use (all of) what you own

Most of the time we own a lot of clothes that we barely know exist. It is said that we wear 20 percent of the clothes we own for 80 percent of the time. Just by doing a dig through your piles of clothing you can find an old favorite that you forgot about. It’s like finding money in your pocket you didn’t know you put there!

Start getting creative with what you own. Try using and combining items in a way you never did before, dress up casual items, dress down fancier ones, and add an accessory to elevate a look. With just a few clothing items you can come a long way when combining wisely!

Why and How You Should Do a Shopping Ban

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A shopping ban is exactly what it sounds like, a ban from shopping. But the exact rules for a shopping ban tends to differ depending on who you ask. Most people, however, would include any shopping in the form of clothes and apparel, as well as shoes and accessories. Many would also add any items for the home or tech appliances.

So why should you try a shopping ban, and how do you do it?

Why should you do a shopping ban?

There are many reasons for doing a shopping ban, but I would ultimately say that they all include something. And that is sustainability. Ther reasons might be:

Financial sustainability

It’s quite common for people that are in debt or are facing tough financial times to cut their shopping for a shorter or longer period. It allows them to cut their unnecessary spendings from shopping to better their financial status.

Environmental sustainability

More and more people are getting aware of the fact that overconsumption is killing the planet and the people. Buying less stuff will have a positive impact on one’s personal impact on the world. It will mean fewer resources used to produce products for you, as well as fewer things to have to recycle, reuse, repurpose.

Mental sustainability

There is a reason why Marie Kondo and minimalism have become a big trend. Living with less can give you more time for the things that really matter. If you are a shopaholic and only find joy in buying new things all the time a shopping ban can be a great way to kick the bad habit.

No matter why you want to buy less a shopping ban is a great way to detox your shopping habits.

How to do it?

Set clear rules

The first thing to do is to set rules that work for your situation. If you have kids it might be hard to ban all type of shopping you do, but you could decide that purchases for the children are okay, but not for you. Some people think that gifts are okay to buy, as they are not for yourself. Some people include almost all purchases in a ban, even experiences such as travels, concerts and restaurant visits.

If you have any purchases you know will be needed during the time of the shopping ban, it’s a good idea to write out a list of needed items that are exempt from the ban. You might need to buy a bridesmaid’s dress for your best friends wedding, your running shoes are starting to break, or your computer is really old and you do not know if it will survive the time. The rules are for you to have a better experience and to hold yourself accountable.

Be realistic

This one is probably the most important one. You need to be realistic with both the rules of the shopping ban and during the actual process. What works for others might not be for you. I know people who have done modified shopping bans where they are not allowed to buy anything new, but they can buy second hand.

Also, don’t be a Scrooge for things like your health and wellbeing and don’t feel bad if unexpected expenses come up. You might get a bad toothache that will result in expensive appointments. There is nothing you can do about this (except maybe keeping a buffer for unexpected events), so just deal with it and move on. You simply need to give room to life happening, e.g. it’s okay to replace something you really need that breaks, it will not make you a bad person. The ban is a detox, it is meant to change your habits, not get rid of them all together!

Remove & avoid the temptation

Just like when you’re on a diet (not that I really do diets, because they kinda suck) it’s a good idea to remove and avoid all temptation. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

A great first step in removing temptation is to unsubscribe from all sources that usually triggers your shopping behavior. This can mean unsubscribing from e-mails or send-outs from companies, as well as muting or unsubscribing from brands or influencers on social media. Avoiding temptation can mean that you avoid going into stores all together or at least the ones where you usually shop. It can mean that you avoid going to the mall since it might trigger you. Sometimes it might even involve avoiding certain people that seem to trigger your behavior…

Change your habits

Changing your habits and exchanging them for new (healthier) ones is key to remaining the behavior after the ban is over. Otherwise, you risk returning to bad habits once the ban is off. It doesn’t really matter what you fill your time with, you could swap scrolling through online shopping sites for reading a book, or knitting, or whatever that makes you feel good. But try to swap it for something positive. Sometimes we do not understand how much time we actually spend consuming or looking to consume, but if you use that time wisely, you can come a long way!

Remember it’s not forever

Maybe this seems a little bit contradictive to the last point. Obviously, the intention of the ban is to challenge one’s perceptions and habits. Still, remembering that it’s not forever can help deal with it. Hopefully, when later comes and the ban is over, you won’t have the same urge to buy anymore, and you will have a more conscious relationship to shopping.

Find your creativity

When you are not allowed to follow in your old habits of buying new every time you feel uninspired or bored it is vital to get more creative with what you have. If interior decor is your thing, you could get creative by using items from nature, upcycling things (maybe making a nice candle holder from a glass jar?), or simply rearrange the furniture a bit. If clothing is your biggest vice you could try borrowing from friends, refashion things you already own or try find a way to use something in the not intended way (like a dress as a skirt/top…). I have also found help in using the Cladwell app. It can give you suggestions on how to combine the items you have in ways you didn’t think of before.

Are you up for a shopping ban?

April challenge – shopping ban

Shopping mallIf you didn’t know, during April it’s Fashion Revolution Week. It was created as a reminder of Rana Plaza, the clothing factory in Bangladesh that collapsed on April 24th in 2013 killing 1134 people, and tries to raise the question of fair and ethical conditions within the fashion industry. As a way of honoring this week and the horrible conditions many (most) garment workers face today, I decided to make my April challenge a shopping ban.

So why did I decide to do a shopping ban? Well, mostly because over-consumption is one of the biggest problems in fashion today! In the last decades, the consumption of clothing has drastically increased, while the prices and thus salaries for those making the clothes have gone down. One of the best ways of decreasing one’s own impact through fashion is to buy less, so that’s what I’m doing! One month is a pretty short time, but sometimes it’s harder than you think because our entire society is built around shopping and consumption. We are constantly told to renew ourselves, our closets and our homes and this pressure can make even the most conscious person go crazy. For me, one month is a start and probably, I will challenge myself to a longer period soon.

So what does this small shopping ban entail? Well, it means no buying clothes, shoes, accessories, home decor, books or anything. The only thing I am allowed to consume is necessary stuff such as hygiene products, medicine, and food.

Have you ever tried a shopping ban or have you thought about doing one?

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.

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?

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.

How you can make your closet more sustainable even if you shop fast fashion

henry-co-573432-unsplashFast fashion and sustainable fashion are somewhat opposites within the fashion industry. However, a lot of people feel they cannot afford buying sustainable fashion or that the style of these brands don’t fit them. So how can you shop sustainable when you shop at fast fashion high street brands?

Well, it all comes down to how much you shop and of what quality. The absolute best thing is to refuse fast fashion all together, with the second best being reduce.

If you love a fast fashion store and you feel you cannot live without it, you don’t have to have to give it up completely. There are ways to minimize your impact that do not include changing your entire closet or only buying ethical brands.

How to have a conscious closet

Buy less

The first thing to do is to refuse and reduce. That means buying less in general and try to avoid things that are just trendy items that will be used once. The goal should be to build a long lasting closet that represents your personal style. If possible, try to see if you can find the item second hand first. There are so many people who wear something for a week and then sell it online or hand it in to a consignment store. So that should always be a first option.

Use what you have

I believe the best way of avoiding unnecessary consumption is to shop your own closet. Most people have a full closet, while still feeling like they have nothing to wear. Take some time to look around to see what you really own, you might find some forgotten favorites that could need some new love. A great way of rediscovering ones closet is to do a challenge, maybe a 10×10 or a capsule closet where you are forced to be more creative with what you already own?

Take care of what you own

By taking care of what you own it will last longer. Make an effort to follow the washing instructions, to not wash or dry more than necessary and to mend things that break instead of discarding. When you take care of what you own, the need for constantly buying new is not as noticeable since you have a full closet of nice looking clothes.

Sell or give away the things you no longer want or use

If you really feel that an item is not for you, then get rid of it. We should not have things that make us feel bad or doesn’t serve a real purpose. When you actually decide to get rid of something, sell it or give away to someone you know would like it. There are issues with donating and recycling clothing so I would try to avoid that if I do not know exactly where the clothes will end up. There are several great ways you can sell clothes online today, everything from eBay to depop, Facebook or the old regular flea market.

Repurpose that which is no longer wearable

If you have a dress of which you no longer like the top, maybe you can turn it into a skirt? A pair of jeans can be cropped off for a new trendy fringed crop length or simply turned into a pari of shorts or a skirt. If all else fails, make something completely new out of it. An old bed sheet can be turned into several small handkerchiefs (perfect for cold season!) and an old towel can be turned into reusable face pads. There are several ways of using old fabric for new things.

Have you made the move to shop sustainably? Or do you still have a love affair with H&M?