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.

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?

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?

 

My clothing philosophy

priscilla-du-preez-638156-unsplashThat fast fashion is not the best option for the environment or the workers has been made quite clear for a while now. However, people keep shopping like there is no tomorrow. 80 billion garments are consumed every year, each item is then worn on average 7 times before discarded. Adding to that the fact that it takes about 7000 liters of water for making one single pair of jeans, one can understand that this is an enormously resource requiring industry. So what can you do about it?

My guidelines for clothing

The perfect option would be to never buy anything and when you do to only buy ethical/sustainable and second hand. But honestly, that is not easy, so I have given me some general guidelines for how to keep a long-lasting closet, that might not always be organic or recycled, but puts focus on buying things that will be used, and for a long time. So what do I focus on when shopping?

Good materials

When it comes to the fabrics the clothing are made of, I like to stick to natural materials. These are made of renewable sources, in comparison to non-renewable man made materials such as polyester and acrylic. They are breathable and help you regulate body temperature better and, in general, I think they are more comfortable. If possible I try to choose an organic or certified option, this is especially important for cotton as it is one of the most chemical heavy productions that also require crazy amounts of water.

My favorite materials:

  • Wool – Keeps you warm. Doesn’t need much cleaning. Long lasting and durable.
  • Silk – Soft as no else. Beautiful. Light and breathable.
  • Linnen – Eco-friendly. Looks good even wrinkly. Light and breathable.
  • Lyocell – Soft. Drapes nicely. Eco-friendly.
  • Organic cotton – Soft. Durable. Easily maintained.

High quality

High quality is not only about buying good materials. It is equally about the garment being well constructed. This means that the seems, hems, buttons, the fit and other parts of the actual construction should be well done. High quality items will last longer since they will not unravel in the seems or just break in general. Since I want to build a closet that will last a long time this is essential.

Timeless designs

Sticking to a timeless design and avoiding major trends gives a more long lasting closet. Style never goes out of fashion and good cuts are always stylish. I am not saying that you can never buy anything “trendy”, but having a closet full of trendy means you will be stuck in a hamster wheel of always needing more because you feel off. Finding a style that suits you will work in the long run. However, just because a Chanel suit is timeless doesn’t mean you should buy it, you should still be true to you.

So all in all I try to choose quality over quantity, to rather spend on fewer and more expensive pieces that are on style and will last. What rules do you follow when shopping?