The O.A. Guide to Minimalism + Sustainable Shopping
fashion is a huge part of our identity as human beings.
it's a way that we could creatively express ourselves - for better or for worse. but, in our world today we've taken that creative freedom to an unprecedented level, making clothing a commodity. think about it: how many times have you bought an outfit for one night and never worn it again?
that purchasing trend is all too common. and it doesn't help that the fashion industry is the second largest pollutant in the world - following only after oil (yes, seriously). it's about time that we all begin thinking a bit more about the way that we consume clothing - for the sake of our world and our fellow humans.
this guide contains a few easy steps to living a more sustainable and minimalist lifestyle, especially when it comes to your fashion choices. no matter where you are on the shopping spectrum, these mindset shifts are simple and effective if you want to make a change in how you consume clothing.
and just remember - baby steps.
tips to living minimally + shopping sustainably
no matter if you're a zero waste advocate or a lover of those last minute forever 21 dresses - it's always important to take a step back and give your closet a rundown.
clothing is typically difficult to part with because it's associated with memories (maybe that shirt from the bar will be easier to part with than others). but, no matter if your shirt is a memento of a high school boyfriend, or an amazing trip - get real. how often do you wear it?
the first step is taking inventory. all you need to do here (no pressure!) is analyze what you've got. it's helpful to keep a notebook of what you actually wear - versus what you think you do. ask yourself: which pieces do i gravitate towards the most? which outfits never see the light of day?
just begin by noticing how often you wear certain items and which ones you never wear at all.
purge is the word
the big purge is one of the most satisfying and stressful things you could do. as you know - clothing isn't just a material item. it usually has a deeper meaning in our life, so it's hard to get rid of it (even if you never wear it!).
set aside two to three hours on a day when you're feeling fresh. grab that notebook with your observations, and get started!
it helps the purge if you separate your items into three piles: definitely need, nice to have, could do without. this helps the process move more quickly; you can make final decisions later.
katina's tip: sometimes it's okay to sit with things for a couple of days. maybe your "nice to have" pile sits on your floor for a day or two while you make final decisions. that's okay! just make sure to give yourself a time limit beforehand so it doesn't end up collecting dust.
sharing is caring
thankfully, there are lots of ways that you could recycle your clothing without just stuffing it in a donation box. here are some of my favorites:
- host a clothing swap party: i used to do this in high school, and didn't realize how forward thinking it was! invite a couple of friends over, open up a bottle of wine and tell them to bring their giveaway clothes. one lady's trash is another lady's treasure!
- donate it to a reputable source: often, donating clothes rarely ends up in the right hands and often leads to more trash. so, find a local shelter or nonprofit that you know is doing good work, and give your clothing there. otherwise you can request a donation bag via thredUp.
- sell it: looking for some extra cash? poshmark (online only), buffalo exchange (irl only), threadUp (both) or your local thrift store is the perfect way to earn back some of your $$ - especially when the tags are still on!
ask yourself: is this a need or a want?
so now you've created a wonderful foundation for living a minimalist lifestyle. but, what happens when the inevitable happens - you want to purchase something?
well, know that first that's okay - and it will definitely happen. we live in a world that constantly bombards us with advertising and products. there's no doubt that you'll feel the need to purchase something pronto.
when that feeling arises - really (really) ask yourself: do i need this...or do i just want it? be honest; wanting something isn't a bad thing (if we didn't want things would we be living?!). this question is more to parse out if it is a craving or a deep desire.
once you feel satisfied with your answer, and allow the "craving" of something to pass - make a conscious decision. it might help to ask some of the following questions: do i want this because there's a sale or it looks cool? will i actually use it more than once? is it worth my money? am i supporting an ethical cause with this purchase?
these questions are guaranteed to shift your outlook on the clothes - and really anything - that you choose to purchase.
before you shop: do your research first
if you are choosing to put your $ where your mouth is and have a more sustainable wardrobe - before making a purchase do you research. it's an added step, and extra effort but it feels better when you know where your clothes are coming from.
some of my favorite ways to do this are through websites like the good trade, and apps such as the good on you ethical shopping app. these organizations are dedicated to finding the best of the best - companies that care about fashion and the world.
you can also check out wearwell - a shopping service that does all this research for you and sends you clothes based on your style. easy peasy!
otherwise - once you get to know the materials, the ethics and the companies that are doing good (and not just saying the are) it makes finding a piece of clothing that you need or want a whole lot easier.
remember - making these changes won't happen overnight. the first step to living a more minimalist and sustainable life is noticing your current habits. don't put pressure on yourself to change your shopping habits and revamp your closet tomorrow - we've had a lifetime of being told that we need something that in fact, is quite unnecessary.
so, start small. observe your favorite wears and go from there. happy detoxing!