If you missed the introduction to this post, please check out the first in the series over HERE. There I address the reasons behind my decision, bringing us to the second part in this series: the how. Today I'll cover how it worked and how I did, the latter being the main reason it's taken me this long to write about it.
This is not the first time I've created self-imposed restrictions for the sake of learning more about myself, my impact on society, and to test my beliefs against my actions. When I was a teenager I found myself uncomfortable with the fact that I hated seeing myself without makeup, so I instigated a several month no-makeup policy to let go of my dependance on it. I've given up wearing any jewelry, taken out piercings, cut all my hair off, and even went a few weeks on just $2 a day and whatever I could dumpster dive (sorry mom). Sometimes I just like to test how far I can go with what I believe and see what happens. But you can go farther than sustainable. Going into this challenge, my caution to myself was against my tendency to have an unnecessarily dogmatic, all-or-nothing, attitude. My goal was to complete a relatively short term challenge in order to identify where I turn to consumerism as a coping mechanism, to become aware of the larger impact a Western approach to "disposable wardrobes" is having, and to find ways to make sustainable long-term change.
How It Worked:
I'll get into specifics of the impact this challenge has had since completing it in my next post, but for now here are the specifics of the boundaries I set. I was not going to purchase clothing from June of 2017 to June of 2018. I could make my own clothes, since I had already accumulated a large amount of second-hand fabrics and sewing supplies. If I absolutely needed something I couldn't make I would not purchase it on the day I thought of it, but instead give it a few days to assess if it truly was a need instead of a want and then I'd discuss it with my husband, Alex, for accountability. I would not deny gifts of clothing, because that seemed overly pedantic and, frankly, rude (not to mention unlikely to be a recurring or frequent issue).
How I Did:
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, the number one reason it's taken me several months to write about the experience is directly because of how I did with the challenge. I will be completely open about the fact that I did not adhere one hundred percent. Over the course of the year I purchased one pair of jeans, one shirt, a dress, socks, and several pieces of exercise clothing. Of that list, I can say that I only truly needed the socks and the exercise clothing, but the idea of not sticking to it fully made me question the validity of the experiment and the value of sharing it. There were reasonable excuses for everything I purchased, my main pair of jeans tearing irreparably, being a part of a highly active musical where it became unrealistic to wash my rehearsal wear every single night, etc. but I still felt/feel guilty about it.
Nonetheless, when I look back at my objectives, the heart behind it and the hope of what I'd learn, it wasn't a failure. It's safe to say even with the things I did purchase, that amount is significantly smaller than I have ever purchased since I've had my own money to spend. I've grown more in the last year as a seamstress than I have in the last three combined since I first began sewing. My perspective has shifted in ways I can't willingly ignore and I can't wait to share more about the conclusion of this experience in my next post.
Until then, please feel free to ask any questions or voice any opinions below, I've loved seeing the responses to the challenge so far.