And before you know it, it is the 16th of April. Do you know what that means? The I-Buy-Nothing Challenge is over. Three months shopping the latest trends of nothing. Thanks to all who joined, even though it was at a later stage or might have made a little misstep. Thank you! Special thanks to Christine, who joined as soon as we launched the challenge and blogged about this. I would love to hear all your experiences too. For me, I think the challenge has changed me, so that’s already a win.
Unfortunately, there were some failures too. First of all, it was my birthday and I was overloaded with great gifts. I didn’t buy anything myself, but it makes not buying anything a lot easier. Secondly, it was other people’s birthdays so I went to the shops to buy (sustainable) presents. I decided not to quit this gift exchange for the sake of friendship. Yes I know, friendship is not about gifts but about caring, but that’s a whole different discussion. Thirdly, I went on two holidays in the meantime: Cuba and Marrakech, Morocco. Well that’s quite a luxurious way of spending money and moreover, my weakness is foreign goods. Marrakech was the toughest. The city is full of handcrafted and beautiful bags, shoes, woven scarves, clothes and so on. I wanted them all. But did I need it? No. That realization combined with the perseverance of my boyfriend to stop from me from buying, made me just to look at it and eventually walk on (which sounds so easy on paper, but was really difficult in real life). I did buy one thing however, which was a scarf bought from a local lady who also taught me how to wrap it. I actually needed a scarf against the sun while traveling since my old one was worn off. I felt guilty, but the argument that I would buy a similar scarf in the Netherlands anyways, instead of buying it from the local lady, won. There was much more that I wanted to buy. I will save you the full list but we are talking about sale items, impulse purchases, jerseys, and bikinis and sunglasses for the first sunny days.
In Marrakech, I also visited the leather tannery where they still do everything by hand. We received a twig of mint against the smell…
Besides saving money with this challenge, I also saved loads of water. Let’s say I would have bought 1 shirt per week. According to WWF, fabricating one shirt of cotton can take up to 2700 Litres of water. The challenge lasted 12 weeks in total. If you multiply this by 2700, I saved 32.400 Litres of water. Now add Christine and others who joined the challenge (I am aware of three) or who put back a shirt while shopping. You do the math. Maybe you thought you could not make a difference on your own, but every time you decide not to buy a clothing piece, you add to this number!
Looking back at the challenge I can say it has changed me. I have become even more passionate about slow fashion than I already was and I am proud that I can contribute to this movement. I look differently at clothing. It’s not just about new stuff, it’s about how you wear it. People do notice when you are proud of what you’re wearing; It’s the woman that makes the dress. With that in mind I dare to say I will not buy so much new in the future. Only if I think it is a unique piece and obviously fair and sustainably produced.
So what is the magic to slowing down your consuming behaviour? I have listed some tips (including great tips of Christine) which helped me a lot during this challenge and can help you in the future!
- First of all, ask yourself the famous question: ‘’Do I really need this?’’ It works, really, if you are honest with yourself. If your answer is yes because this black dress goes better with my pumps than my other two black dresses, ask the question again. Still yes? Go for it.
- The second most important one is: don’t surround yourself with clothing. Quit the newsletters of stores, don’t go shopping and don’t open webshops ‘just to scroll through’. My weakest moments during this challenge were when I was doing one of these actions. It might be tough in the beginning, but eventually you will not miss it! Mark my words.
- Educate yourself. I have watched and read so much about the (fast) fashion industry and can honestly say from the bottom of my heart: I just can’t contribute to this! You can educate yourself through our blog or by watching documentaries like The True Cost for example.
- Invest in good basics. Basics are just unemotional throw-away garments. When they start to wear out, I automatically bought a new, cheap one. And so the cycle continues. Investing in good basics, might cost you a little more, but will save you money in the end and saves the planet waste.
- Maintain your clothes so they look like new all the time (check out our blog on this topic). You can use lint removers for items made out of wool, wash less, fix items yourself or bring them to a repair shop. Before the challenge I went to a shoe maker with a pair of shoes. In particular heels I didn’t wear for ages but liked too much to throw away. Of course I could have bought a new pair of heels, but that was just more expensive ánd unsustainable. Also, as soon as I got my heels back it felt like I just purchased a new pair.
- Bored of your wardrobe? Try out a new haircut! Maybe it is not your clothing, but your overall appearance you find boring. A new shirt or pair of jeans may not help, but a new haircut will make every single piece look different.
- Shop your own wardrobe. I did, and it turns out I had some ‘hidden’ and really nice pieces in the back of my wardrobe. Tadaaaa!
- Do you know those ‘‘I have nothing to wear days’’? I do. Those days you think you have to do some shopping. But what if you have saved pics of some smashing outfits you picked together before? Pinterest is the perfect way to do so, or make a special file in your phone and off you go.
- Lastly, check your habits. Do you shop in between meetings? Just to kill time? Or as a hobby? Try a different, less polluting hobby. Call your granny instead of trying on clothes. Or start reading in between meetings; our other blog posts is a great start 😉 .
That was it. Will I be first in line at the stores the upcoming days? No, I don’t feel the urge and it feels great. But yes I am human and I love fashion so I will buy some new items, eventually. Though before I buy some, I will look at other possibilities, such as attending clothing swaps ☺
Also, I want to highlight that I am not saying not to buy anything ever again. I mean, fashion is fun! Should be fun! If you have the privilege to shop, enjoy it! Just shop conscious because YOU can change the lives of others, the garment workers, and the planet. Because in the end, shouldn’t fashion be fun for all?