A Return to Project 333

A few months ago I wrote about Clothes and Project 333. I wrote about how brand new clothes use up a lot of resources (and can also be expensive), having a significant impact on the environment. Not to mention ethical issues concerning the people employed to make them!

I feel that the main options to avoid having so much of an impact on the environment in this way are:

  • having a buying hiatus;
  • buying second-hand or from sustainable sources;
  • making and mending your own.

Although of course these are interchangeable. I try to combine elements of all three!

I was initially a bit reluctant to embark on my own Project 333. I tried to donate or recycle all the clothes that I knew I didn’t wear, were past it or that didn’t fit any more, using the ‘hanger trick’ to see whether I’d worn each item or not. And for a while I was content with just doing this. If I wasn’t sure about something, I put it in a drawer out of sight to see if I would want to take it out and wear it again. There must be close to 20 items of clothing in that drawer at the moment, and I’ve only taken 1 of those out to wear – only to decide I didn’t really want to wear it and put it straight back again. Soon these will all be consigned to a charity shop too.

Following on from this, at the beginning of July I really felt that I wanted to take the step of living with less clothes and see how I coped. Here is a reminder of what Courtney Carver says on her website about Project 333:

When: Every three months (it’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)

What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.

What not: These items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)

How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.

What else: Consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

Courtney’s rules are that your 33 should include clothes, shoes and accessories, but I decided for my first 33 I would only include clothes, although I am also keeping track of the shoes I wear. To be honest I haven’t bothered boxing up the remaining items (although this is more of a lack of space issue than anything).

I also created a little spreadsheet I could use to track how often I wore each item. Here is a snippet from July (click on it to make it bigger)! The items highlighted in yellow are those I wore most often, and red those that I didn’t wear at all throughout the month.

Project 333 spreadsheet

I’ve never been much of a shopaholic and I’m sure I don’t own nearly as many clothes as others might, but even so I have been surprised over the last month as to how content I generally am just with the choice of 33 items of clothing. Here is a breakdown, if you’re interested:

  • 6 cardigans
  • 2 jumpers
  • 5 vest tops
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 blouse
  • 3 long-sleeved tops
  • 5 dresses
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 skirts
  • 2 pairs of leggings

Shoes:

  • 2 pairs of flats
  • 1 pair of boots

I should point out that my work wear and casual wear are pretty much the same (we have a very informal work dress code) so I haven’t had to set aside separate items for work, which you might have to factor in. Your style is likely to differ significantly from mine – and the climate could be very different – so you might have different numbers of items in each category.

I haven’t bought a single item of clothing for a few months now, I think, and I really feel that except for a new pair of boots (mine are falling apart and not repairable, unfortunately, and I would like to have some for rainy days to keep my feet dry), I have more than enough clothes to last throughout the warm/hot months of the year.

This project has also shown me how much I re-wear the same items. Even with this restriction, the fact that I didn’t wear 6 items at all throughout July shows how I always turn to my favourite items even when there is novelty or more choice. I suspect this is the same with most of us. Even if you don’t want to do Project 333, keeping track of how often you wear each item could be interesting!

I am definitely going to continue with my Project 333 items until the end of August, and then I’ll do a little reassessment to see if these items will continue to work if it’s cooler in September. Then I’ll create a new Project 333 wardrobe for the months of October, November and December, to include warmer items. When I move on to this new 33 wardrobe I’ll look through the clothes I chose not to include in my summer 33 and see how many of them I still want to keep.

I’m not sure if Project 333 is something I will continue every single season, as Courtney Carver and many other Project 333ers do, but I am really finding it a useful tool to assess my wardrobe and find out what I enjoy wearing the most. It is also interesting that no one has noticed or commented on my limited wardrobe!

Have you tried anything similar? What would you think about giving it a go?

Clothes and Project 333

I’ve written about Reusing Old Clothes and Shoes before, but this week I wanted to think about how to deal with your clothes collection in general. In addition to costing a lot, buying lots of clothes and having more than you need can mean that you’re effectively using a lot of the world’s resources on what you wear every day. I always think that by buying an item you’re saying to the company, “I’m okay with you using non-organic cotton/too much packaging/synthetic materials” etc, so it’s worth thinking about what messages you’re sending out with your purchases!

I’ve been looking at all my clothes for a while and thinking about which ones I wear most often and which sit at the back of the drawer or never make it out of the wardrobe. There are some things that I’ve donated without a second thought, but there are lots of thing left that are ‘maybe I’ll wear this one day’ items.

Since I’ve become interested in Minimalism, I’ve read a lot about Project 333. If you haven’t heard of it before, this project essentially involves you picking 33 items and wearing only those for 3 months. Here are the basics of the project from website Project 333:

The Basics

  • When: Every three months (It’s never too late to start so join in anytime!)
  • What: 33 items including clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.
  • What not: these items are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)
  • How: Choose your 33 items, box up the remainder of your fashion statement, seal it with tape and put it out of sight.
  • What else: consider that you are creating a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in for three months. Remember that this is not a project in suffering. If your clothes don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them.

I keep thinking about it, and to be honest I feel at the moment that this might be a step too far for me – although it’s been very successful for many other people!

But I do still want to work out which items I can get rid of without missing them. A method which I’m currently following is turning all the hangers in your wardrobe the wrong way round. Every time you wear an item of clothing, turn that hanger back the right way. This way you can see which items you wear and which you don’t. I would recommend reviewing this at the end of a season or after a few months, as then you’ll be able to know that you haven’t worn that jumper for the entire winter, for example, and therefore you’re unlikely to wear it again.

Of course, there’s no point in reducing the number of clothes you have if you just keep buying more to replace them! As I mentioned in my post Minimalism, I’ve been keeping a ‘wish list’ of items I want but don’t need, in order to try and cut down on impulse purchases. It’s worth applying this to clothes too – it really makes you aware of how much you buy needlessly!

Have you tried Project 333 or something similar? What do you think is the best method for cutting down on your clothes collection?

P.S It’s Earth Day today! I haven’t done a separate post as I’ve already written about the National Day of Unplugging and Earth Hour, but if you’re interested then check out this website.

Week 9: Shoes

I find that I need to buy new shoes quite often. I don’t have many pairs, so I tend to wear the same ones very often until they wear out and I have to replace them. This bothers me because shoes are often made out of very cheap materials, generally including plastic of some kind.

I’d really like to find a way to make buying shoes more eco-friendly, but I’ve struggled a bit with coming up with ideas.

There are companies that sell eco-friendly shoes, but unfortunately all the ones I’ve come across are very expensive. If you’re interested, check out Nigel’s Eco Store, Meher Kakalia or Spartoo. Or have a browse around online!

I have thought of a couple of other options if you don’t want to spend an absolute fortune on shoes (which I don’t). Unfortunately they don’t really come close to the ultimately eco-friendly shoes that I was hoping for, but they’re a start:

    • Buy from charity shops, second hand shops, ebay etc. I always support doing this because it means that you can get an item you want, saving it from being thrown away until it is completely beyond being used. It also means that you’re supporting a charity or individual rather than a large chain.
    • Wear hand-me-downs. Obviously this one will only work if you have someone who is willing to hand things down to you, and who is of the right size!
    • Buy very good quality shoes, instead of cheap ones (such as from Primark or Shoe Zone), so that you buy less and they last for longer. I think if I can’t find any suitable ones in charity shops then this is the option I’ll be going for.

If you’re looking to get rid of old shoes, then either recycle them – I can do this through my council, but there are also always charity bins dotted around, often in supermarket car parks, that you can put your used shoes in – or, if they’re still in good condition, donate them to a charity or second hand shop so that someone else can wear them!

Good luck with going green this week!

Week 7: Reusing Old Clothes

Today’s topic is what to do with old clothes (thank you to my sister Lauren for the topic suggestion this week). Here are my favourite ideas:

  • Give good quality, unwanted clothes to charity shops or jumble sales (or to a family member or friend who wants them!) Charity shops are always short of donations, so this will always be appreciated. And if you want to buy cheap clothes, charity shops are a good place to start.
  • Turn them into hankies (see Week 5: Tissues).
  • Make unwanted t-shirts into bags. I’ve found several tutorials for making tops into bags; the most useful one was this tutorial on The Art of Doing Stuff blog. You could also turn them into produce bags with holes in, as demonstrated in this Knit Produce Bag tutorial, which I think is an absolutely brilliant idea to help you start cutting those small transparent plastic bags that supermarkets supply out of your life!
  • You can even turn your old clothes into strips and weave them to make something like this T-Shirt Yarn Bag or this fun summer placemat. (If you want more ideas on making placemats then Tipnut has some great ideas).
  • Cut them up into rags and use them for dusting and cleaning instead of buying brand new cloths – makes use of your old clothes and saves you money!
  • Unravel old knitted clothes and use the yarn to make something else.
  • Turn them into other items of clothing: e.g. turn jeans into shorts, or a long-sleeved top into a strappy one. I’m not much of a sewer (yet!) but I’m sure there are plenty of resources, both in print and online, out there that could help you with this.
  • Of course, if they’re too old or damaged to do anything with, then the best thing is to recycle them. My council offers household textile recycling, but you can also take them to a local recycling centre, or put them in clothes and shoes recycling bins that can often be found in supermarket car parks.

I hope you find at least one of these useful for reusing your clothes! Let me know if you have any more ideas to add!