Packing Party

Packing Party

As you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I’m really interested in minimalism and how it can contribute to an eco-friendly lifestyle. So, here’s a minimalist concept I haven’t explored before: the packing party. The inspiration for this post came from Anne over at Minimalist Sometimes, although I am very late to the party with this! You can find her rules My Pseudo Packing Party.

The idea is to pick a room – I chose the bedroom first – and pack up everything you know you won’t use in the next 48 hours or so. Then, after 48 hours (or longer if you like!), go through your packed items and decide which of them you’d like to add back to your newly-cleared space. The rest you then donate or recycle or landfill. Like Anne, I’m not including furniture in this. For the bedroom, I also didn’t include clothes and shoes (which I pared down and am more conscious of since doing Project 333) or earrings (which I sorted through recently).

I returned to my packed items whenever I needed something, although this wasn’t very often. This helped me to get rid of expired or unused medications, and also reinforced that although I have a lot of jewellery, I really don’t wear much of it. After unpacking the remaining items (in a different room), I got rid of a box’s worth of items, and there is now a free drawer in our chest of drawers. Even though I’d tackled these items before, I was surprised at how easy it was to get rid of even more.

Next, I’m turning my attention to the cutlery drawer in the kitchen (and any similar items hanging on the wall). I’m tackling just a small area because we have a lot of things in the kitchen and I don’t want it to get too overwhelming.

After a nice spring clean, here is the drawer with the items I know I regularly use (some of them don’t live in the drawer, but I popped them all in so you can see them all together). It looks like a lot, but wait till you see what’s been left out…

Cutlery drawer

And here are the items that I’ve ‘packed’ up. I’m keeping this tray in a corner of the kitchen, and I’ll only go to it if I need one of the items in it:

Packed cutlery

It’s been a week since I started this and I haven’t gone to look for any ‘packed’ items at all (although I have a feeling they may need to move home when I want to use the baking tray!)

Have you tried a similar thing? Or maybe you’ve moved recently and had to do this in earnest? I’d love to know your methods for paring down your possessions or just taking a good hard look at them 🙂 I find it’s really helpful to remove everything from an area as it helps to emphasise just how much was there, and whether you feel happy to put every single item back again.

Thank for reading!

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?

A Digital Diet

As I’ve written about before – see my Computer Time post that I published last year – I think that part of being eco-friendly is about watching how much time you spend using technology. I am as guilty as anyone else at mindlessly staring at webpages, and as I wrote before, I’ve been trying to cut down how much time I spend on my computer, in order to help save energy and not spend so much time glued to a screen.

I realised how much I’d deviated from my original plans (again, see previous post), when I found myself knitting whilst browsing Pinterest the other day. And no, it’s not possible to do both at once, yet somehow I was trying to do it anyway.

I write a lot about eco-friendly products, and I realise that I do this because we live in such a consumer-focused world. So, as you’ve seen if you’ve been following my blog for a while, I’ve been also trying to explore ways of reducing how much I buy in the first place (see my Minimalism and Project 333 posts) which can often mean that I’m left with more time on my hands.

I’ve been without my computer for a day or so – such as on the National Day of Unplugging – but obviously that’s just one day. I want to try and incorporate that mindset into my day-to-day life; single days such as the National Day of Unplugging and Earth Day are great for raising awareness but won’t do much good unless they encourage people to bring eco-friendly values into their lives for good.

I’ve mentioned before a book called The Digital Diet by Daniel Sieberg. It takes you through thinking about what you use your technology for, and whether you truly enjoy it and use it in the way that would suit you best. You start off with a two-day ‘digital detox’ before moving on to gradually increasing what Sieberg calls your ‘e-day allowance’, as well as doing small exercises every day to help you think about how and why you use technology. I’m currently on ninety minutes per day, so I’m trying to restrict my technology time to match that. It’s a challenge, but I feel like it’s helping me to realise how much time I waste and how much electricity I’m using.

Even if you don’t buy the book, try thinking about your technology habits. Do you want to spend so much time reading online news or gossip or flicking through the Facebook homepage?

I’m hoping that by addressing my technology usage I’ll start thinking more about what matters to me both online and in the rest of my life. Technology is great, but it shouldn’t take over our lives at the expense of everything else! By thinking more about my energy consumption beyond a single hour, day or week, I’m hoping to reduce the amount I use whilst still enjoying myself!

Have you tried something like this before? I know that so many of the blogs I follow are full of photos of gardening, cooking, knitting and other simpler but enjoyable things in life, and I’m trying to follow this idea too! (N.B. a belated Happy Days post – see my first one here – will hopefully appear shortly!)

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.