TerraCycle offers a range of free programs that are funded by conscientious companies, as well as recycling solutions available for purchase for almost every form of waste.
TerraCycle offers free recycling programs funded by brands, manufacturers, and retailers around the world to help you collect and recycle your hard-to-recycle waste. Simply choose the programs you’d like to join; start collecting in your home, school, or office; download free shipping labels; and send us your waste to be recycled. You can even earn rewards for your school or favorite non-profit!
TerraCycle reuses, upcycles, and recycles waste instead of incinerating or land filling it. This moves waste from a linear system to a circular one, allowing it to keep cycling in our economy.
You can collect points, by collecting trash for your specific program and then redeeming your points. You can redeem your points by either receiving a cash value, or you can donate the points to charity. There’s a list of charities that team up with TerraCycle, in which you can choose to donate your points to.
I always donate my points, since I think this program is a great way for charities and companies to get involved with creating less waste, and I really don’t value the cash redemption as much.
Some of the charity organizations I was looking at to donate my points were:
100 points = Help safeguard 1 acre of rain forest for 1 year in the Northwest Gaia Amazon.
300 points = Have a tree planted in an American forest through Arbor Day Foundation
300 points = You can provide one year’s supply of clean drinking water to a person who otherwise would lack access to this most essential element.
625 points = You can help the D’Addario Music Foundation give one child a free music lesson.
2500 points = You can help the D’addario Music Foundation provide a child with 4 music lessons for a week. Kids who study music are 5x more likely to stay in school, graduate on time and apply to college.
100 points = For every 100 points, TerraCycle will send $1 to the American Red Cross to provide aid to those affected by natural disasters.
For this round, I decided to split my points between a couple of different charities. I decided to redeem my points with:
Providing one year’s supply of clean drinking water to a person who otherwise would lack access to this most essential element
If you want to participate in the TerraCycle programs, check them out at https://www.terracycle.com/en-US/select-country to see which programs you can join. The participating companies change often, so check back with the website to see updates. There are a lot of programs to choose from and supporting the partnership between TerraCycle and the participating companies creates more awareness to how much trash we produce, and how companies take responsibility for the trash they pass onto us consumers.
Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion.
There are seven different routes to sustainable fashion. There’s more than one answer to be fashionably responsible. Not all of the methods to approaching sustainable fashion, suits all people equally, because we all have different needs and preferences.
There are seven different moving sections to sustainable fashion.
Sustainable Fashion can be broken down into seven categories:
On Demand & Custom Made
Made to order
Green & Clean
Keeping a green and clean production process throughout the products life cycle
High Quality & Timeless Design
Fair & Ethical Fashion
Fair Trade: According to Fair Trade USA, products that get to bear the “Fair Trade” logo “come from farmers and workers who are justly compensated.”
Ethical: The Ethical Fashion Forum says that “Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacture of clothing which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment.”
Repair, Redesign & Upcycle
Repair clothing so that you can give it a longer life
You can redesign clothes to customize it into a unique piece
If you don’t plan on wearing or using the clothing item, you can upcycle it into another use
Rent, Lease & Swap
Rent or lease formal wear, so you can keep your wardrobe quantity under control, and you’ll get to choose from more options
Swap clothes with your neighbors, friends and family
Secondhand & Vintage
Shop at second hand stores or swap with neighbors, friends and and family.
These multiple methods to support a more sustainable fashion industry, and can be adopted by everyone. There really isn’t one “correct” method to the sustainable fashion route. I wanted to mention these seven methods, because I know I’ve written about creating my own DIY clothing from existing pieces, as well as shopping at thrift stores, but I’ve never listed all of the different methods to support a more sustainable fashion industry.
Under the accordance of sustainability, recycled clothing upholds the principle of the “Three R’s of the Environment”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, as well as the “Three Legs of Sustainability”: Economics, Ecology, and Social Equity. To change the existing fashion industry into a more sustainable system, we need to practice reducing waste, reusing textile materials, and recycling old textiles. The balance between the social, economic and environmental responsibilities needs to be taken into account as well.
Sustainable fashion takes a lot of self awareness from the entire fashion industry. It means actively working with the countries and farmers who take care of the materials we source, to create our textiles. We also need to make responsible decisions that won’t damage our resources or harm our environment. I buy a lot of clothing from thrift stores because I like the variety of options I can choose from. Walking into a thrift store, is like walking into a time capsule, and it’s a fun experience for me. I also upcycle a lot of my clothing pieces that have reached the end of their life. For clothes and textiles I want to keep, but I don’t want to wear, I will upcycle the items into something more useful for my life.
If you want to support a more sustainable fashion industry, consider adopting and practicing at least one of the seven methods that support the sustainable fashion industry. You can choose more than one method to support this much needed system. If possible, try to implement all seven methods into your wardrobe collection.
When H&M came to the California, specifically the Bay Area, word spread quickly. H&M started in Europe, and finally arrived here, to the states. The clothing looked like good quality, and the prices were low, cheap even. It felt like consumers hit the jackpot with this retail store, on the surface. This isn’t the first retail store to offer cheap clothing, with what looked to be good quality clothing. But if you dive right below the surface of what retailers are marketing, you might find the harsh reality of what consumers are benefiting from.
In the past decade, fast fashion has become a growing problem. The Fashion Industry has sold us the idea that instead of four seasons each year, we have 52 seasons each year. Style and clothing becomes outdated as soon as you buy it. Fast Fashion focuses on speed and low product prices, so that they can deliver frequent, new collections inspired by celebrity styles or runway styles.
As you might guess, fast fashion’s marketing strategy includes creating vibrant prints, vibrant colors and eye catching prints to be more appealing to the consumers. However, much of these fabrics are treated with toxic chemicals in order to achieve the final product. The pressure to reduce the time it takes to get a product onto the retail display floor, results in more environmental pollution. Water pollution, the use of powerful toxic chemical and the increase of textile waste are a few of the negative environmental impacts.
Garmets that are made of fabrics such as polyester and polyamides shed microfibers into the waste waste, which continue to contribute to the increasing plastic in our ocean. The demand for more production, increases the amount of waste produced as well as increases the amount of clothing consumers subsequently buy and then get rid of.
The fashion industry feeds our addiction to garments, and they’re very good at it. The low prices and latest trends are great selling strategies. “Newer, bigger, better, faster, etc.” are emphasized in commercials, advertisements and all over social media. Fashion moves fast, and therefore, must continue to develop and market new products. We, as consumers, have a tendency to buy, because buying something new gives us some form of fulfillment (that’s another topic I’ll write about in the future). The combination of companies pumping out new products and our addiction to fulfill that want for new products, creates a perfect storm in creating excessive textile waste and the destruction of the environment.
There are quite a few companies who have been called out for their practice of discarding unsold clothing and garments by cutting them up, destroying them or even pouring paint on them, so they can’t be worn. In January 2017, outside of Nike SoHo, in New York, there were bags of shoes found that had been slashed with a blade. Ex employees of Michael Kors, Juicy Couture and Henri Bendel have come forward in revealing that they were instructed to smash watches, cut up track suits and tear up silk dresses before discarding. Ex Urban Outfitters employees have admitted to being instructed to destroy “dime-outs”, which is a term used for merchandise that didn’t sell. H&M, Zara, JC Penny and even Victoria’s Secret have come under fire for these types of wasteful practices. Their defense in the the destruction of unsold merchandise, is that they are protecting the brand and are worried that donating the unsold clothing would undercut their brand. By not donating the extra merchandise, consumers won’t be able to purchase these items for a discount at outlets and thrift stores.
Americans throw out 25 billion pounds of clothing each year; 15% is recycled, and the rest ends up in a landfill. Not only does “fast fashion” damage the environment, it also disregards the rights of its workers. Fashion retailers such as Zara and H&M search for cheap manufacturing labor in countries like Bangladesh and others.
Here comes some ugly truths about fast fashion.
The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year.
The fast fashion industry is responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater.
In 2015, the fast fashion industry used 80 billion cubic meters of freshwater.
Production of textiles uses about 3500 different chemicals.
Cotton is one of the most resource-intensive crops out there.
We make 63% of clothes from petrochemicals.
The fast fashion industry produces 97% of our clothes overseas.
40 million people work in the garment industry today.
Dangerous working conditions exist for garment workers in the fast fashion industry.
Fast fashion is predicted to increase ~60% by the year 2030.
Between 1992 and 2002 the time we keep our clothes decreased by 50%.3
We buy 2X more clothes than we did just 15 years ago (2015 data).
The fashion industry produced 92 million tons of waste in 2015 alone.
85% of our old clothes end up in a landfill.
Only about 1% of textile waste is truly recycled.
With current technologies, it would take 12 years to recycle what the fast fashion industry creates in 48 hours
Fast fashion is a huge contributor to plastic pollution.
There are a lot of people and factors involved, when considering the timeline of producing a garment. From the farming of cotton fields, to the workers who work to create the bales of cotton fibers in the cotton facilities, then dying and creating the fabric, or using the screens to print images and patterns on the shirts, than to the manufacturer selling and sending the product out to distribution centers; there are a lot of people involved in this process.
There are real dangers for garment workers, who work to help push out production for big companies. In 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Balngladesh, which housed the Dhaka garment factory, collapsed and left 1,134 people dead and left approximately 2,500 people injured. It was a an eight story building and collapsed due to a failing structural system that included an additional illegal three stories above the original permit. Even though an engineer had requested an inspection of the building, since it was deemed unsafe, unethical administrative players in this case, passed the building off as safe, and told the workers they should return to the factory and continue to work.
There’s speculation that perhaps the pressure to have the workers return to the factory the next day, was to continue to complete the garment orders on time. The demand for the garments were still flooding in, so slowing down production was not an option for the managers. The demand for fast fashion, low-cost clothing by clothing brands, dangerous conditions, non-union representation and low wages, is what the fast fashion industry creates.
Our resources for producing cheap and fast clothing is taking a toll on the environment, and people are starting to speak up and speak out about it. The bigger the industry is, the more impact it has on our natural resources. More companies are looking towards more sustainable materials such as hemp, linen, and wool.
Hemp material is a favorite of mine because it is a more sustainable material. It’s a very durable material, has UV protection qualities, water absorbent and breathable, no chemical fertilizers pesticides required during farming, naturally biodegradable, and highly antimicrobial. It grows quickly and can be grown in all different climates.
Linen is derived from the flax plant. Linen is 30% stronger than cotton and is known to be the strongest natural fiber. It’s thicker than cotton, but linen lasts longer than cotton too. Linen can absorb 20% moisture before it starts to feel damp. It has a natural ability to prevent bacterial growth, yet can move air and moisture through it’s hollow fibers easily.
There are options when the choice of introducing new garments into your wardrobe. You can shop at thrift stores, choose more sustainable materials for your wardrobe, or even choose to not buy clothing as often, to alleviate the textile waste created by the fashion industry. Apparel retailers such as Zara and H&M dominate the world of fast fashion, with Zara owner Inditex making 3.44 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in profit in 2018.
The second hand apparel market was worth $24 billion in the U.S. in 2018, versus $35 billion for fast-fashion, say the figures from GlobalData.
However, by 2028 the used-fashion market is set to skyrocket in value to $64 billion in the U.S., while fast-fashion will only reach $44 billion.By shopping at thrift stores, you can help keep clothing out of the landfill.
Even better, is to stop buying cheap clothing, invest in sustainable fashion clothing and stop buying unnecessary amounts of clothing.
I discovered The Princes Project a few years ago, back in 2002. I actually gave my prom dress away along with the accessories that I wore with it. I really respect this organization and I encourage anyone to donate to it. Although you will pay for dry cleaning for the dress initially, it’s really not a big deal, consider it a gift you’re giving along with the dress. The Princess Project is a local nonprofit that promotes self-confidence and individual beauty by providing free prom dresses to high school teens. They provide free prom dresses and accessories to high school teens who cannot otherwise afford them. Each year they set up multiple locations for donations around the Bay Area as well as in San Diego. For more information, please visit their general website at The Princess Project Silicon Valley .
I wanted to show you my journey this year with The Princess Project. I actually don’t donate each year because I don’t always have gowns to donate, but this year I reached out to friends and asked for their donations. The Dress Donation Guidelines are as follows:
They DO accept:
Dresses MUST be current styles from 2008 to present
Dresses MUST be dry-cleaned and on hangers
Dresses MUST be prom dresses, formal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, or fancy party dresses, short and long, appropriate for teenagers, sizes 0-30
They CANNOT accept:
out of style garments
garments that have not been dry cleaned
accessories, shoes or purses
tuxedos or men’s clothing
dresses your mother would wear!
I initially asked for donations from my friends and had the task of dry cleaning them. (It’s requested that all dresses be dry cleaned before donating). My friend Julia had more dresses to donate than me, and thank goodness she had already dry cleaned three of them, so I didn’t have to dry clean all of them. I took the time out to research which dry cleaners I wanted to spend my money at. I found an eco-friendly dry cleaners in my hometown. Green And Fresh Cleaners. They are the first environmentally friendly, green dry-cleaners in Mountain View – 100% PERC Free. Green is better for your clothes, better for the environment, and better for you. I don’t’ ever dry clean clothes, so I did take the time out to make sure I spent my money where it would harm the environment less. I didn’t even know about green dry cleaning until I spoke to my brother and subsequently did research on it.
Did you know that most dry cleaners use PERC (also know as perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene), a chlorinated hydrocarbon classified by the EPA as a Toxic Air Contaminant. PERC can irritate eyes, nose and throat. It can cause headaches, dizziness or fatigue and is classified as a possible to probable human carcinogen by the EPA. We use an eco-friendly and green cleaning solution called GreenEarth. This solution is made from sand, the most abundant natural resources. In fact, it was discovered by a scientist working with a solution used in cosmetics. It’s the same base ingredient found in everyday shampoos, soaps and lotions, so it’s safe for you and your family.
At Green & Fresh Cleaners, they are 100% PERC free! So the images below shows the bundle that I brought into the dry cleaners, and the following picture shows the result after the dresses were cleaned and ready for transport to the donation site.
After I picked up the dresses from the dry cleaners, I dropped it off at Tuxedos & More. The last image is the collection of dresses building up at the store. Our contribution is on the right side of the line of dresses. The store employee actually informed me that the left side of the dress collection was from the owner of a gown store that just went out of business, so technically, all of the other dresses were brand new! I’m so proud of our contribution to this organization this year. Prom can be expensive or even slightly out of budget for some families and this organization eases the gown part of it for the girls.
Did you know:
A new study (April 2016), by Visa found that the average cost of promposals is a whopping $324. Here’s how the costs breakdown by region:
Northeastern families will spend an average of $431 on promposals and $738 on prom night for a total of $1,169.
On the west coast-$596 on the dance and $342 on the promposal totaling $937
In the south, the prom night averages $544 and the promposal $305 for a total of $859
Midwestern Families will fork over $515 on prom and $218 on the promposal for a total of $733.
In 2015, American families spent an average of $919, according to Visa Inc.’s ‘ annual prom survey.
A full 80% of respondents said they planned to spend money on the “promposal,” — an average of $324 — about a third of the average prom budget.
For girls, the whole “prom look” will cost around $400, and a new survey from Visa found that on average, families will spend $1,139 on prom in 2013.
This organization wasn’t around when I was in high school, but I’m so grateful that it’s here to lend a hand to families who may need it. Prom is a privilege and not everyone will experience it for a number of reasons. The cost and look of the dress was always a stress factor when I was younger. I hope more organizations like this become more prevalent. I hope I will be able to contribute each year, but if not, I hope that it stays and grows as our society grows and the next generation grows up.
Please consider donating to an organization like this around your area. This community effort brings people together and to help one another is what bonds us together as humans. Although you may have to pay for dry cleaning, consider it a gift along with the dress(es). It’s for a great cause and you may be contributing to a young girl’s dream to go to prom without the stress of the dress.
For my sentimental possessions, I own a 3″x 12″x 6″ box, which holds just about every sentimental object in my life. A couple of years ago, I scanned all of my photos, drawings from my childhood, awards I got in school, just all of the paper I held onto. I scanned them and uploaded them to my cloud and also backed it up into my external hard drive. I did this because I had the notion in my mind that wherever I was in the world, I could access all of my photos via the internet. I actually tossed out many of my photos after I scanned them, I kept the ones which I knew were important to me.
My sentimental box includes my collection of elongated pennies from different places I visited or vacationed, a few letters from relatives who have passed on, pins from different events during my lifetime, items from important people in my life, etc. Ironically, I did purge quite a bit of my sentimental items before I started writing this post. I had never purged this collection before and I kept only 1 sentimental items from certain points in my life. However, this is how I approached the situation for decluttering my sentimental items.
In the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, she guides readers through tidying up each section of their home; sentimental items are the last to be dealt with. Her method, which is called The Konmarie Method, tells readers to hold each item and decide if the item brings you joy or no longer does. Then, with the items that no longer bring joy, bid adieu to the item, thank it for being in your life for that period of time and then place it in the trash pile, donate pile or sell pile. This is a great way to approach sentimental clutter because of the dynamic relationship we each have with our items. I don’t have enough stuff to go through the Konmarie Method where there would be a significant volume difference, but I did consider why I wanted to keep each of my sentimental items as I went through and purged.
If you’re thinking of purging your sentimental items, you can check out her book or simply follow some guidelines that I listed below. There are many books on decluttering, however with the Konmaire Method, you examine what you want to keep verses what you want to donate.
Here are some helpful tips to help you declutter your sentimental items:
The key is to keep only mementos that are meaningful for us and for future generations. I tend to keep photos (which I digitize as well), and smaller pieces of keepsakes. I will keep a single handwritten letter or card from people who I hold close to my inner circle. I digitize everything else though, even those paper items, in case anything were to happen to them.
The Quick Purge: Big Stuff
I will purge the bigger items first. Part of the reason why I do that is because bigger items usually give me more room to save more stuff. If I don’t have the extra space, the purge has tighter parameters for me to work within.
Why Did I Keep That?
This question comes up a lot when I start going through my items. It’s the first question I ask myself. You’re likely to find some things you have no idea why you saved.
Display Your Keepsakes
If you want to keep the rocks, shells or spoons you collected from vacations over the years, create a place to keep them where you’ll see them and enjoy them instead of boxed up. Or if you can upcycle some of the items you can’t let go of, at least the clothing/fabric/item will be displayed somehow and integrated into your life.
Stuff Your Kids Made and Other Gifts
This category is a little harder to purge. Too bad all schools don’t make all small project items out of compostable materials. This category varies greatly in how or what small items you want to keep. Personally, if you can take a picture of the item and discard the physical item, that would be the ideal situation. Requesting no gifts is always a good start.
Letters, Cards, Kids’ Paintings and Other Papers
With schoolwork, paper items, awards, etc., I would scan or take a picture of these items and only keep the more important documents. You can create a small binder for each school that they go to so for instance, one binder could be for elementary school, one for middle school and one for high school. Ideally, as kids get older, paper keepsake items become less so the binders tend to be thinner. However, the binder will also give you a limitation of how much you can keep from each school as well.
We have a tendency to equate our memories with stuff, but when you carry so much stuff with you, and you never see it- how valuable is it really? Your memories will always be there; the event did happen. Although, if you have alzheimer’s or dementia- this point in my post would fall flat…
My point is that it’s really up to you. The question is, what are you willing to keep and why. Don’t think of this process as being forced to get rid of everything all at once. Just imagine if you had to fit the most important sentimental items into a 56 quart storage container, what would you keep?
If you want, start out with two 56 quart storage containers, or whatever size container you can handle. Some people are more attached to their items and it will take some time to go through it all. As long as there’s progress, you’re headed in the right direction.
So go… go assemble your Alzheimer’s storage containers, full of memories that you chose to keep. Actually I don’t call my container my Alzheimer’s storage container, it’s just a box, but I do have an external hard drive that I call “My Ut-Oh HD”. It contains everything I ever took a picture of or scanned. It’s my life as a photographic archive. I have yet to screw up the hard drive, and if I do, and everything is erased from the hard drive AND I subsequently have some form of memory loss… maybe I’ll just be a cat. They seem happy and angry- it’s perfect.
So I heard about the Konmari Method that has been quite popular around the internet. Marie Kondo is a professional “tidier”, she specializes in tidying. She is the author of the book, The Konmari Method, and has inspired many people from around the world. She helps people transform their homes into peaceful, inspiring spaces.When I read through the information, I actually thought the book was quite inspiring. I don’t own enough stuff for this system to work in my life but I do respect what Ms. Kondo has stated about our relationships with our items. Currently, I live a more minimal life but for those who do own more items in a few categories in their home, I think this is a great start to tidying up your home if you choose to. I think the biggest game changer in her method that I noticed was that instead of focusing on “fewer items” and therefore throwing out items in your home, she focuses on the relationship you have with each object. When you organize using the Konmarie Method, and you decide to donate or get rid of an item, you will respectfully end your relationship with your item. It’s an interesting twist and there’s no pressure to get rid of any of your items if you’re unsure about donating them. It really boils down to the question, “Does the object spark joy for you?”
Ask yourself: What is the ideal life you want to live from now on?
Think of your ideal life, this is why you are tidying your place
Take all of the items out to examine each one
Pick up each item- Does it spark joy?
Thank each item that does not spark joy, then release it
If you are unsure- Does it spark enough joy to take the extra step to care for it?
Hang long and heavy items on Left side of closet –> Right side of closet which is short and thing items
Fold clothes so they stand vertically in your dressers, so that they are all visible at a glance
Separate those that spark joy verses those that do not
Separate total disposal papers verses total necessity
Sort for each person (Keep File & Pending File for each person)
Store larger items vertically, it will save you room
All items have a functional value, instructional value and emotional value.
With the KonMari Method, you can get out from underneath your clutter once and for all. Here’s how:
Tidy all at once. Tidying a bit at a time never works. Things will get messy again quickly. (All at once means allotting about 6 months to the project.)
Visualize your destination. Before you throw things away, visualize your ideal lifestyle. Goals such as, “I want to live clutter free” or “I want to be able to put things away,” are too broad. You must think in concrete terms, such as: “I want to live like a Goddess, surrounded by peace and beauty.”
Identify why you want to live the way you envision. For every answer ask yourself “why?” again. For example, if you want to live clutter free so you get a better night’s sleep, ask yourself, “Why do I want to sleep better?” Do this 3-5 times. When you find the answer to why you want to be tidy, you are ready to move on.
Determine if each item “sparks joy.” Rather than focusing solely on throwing things away, which Ms. Kondo acknowledges only brings unhappiness, be sure to cherish what you love. Do this by taking each item in your hand and asking yourself “does this spark joy?” If yes, then it stays. If it does not spark joy, then throw it out. Note: You must touch every item so that your body can react. This is NOT an intellectual process. It’s a “felt” physical sense that you can develop over time, or the kind of intuition I discuss in depth in Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom. You let your BODY and emotions tell you.
Tidy by category, not location. In most households, items that fall into the same category are stored in multiple places. If you are tackling your clothes, then you must get all the clothes out of every closet and drawer in every room first. Start with tops first, then bottoms, and work from there. She also instructs you in the fine art of folding, which frees up an enormous amount of closet space. My drawers are now works of art—with my folded blouses and tops arranged like envelopes so that I can see everything easily.
Tidy in the right order. Ms. Kondo says that the following order is the way to tidy: Clothes, Books, Papers, and then Komono (miscellaneous.) She goes into great detail on how to separate and each category into sub-categories.
Discard before you place things back. You must discard first. Don’t put anything away until everything you are going to discard is removed.
How To Organize Your Home
Once you are done discarding, Ms. Kondo then teaches you how to organize. Again, there is an order and simplicity to this and everything has its place, even the items in your handbag! The KonMari Method also teaches you how to store all items of the same type in the same place so that things don’t become scattered and lead to more accumulation. Once you learn proper storage methods you will not only be organized, but you will save money because you won’t spend it on buying special storage items and gadgets. All you will need are drawers and boxes. Ms. Kondo prefers shoe boxes!
So on my journey of living a Zero Waste life, I had to audit my closet. For many reasons, I noticed that I didn’t wear all of the close I owned. I knew I needed a more efficient system to hold myself accountable.
I discovered the concept of a Capsule Wardrobe and I was fascinated by it. The concept of a Capsule Wardrobe has been around for awhile and I’m pretty late to the game, but I was hooked. However, to get my closet to the point of a “Capsule Wardrobe” was going to take a lot of work and analysis. The first step I took was taking individual pictures of each item I owned. Yep, I spent about two days taking pictures, cropping them and then organizing them by category (ie. Tops, Bottoms, Intimates, Shoes, etc.). From there, I made subcategories such as “Tops- Jacket 1”, “Shoes- Heels 1”, etc. As I was categorizing these clothes I did run into one problem, and that was the fact that I have workout clothes as well as other sport clothes and I didn’t know how to fit those into this whole new system.
When I researched on what other people created when they made their capsule wardrobes, I didn’t see workout clothes included in their systems. For me, my capsule wardrobe was to be a collection of clothes with a color scheme, style of clothing as well as the fact that all of the tops and bottoms could be mixed and matched to one another effortlessly. I ended up not including my intimates (you can’t mix and match a robe, unless you want to be THAT GUY), and I left off my running, snowboarding and surfing gear. Although I left those sport categories off, I did audit those clothes and donated quite a few pieces from each.
I started creating an outline of how I wanted to narrow down my scope of my wardrobe by defining my lifestyle, my color scheme (which included major colors, minor colors and accent colors). For me, there was a huge difference in viewing my clothes on a computer screen than in real life. There was a level of accountability when I viewed my clothes on my computer. I mean it was all there; as if my closet barfed all over my computer screen. I was able to compare the color scheme, style and even seasonal wear of my clothes when I saw all of them side by side.
After my capsule wardrobe was created, it forced me to pay attention to the care I put forth for my clothes. I always took care of the items I owned, but knowing I had a very limited amount of clothes, it made me more aware of my limitations in clothing choices now. For example, I own two short sleeve shirts, one dark and one light, and if I were to stain the light shirt, I’d definitely have to go thrift shopping after. Eventually I started picking out “Go To Outfits” for work, casual social events and even dressy events. With a limited amount of clothes, that wasn’t hard to get done.
There are quite a few helpful outlines floating out there on the internet, but this is the one I used for the beginning of my journey Capsule Planner by Un-Fancy. I have to admit that after I put this together, my morning and evening routines became simpler and quicker. I’ve enjoyed cleaning up and putting away clothes and I enjoy doing laundry more. I actually dislike doing laundry the most out of all the possible housework tasks, mostly because it takes so much time to get it done, and I haven’t figured out how to cut down time during the process- so I just deal with it. Some people can wear every piece of clothing they own and utilize them through their lives. I am not one of those people. Perhaps I favor certain pieces more than others, perhaps I simply have held onto a piece for so long because I’ve had it for so long and it evokes a special memory for me, either way, it only adds up to clutter in my life.
The purpose of my blog is to create effective and efficient life hacks so that daily life can be simpler and less stressful. I’m continuing to learn and grow and the small and simple life hacks I stumble upon, I hope to bring to you. If you’re thinking of doing a capsule wardrobe, you might want to first take pictures of every piece of clothing item. I stuck a push-pin to my wall and hung clothing pieces on a hanger and then took pictures of each. It’s a simple set up but looking at your clothing pieces hung up verses laying on the floor creates a more realistic image for your clothes. From there, start categorizing your clothing pieces and then naming them specifically so they group together easily on the computer screen. Admittedly, it’s a bit of work to get this project started but it’s well worth it in the end. And once you do this once- you really don’t have to do this project again. So I hope this helps whoever might be thinking of creating a capsule wardrobe.
This is my new 30 Piece Capsule Wardrobe:
1 pair of earrings
1 pair of sunglasses
1 dressy top
2 long sleeves
2 short sleeves
2 tank tops
2 pairs of jeans
1 pair of shorts
2 pairs of boots
1 pair of house slippers
It takes awhile to really clean out your life. It takes a tremendous amount of time to go through every single part of your life, to go through every single room and then analyze every single routine that you go through with these items. These routines don’t just focus on the day to day routines such as your morning routine or evening routine, but seasonal as well as special events (ie. birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc.).
I’ve been living this zero waste life for the past six years and I still find ways I can improve and reduce my green footprint. (I’m also donating a large amount of clothes due to my recent capsule wardrobe creation.) Only recently did I start to combine my zero waste lifestyle with a minimalistic approach to my lifestyle. Not producing waste is simple once you can refine your system, but my newest challenge was to figure out how to live with the least amount of stuff in each area of my life. With that challenge, I had to continually purge my life and re-evaluate everything I owned.
Regardless, donating items is a great way to repurpose the item to another person and it’s a great way to save the item from ending up in the landfill. I’ve donated to several charities over the years. I’ve donated to Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army International. Both of those charities have their own missions and visions and some may favor one over another. I personally donated to both for different reasons. Most recently, I discovered a program called the Homeless Prenatal Program, located in San Francisco. Their mission is “In partnership with our families, break the cycle of childhood poverty”. It’s a great program that I encourage people to donate to, if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.
When I purged my closet, I also came across two gowns that I’m planning to donate to the The Princess Project Silicon Valley. This organization ‘…promotes self-confidence and individual beauty by providing free prom dresses and accessories to high school teens who cannot otherwise afford them. Our effort is made possible through invaluable volunteer, donor, and community support.”. I previously donated my own prom dress shortly after I went to college, but these other gowns now need new owners. There are actually quite a few organizations in the Bay Area that collect prom dresses, but there is a small window of time to donate the dresses, so please check the donation date ranges.
Also, there are a few websites that also allow for donating or exchanging items between neighbors such as Craigslist, Freecycle and Second Harvest Food Bank. I’ve actually used all of these organizations for donations in the past. With Craigslist and Freecycle, it’s pretty straight forward with donating items. You usually list your item on the website and offer it to whoever you choose. You can xhose, “first come, first serve” or perhaps there is a direct agreement of time and place of item-pick-up with the other person. Please be careful when using these types of sites and take extra precautions when making your exchange. If at all possible, make the exchange in a busy and public area.
I volunteered at the Second Harvest Food Bank when I was in college, and it was a pretty busy place. It was very organized, but busy nonetheless- especially on the weekends. It was a great experience and I wish I could have spent more time with the organization, but I wasn’t able to.
If you are not in the San Francisco Bay Area, please seek out any local charities, donation centers or even churches in your area, that might need your donations. You never know who might need your items or your time.
Shopping at thrift stores can be a very fun experience. Thrift stores and discount stores are big stores that sell items that are ready to be picked apart and reused. Sometimes you’ll find treasures and sometimes you’ll find standard house ware items. The way I see it, is that every thrift store sells many gems and moments from the history of design. It really is a bunch of stuff squished onto to a rack or shelf for the next owner to pick up. When I walked around the clothing area for men and women, it felt like a sea of fabric, but old fabric that didn’t smell like chemicals and more like time and dust. There were rows upon rows of clothes to chose from. I needed to find two blouses and I actually found them really fast. The clothing was not divided up by color but instead by size. I was looking for blouses with collars so they were easy to spot on the rows of squished hangers. I honestly wanted to keep looking for more stuff, but I know I didn’t need it and it was better that I leave the rest for those who are actually in need of those clothes.
I then proceeded to move over to the bags, I was looking for a a bag to store my tools in as well as a new shoulderbag. I’m going to switch out my toolbox and purse for more efficient bags. (That topic will also be posted in the future). When I found the bag section, it was an amazing wall of colors. The photo I took was only 1/3 of the wall, but there really was a lot of variety to choose from.
Whenever I buy a new item, I always have a smal criteria list that I go through.
Function- Will it logically serve the function(s) that I intend it for?
Materials- Is it made of durable material that is also easy to clean? (Basically, can I toss it in the washing machine?)
Future- Will it be able to grow with my lifestyle? Or will I need to replace it in one to two years
As long as those three questions can be answered, I’ll most likely purchase the item. Aesthetically, not everything that fulfills those criteria points will look high end. A lot of the times when I purchase items, I alter the design somehow to fit my lifestyle better.
You can always get what you want and with a little creativity, thread and a needle- I tend to extend my personal touch in many of the items I bring home. I still think that thrift stores are a great place to purchase items and seek out needed items. In addition to that, by purchasing second hand items, you’re saving it from the landfill and giving it another chance to be used once again.
Below are some of the few items I purchased. The last image is of the trash I produced from my purchases.
When it comes to choosing what to keep versus what you want to throw out, it’s a toss up between how you feel about the object and how will it serve you. I tend to approach the choice of keeping items based on function. I don’t have much of an emotional attachment to objects and for the items I am attached to, they’re usually small enough to fit into my photobox. For all of my paper items that are sentimental, I digitize them and keep a PDF or JPEG file of them in my external hard drive, as well as my clouds. For all of my other sentimental items that are larger, I select a handful to keep and I integrate them into my everyday life sceneries.
With living a zero waste life, I try to be aware of how much trash I’ll produce by donating items or simply tossing out trash. A lot of the times, when I donate items, I try to donate items in good shape so that it has a better chance of being purchased or picked up.
Recently, I had to make a decision about keeping my set of clear glass cups or keeping my mismatched mugs. Although my cups are a nice set, and none of them are chipped or cracked, nor have I lost one to gravity and clumsiness, I still wasn’t happy with owning so many beverage containers. I actually inherited these cups when one of my friends moved from California to Virginia to be back in her home state with her family.
I took all of my mugs and set them out on a table and then I compared them to my clear cups and honestly- the mugs had so much more character and history that the decision was easy. Although my mugs are of all different heights, thicknesses and diameters, they can contain temperature better than my cups and have handles (always a plus when working with hot beverages). Each mug comes from a certain time period in my life and each evoke a fond memory. Although, I don’t want to own anymore mugs after I took a look at this set, unless I accidentally break one. This is the perfect amount of mugs for my collection and I’m glad to have it.
Owning mugs seems like such a minor issue, and it probably is. This post is written more for the sake of the moment when I decided that imperfection is perfect, at least for me it is. I’ve always been conditioned to own sets, sets of dishes, sets of cups, sets of books, sets of jewelry, etc. Even when I went into stores, items on display were displayed in sets with matching cups, dinner plates, bowls, gravy dispenser and so on. After I moved into my own studio I felt the need to have “perfect sets”. The clear glass cups that I traded out for my mugs were a perfect set too, yet I was not happy with them. Ironically, it was in my first apartment when I decided to live a zero waste life too, so perfection slowly went out the window.
Perfection doesn’t lead to happieness for me and I came to that realization when I donated the glass cups. However, I did wrap each individually and carefully and donated them to a local charity, so the next owner would receive a clean and carefully put together set.