General ramblings, No Clothes Challenge!

Why No New Clothes for a Year?

September 8, 2015

I’ve been totally blown away by the response and the enthusiasm for the No New Clothes for a Year Challenge!
I genuinely thought I would be only be me, who would want to do something like this for a year.
But it’s something that seems to appeal to what may admittedly be a fairly small ‘niche’ out there, but we now have over 40 members in the Facebook group I set up, which I think is pretty awesome!

Seeing lots of other people join in, has really got me thinking about motives. About why people might want to jump on board with this challenge, what their motivations are for doing it, and what they hope it will achieve.
And whilst I’m pondering that about all the other people who have joined in, it’s really made me question why I’m doing this too.

The first thing people usually ask me about My Make Do and Mend Year (our year buying nothing new) is Why?
Why did we decide to spend a year buying nothing new?
And I always say that I can’t really remember why!
It started out as a personal challenge, but it ended up totally changing the way we shop, and actually, it made us change the way we live. Not in big, move into a yurt and start knitting with cat hair ways, but in lots of simple small ways, that have all added up to mean that our lifestyle now, is far more sustainable/eco/green than it was when we started out.
And those changes have stuck.
I never thought when we started out on the year, that it would change our lives, but it has. And it changed it in lots of ways I could never have anticipated.
It created opportunities to do things I would never even have thought possible. Like write for a national newspaper, or give a TED talk.
And it proved to be hugely empowering.
When I stop and allow myself to think about the future, big picture future of the planet, rather than where our family will be in 5 years time, I freak out. It’s probably not helped by the fact that I’ve just started reading “This Changes Everything” by Naomi Klein, and I’m right at the beginning bit where she is outlining just how very screwed we are…
I freak out about the overwhelming enormity of the challenges that are facing us, as a collective humanity, and the fact that nobody seems to be doing anything about it.
I freak out about the fact that I don’t feel like I can do anything about it.
I want to ring up David Cameron and demand to know why he isn’t making climate change his top priority. Why he seems intent on helping the fossil fuels industry, and not the renewables one. Why no-one seems to be joining the dots between the more extreme weather events we are seeing both here in the UK, and all over the world, and climate change?
But I don’t think he’ll take my call.

So all I can do, as one person, all we can do, as one family, is to do the things we can do.
To consume less, to consume more consciously.
To think about what we are buying; whether we need it, or just want it; to think about the impact that that product has on the environment-what it is made from, where those materials have come from, who has made it, what will we do with it when we longer need or want it.
And to keep asking these questions.
We’re not perfect. I’m not for one minute suggesting that we never buy something just because we want it. We don’t live a life of austerity and deprivation. We still buy stuff (more stuff than we should), but we try really really hard to buy secondhand, so that we are not contributing to the drain on the planet’s resources, and we are re-using something that still has life left in it.

So to answer the question, “Why No New Clothes for a Year?”.
I’m still not entirely sure!
I already buy all of my clothes secondhand, so using the argument above, I’m not contributing to any drain on resources, and I’m side stepping the whole supply and demand thing for fast fashion.
So perhaps buying no new clothes at all (new or secondhand) won’t really change my environmental footprint at all.
I think partly I just feel like I need a new challenge, and I want to see where this journey takes me. I want to challenge my creativity and see what happens when I get really, really bored of the clothes I have and am forced to get inventive with them. Or see what happens when I run out of socks that don’t have holes in them, or my jeans are beyond repair.
I’ve become lazy. I buy new (secondhand) clothes when I don’t really need them. When I already have plenty of clothes at home I could make better use of. I justify it because they are secondhand, but too much stuff (be it clothes, or anything else) is still too much stuff whether it was bought new or secondhand.

Right at the very end of My Make Do and Mend Year, I went to watch a screening of a brilliant film called The Clean Bin Project, a documentary about a couple called Jen and Grant who spent a year seeing who could produce the least waste, and buy the least stuff. It’s fabulous, and one of the bits that really stood out for me, was when they were interviewing someone about his lifestyle, and asked his advice for people looking to live more lightly. He said “Just do one more thing”.
I love that. It’s very much how I feel my journey has been. I started out on a challenge, and I couldn’t help but learn about the impact of consumerism on our planet. And I was overwhelmed, and I still am. I can’t change the world (at least not on my own). I can’t save the world (at least not on my own). But I can keep doing one more thing. And then another. And another.

Maybe that’s why No New Clothes for a Year?
It’s one more thing I can do.

How about you?
If you’re joining in with the challenge, what’s your motivation? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear (mainly because I’m really nosy curious!)
I’ll start a thread in the Facebook group too, so come and join in the conversation!

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  • Reply It’s New Challenge Time! | The Inelegant Horse Rider September 18, 2015 at 10:13 am

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  • Reply We Dare You to Go a Year Without Buying Clothes | September 11, 2015 at 4:38 pm

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  • Reply We Dare You to Go a Year Without Buying Clothes | iFixit September 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    […] clothes for a whole year. Instead, participants of the challenge—which launched on a blog called Make Do and Mend Life—will repair, repurpose, and “make do” with what they […]

  • Reply Nicola September 8, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    Let’s try this comment again and hopefully it won’t get lost into the ether this time!
    I have to admit the question I’ve had the most since starting this is “Why?” and I have the same answer as you “I don’t really know!” It is a challenge for me. Something to keep my focus but I’m also very conscious that every little thing helps. While we have a government who don’t (or won’t) care about climate change and the environment then every tiny change I make will make a difference.
    By reducing my need for new things, single use things and disposable things, I am hoping it will lessen my footprint on this world. I hope that I can inspire and teach my children so that they in turn can inspire and teach their children.
    I don’t know why no new clothes but I am hoping it will make a small difference. Somehow.

    • Reply Jen September 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      Baby steps Nicola. I think it’s so important to do SOMETHING. This is something.

  • Reply agy lee September 8, 2015 at 11:43 am

    For me it was challenging myself further – the unmentionables, as one of my blogging friends puts it!

    • Reply Jen September 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      The unmentionables-love it!

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