Back in September 2013 I started a Year of Eco Challenges. I decided to take on one challenge for each month of the year and so far have taken on 5 challenges and am preparing for a 6th one! They include not using shampoo, avoiding supermarkets, buying nothing new or secondhand for myself, trying to give something away each day and doing the Rubbish Diet. On top of that I am also preparing to go plastic free for Plastic Free July!
TheFIREstarter – a blogger who writes a great blog about achieving Financial Independence so he can Retire Early (hence the FIRE) decided to sponsor my year via my DoNation page (find out more here) by taking on the challenge of buying no clothes for 2 months (or maybe even longer). He has written me a guest post on why he is doing it and how he plans to tackle the challenge, so over to him….
Having been an avid reader of this excellent blog for a while now, and after seeing Zoe’s pleas to get people involved in her DoNation challenge, I thought the least I could do was take a look to see what it is all about. To my pleasant surprise a lot of the challenges involved are actually really quite small ones, so I would urge everyone reading first and foremost to take a look yourself if you haven’t done so already, especially if the reason for not looking so far has been that you were scared that the challenges were going to be too hardcore for you. Its not all living in mud huts and washing with rainwater! The idea is far more about helping people to make small changes in their behaviour, that if multiplied over the millions and billions of souls on this planet (or in the rich developed world at least) will add up to highly significant changes for the better.
The No Clothes Challenge
The challenge I picked to start me off was the “don’t buy any clothes for two months” challenge. So why did I pick this one? Am I some sort of fancy pants fashionista with a designer hand woven sheep’s wool suit from the local haberdashery for every day of the month in wardrobe? Am I a clothes shopping addict with a credit card bill the size of Kazakhstan’s GDP who seriously needs to kick the habit? Or am I just a minimalist attempting to turn naturist? As good as a story all of those situations would have made, I’m afraid to report I am not really interested in clothes or fashion as such in the slightest (don’t panic! I still have the overwhelming urge to wear them in public). But… and I think this is a key point… I still have a wardrobe that is absolutely bursting at the seams!
How the hell does that work?!
Well it’s just the classic case of the crappy consumer lifestyle catching me out. And I am guessing many other people who have no real interest in clothes have purchased themselves into exactly the same situation as I. The amount of charity bags of clothes I have ditched over the last few years is ridiculous. At least I know they’ve gone onto a good cause, but really it was just to make way for the new stuff I’ve bought, and if I’m honest I totally didn’t need half of it. I only bought because it was there, and I could afford it (although that second justification doesn’t seem to stop a lot of people anyway!).
So there we are, that is the current situation. My wardrobes are creaking under their load and I’m fed up with it, and I needed a challenge to stop the situation getting worse.
While it is clear that I’ve chosen this challenge based on really quite selfish reasons, I also don’t think there is anything wrong with that, and if you think that way you are missing the bigger picture. At the end of the day all of these challenges will benefit you in some way, whether it be by improving your health (walking up the stairs challenge), saving you money (no buying challenges), or just generally making you feel good about yourself that you are doing the right thing (stop using plastics challenge). The way I look at it is by picking a challenge that I want to do, and can see the obvious benefits from, I am more likely to succeed and then everyone’s a winner.
My strategy for the challenge is a simple one. Don’t buy any clothes full stop for the two months! I will inform my nearest and dearest to do the same just in case I get caught out with a thoughtful gift, but with no birthdays or anything else coming up (clothes for valentines day? I don’t think so!) I don’t think this will be an issue. The one thing I’ve noticed since starting is that my winter coat is getting thread bare in places, so i may have to try my hand at some sewing in a week or two. So again… no headline grabbing stories in this section (here I come again with my big but…)
BUT… The other great thing about these challenges is that they get you thinking. If 2 months is going to be a breeze why not try 6 months or even a year? Apparently my 2 month challenge will save 38Kg of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere which already sounds substantial to me, so over a year that would be over 200Kg of the stuff! That’s pretty awesome! When I was starting to trim my budget around a year ago and trying to cut out the crap that I didn’t much care for I STILL made the mistake of including a clothing budget of myself. This challenge has made me realise, no budget needed pal!
If I do eventually need anything I’ll get down to the charity shop instead. (I’ll draw the line at underwear which I think is fair enough)
So to summarise, due to doing this challenge my wallet, my wardrobe joints and fixings, and the earth all come out happier, so I will repeat once again, everyones a winner*
*Ah one glaring oversight here of course, I forgot to mention the plight of the huge multinational clothing corporations who will miss out on a hundred or so pounds of profit from my missing in action transactions. Get those pocket sized violins out people!
Thanks loads to TheFIREstarter for writing this great post for me! If you are interested in finding out more about achieving financial independence, go and check out his blog here and keep up to date with his latest posts by following him here on Twitter!