Archive for the ‘ Some thoughts ’ Category

In retrospect…

As of today, my thesis is officially over. The past four months flew by rather quickly and I didn’t really have time to truly explore the ideas my thesis was based upon. There is a lot of literature available for sustainable consumption and downshifting/voluntary simplicity. Even though I feel that I could have read more, I did stick with my original proposal and rules.

I tried not to buy any fabrics or clothing items unless absolutely necessary. If I did, I would try to buy handmade or environmentally friendly items. Although I did not buy much, I learned that many of the eco-friendly clothes and fabrics were more expensive. Does this mean you have to be of a certain economic status to practice environmentally friendly habits? Of course not! However, it does mean that you would have to change your spending habits and be creative.

At first, it was easy to forgo purchases and keep up with weekly projects. I had my pile of fabrics and several ideas from DIY websites to keep myself busy. After a while, I became accustomed to not spending money on certain items, namely, clothing and fabrics. I did not feel the need to go shopping and if I found myself in a clothing store, I would refrain from buying items because I knew that I could make something similar for less.  Even so, it started to get difficult after a couple months. Most of the projects I came across were not feasible with the fabrics I had on hand (mostly T-shirts.) However, having my sewing projects connected to the overarching theme of sustainability made me try harder. I was only altering my consumption practices and, if I couldn’t do that, would there be hope to change other aspects of my lifestyle to follow sustainability ideals? By completing this project, I found that I was able to adapt and make items from very limited amount of material.

For the most part, I followed clothing sustainability practices more so than the ideals of voluntary simplicity. As a student, I can’t really cut down on schoolwork to focus on other aspects of life. However, I can spend my time enjoying life, sewing or otherwise. I spent less on certain items due to this project, but the time and effort I put into my projects resulted in a far more rewarding experience than simply buying the item. I found that I sometimes relieved stress by sewing and even though some projects took the better part of the day to complete, I enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. For me, the takeaway message of voluntary simplicity (and the less extreme form known as downshifting) is to find happiness in activities that have little to no monetary value.

Even though I did not make a large impact, I raised awareness of these ideals for myself and for those around me (i.e. friends who saw me wearing clothes I made.) Sustainability is not finite and the literature is constantly changing. Although my thesis project has officially come to an end, I have only learned a general overview of sustainable consumption. This topic is very interesting to me, and I hope to continue educating myself on these issues. I already have a large number of articles on clothing sustainability, which I am slowly reading through. However, this movement encompasses so many topics that it can be hard to keep up. Regardless of the sheer amount of information, the goals are the same; live in such a way to keep the environment and economy viable in the long term.

I am not sure if and for how long I will maintain the blog, but I know for certain that I will try to keep practicing sustainability in some way, shape or form in my life. By learning to reduce my consumption, I learned to re-prioritize my time and use it to enjoy what matters to me. I’ve learned a lot about sewing, and, though Florida weather makes hats and scarves a very rare occurrence, I re-learned the art of crochet. I spent so much time learning to use my sewing machine that I’m going to continue sewing for as long as I can. Plus, I still have a large pile of old shirts and remnants. But this doesn’t mean I will put spending on hiatus indefinitely. Instead, I will try to research different companies and support those that hold my ethical standards. Good-quality items are more expensive for a reason; they are made to last a lifetime, not with an end in mind.

As Kim from New American Dream, a center promoting responsible consumption practices, puts it, “Here’s to the old, the renewed, and the new with the promise of becoming well-worn.”

P.S. Here is how much fabric/old shirts I still have O_o




3 different piles!!

Green Fashion?

As my thesis project is coming to a close, I find that my first purchase [clothing-wise] is fitting. While shoe shopping for Easter, I  saw the following statement printed on a shoebox lid: we haul our groceries in reusable bags. we hold onto that can until it finds a recycling bin. we are passionate, engaged, and connected-to people and to our planet. we appreciate smart design. we believe that fashion is a reflection of who we are and an expression of how we live. we know that going green is a journey and every step counts-so together we can take those steps in shoes designed to leave a smaller footprint. we are all zoe&zac.™


The pair of shoes looked exactly like the other shoes I was trying on, but was created using organic and/or recycled materials. Needless to say, I bought that pair of shoes.

After looking into the brand a bit more, I found that the designer, Summer Rayne Oakes, also participated in a pilot project for the month of March at The Uniform Project. What a coincidence! I check the site every so often to read up on the pilots and see what causes they are supporting, but I’ve never followed up on the person conducting the pilot.

Summer Rayne Oakes is a model at NEXT, but also works as an activist for sustainable fashion. She co-founded Source4Style, a marketplace for designers to search for sustainable materials around the globe and, as mentioned, co-launched eco-friendly shoe lines at Payless ShoeSource.

It’s awesome to see companies trying to make eco-friendly products available to more people. Most people I’ve talked to about sustainable clothing believe that such fashion is for the rich as a lot of the clothes are sold in boutiques or small shops. The “green” clothes also cost more since the production of materials tends to run higher. However, if more companies start marketing these products, then the sustainable fashion industry  will be supported and can make their prices reasonable. Granted, the price tag at face value will still be higher than what we normally pay for our items, but it shows the real price of the product with little to no hidden environmental or social costs.


I tend to equate simplicity with country living. You work hard during the day and kick back when the sun goes down. Nothing too fancy, but you have what you need and everything you need is enough. But, when was the last time you stopped and thought, “I’m happy with my life and need nothing more?” This hardly ever happens because we are in constant want of something-anything, really-like Bill McKibben’s “grasping machine.” There are several reasons behind our consumption, but how legitimate are they? I find that many people buy items just because it’s on sale, it’s cute, everyone has it, the brand is well-known, etc. Are these items necessary, or do we buy them to make ourselves look better in the eyes of our peers? It seems to me that the latter is true more often than not. If so, our lives are controlled and defined by our purchases.

I don’t like the sound of that.

Our idiosyncrasies exist because we are not created from the same mold. So, why do we follow trends and buy items to fit in? We should embrace our individuality. Even though I’d love to follow through with my creative whims, I still find myself stalling. I start thinking of what others will think and feel less confident in my self-sufficiency.  It’s easier to stay within the societal norm than be seen as unusual. We don’t like situations that are glaringly different because we do not know how to react; the same goes for people. I know that whenever I see someone who looks or dresses different, I make some judgments. Sometimes, I’m more curious about him/her, but at the same time, feel as though I’m not living up to my full individualistic capabilities. Other times I think the person is eccentric, odd or a misfit. And sometimes, I begin to wonder how they can look so different and receive stares from the public without batting an eye. Personally, I don’t like the feeling of people giving me attention, so if I were to stick out like a sore thumb, I’d be very anxious. Whenever I make a new shirt or dress and wear it in public, I feel more self-conscious as if people just know that what I’m wearing was made from recycled fabrics. Being accepted may be more important than expressing your self. There’s a fear that you will be ostracized or ridiculed by the public for being different. It helps if you have a support system; online communities are sprouting up everywhere you turn because as humans, we feel the need for reassurance and acceptance: to know there are other people in the world who live in the same manner.

A less extreme, and less judgmental option to spending [next to] nothing would be to downshift. Living on less, but not in austerity. With the economy in recent years, many have already cut down on their spending. People have begun to create with their purchases instead of purely consuming. Some find this a hassle, but others find enjoyment in their handiwork and have a new sense of satisfaction. Although they may have less, the time and effort put into the products results in a far more rewarding experience than simply buying goods.

Maybe I will start focusing on the positive aspects of living simply and begin my journey into a similar lifestyle. I’ve already taken a few steps, it just needs a leap of faith.