The Zero-Waste Wardrobe?

Although I started Project 333 on June 1st, the official summer session starts July 1. I joined the Project 333 Quick Start Course and am getting lots of great ideas. It’s also a nice community and I’m meeting other Minimalists there.

Karo, one of the other people taking the course, posted a link today on the course’s private Facebook group to a really thought-provoking Slate Magazine article about what happens to clothes after you donate them to a charity, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army, here in the United States.

The article discusses how the nicest clothes are sent to the thrift store for resale, then the worn clothes are sent to a textile recycler (for pulp/rags) and then the medium-ish clothes that are not quite new or didn’t sell are compressed into cubes, shrink-wrapped and shipped overseas.

It’s kind of horrifying to think what these people must think of us….hyper-consumers who give away new or slightly worn clothes because we are bored with them. Apparently there is a whole market overseas for cast-off, nearly new American clothes.

It made me glad I am doing Project 333, because I am really using every item in my assigned wardrobe. There’s no waste. Once the project is over I will probably add in a few items again, but I think my permanent wardrobe will be smaller now. I’ve gotten used to thinking I need more than I really do. I thought a couple of weeks of clothing per season was a small wardrobe, but now I realize I can manage on even less that that with a well-chosen, coordinated capsule wardrobe.

Before, I could just give away extra clothes to charity and forget about them, but I think now I will always remember those shrink-wrapped cubes of discarded clothes. How much nicer to have a small wardrobe of well-loved items that you will wear until they are worn out. They’ll still end up with the textile recycler eventually, but at least the energy and materials that made them won’t be completely wasted.

It’s funny – I have thought about socially responsible shopping more from a cruelty or free trade perspective but never really just from a waste-generating perspective. I have thought about zero waste in terms of household trash but had not thought of clothes as waste, because I thought someone could use them. But according to the article, so many clothes are donated, it far exceeds the actual need, and at a certain point, it just becomes garbage. Food for thought!

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Project 333 – Second Compromise

Urgh. Well, planning is obviously an important part of being successful on this 333 project. I just realized yesterday that one of the 2 necklaces I chose doesn’t go with any of my outfits! Unless I just wear it with a white top and khaki or black bottom, but the white already is needed for a few other outfits. So I am swapping it for something neutral. I think I’ll definitely need to do 333 for Autumn as well since I am having a bit of a rough start for the Summer session.

The doctor just switched me from heels to flat shoes for 6 weeks now that the walking boot is off, so I am swapping to 3 pair of flats: tan and black ballet flats & brown topsiders. I had already missed my topsiders! Looking forward to wearing khakis and jeans next week after 3 weeks only in skirts!

Started physical therapy and my leg hurts a lot less already, but I have a tendency to overdo, and then it hurts. Gotta be patient! Haven’t decided if I’m doing the gym yet. I have a colonoscopy next Friday (yes, it’s been a fun month), but maybe the following week I’ll visit the gym. They offer a 3 day free trial pass to help me decide. I kind of feel like the gym is selling out to commercialism, but if I can’t walk much or do aerobics or yoga or kickboxing, my usual at-home exercise options aren’t available to me. I confirmed I can prepay 1-2 months, so maybe I’ll give it a try. Plus, to be honest, I own a lot of Apple products for someone who is worried about commercialism!

Update: the physical therapist has actually assigned me 5 min/day for 30 days on the bike, so either I buy one or join the gym. Guess it’s the gym!

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Project 333 – First Compromise!

Wow, it’s only Day 4 of my Project 333 experiment and I already had to make a compromise.

I work in Telecommunications, and I’m visiting work sites today – I need to wear closed-toe shoes since it’s an industrial site. My 3 designated shoes are all open-toed. So I have to wear a tennis shoe on the leg that doesn’t have the brace. But just for a couple of hours, then I’ll switch back to my regular shoe. I was going to swap my earrings for a more secure pair that wouldn’t get lost, but then I decided that was just an excuse! It’s a slippery slope once you start making exceptions…

I can tell that I’m going to have to switch out an item on my list already – the black open toed flats on my list are too flat to wear with my walking boot. My walking is very lopsided and it hurts my knee. So I’ll swap them out for my black wedges until I’m off the boot.

I wore my jeans skirt to work on Friday and then the same skirt again to a party on Saturday with my co-workers, but no one commented, luckily. In addition to Project 333, my wardrobe is a little limited by being in the knee-high walking boot brace, so hopefully everyone understands!

I’m headed to the doctor tomorrow for an ultrasound, so hopefully he’ll say that my torn calf muscle is healing properly. I really want to get back to walking on the treadmill as soon as possible, but I think it will be at least another week, unfortunately. 2 weeks and counting, since my injury…I am trying to be really diligent with my calories so I don’t backslide on my weight loss.

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Project 333 – I’m starting on June 1st!

Starting June 1, I will be “officially” doing Project 333 until September 1. I published my Summer wardrobe list for Project 333 a few weeks ago. I’ve changed a few things around since my original post but the list will be set as of June 1. I can only wear those 33 items for the next 3 months.

This will be a fun experiment. I actually wear about this amount of clothing anyway. Since it’s summertime, I don’t need coats or other layers, so this is an easy season to start with. I’m hoping to keep it going for a full year, finishing with Spring 2013. We’ll see how I do.

What’s been hardest for me is giving up accessories. I usually have several colorful necklaces and scarves to accent my basic items. So that will be an adjustment – I will only have 2 pair of earrings, 2 necklaces and 1 scarf for the 3 month period. It was also really hard to give up my super comfy Sperry topsiders, but I couldn’t fit them in. I guess I will just go barefoot if I get invited on a boat this summer!

I’m fortunate that it is summer and that I already had a lot of skirts on my list. I just tore a muscle in the back of my calf and will be in a walking boot (up to my knee) for 2-8 weeks.

This project has already made me think about my wardrobe and what I really need and use. Long term, I think I would add a couple more each of shoes, tops, scarves and necklaces back in, and also a cocktail dress, but the amount of clothes seems about right. This feels doable but we’ll see how I feel in a few months! I’ll check in partway through to let you know how it’s going.

if you want to participate in Project 333, check out Courtney’s website for more details. I actually have changed my season dates slightly to suit my personal taste. The “official” summer period for Project 333 is July 1 – October 1, so you have plenty of time to get started if you are interested. Why not make a list just for fun and see which of your clothes and accessories make the cut?

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Voice-Over Acting – Resources

I’ve received requests to write more about how to get started with a career in Voice-Over acting. While I’m glad that readers are interested in my new sideline, I’m not an expert on the subject (yet). I’m still getting started myself! I am progressing very slowly as I have a full-time job, this blog and other activities that keep me busy. I need to do some volunteer work to build my resume and then take some additional classes before I get starting applying for VO jobs.

That said, I do have some advice for those of you who are interested in possibly pursuing Voice Acting as a career.

Classes /Coaching:
There are classes available if you are interested in a career in Voice Over work. I took classes from  Del Mar Media Arts in Irvine, California. This school focuses on voice-over so it was perfect for me.

Check to see if there is a school in your area. If not, there should be regular acting classes available -this is a helpful foundation for VO work and will still be useful to you. Acting is acting, although it would also be helpful to have coaching in aspects specific to VO work.  Ask your acting teacher to recommend a local VO coach. Your teacher can probably also recommend a local studio who can record your VO demo.  My friend saw VO classes advertised at her local community center as well.

Books:
There are several good books available on the subject. My friend recommended The Art of Voice Acting by James Alburger. There are several other books available on Amazon.com  as well if you search under “Voice Over.”

Online Resources:
If you search online, several websites offer coaching or courses in VO.  Also check out Twitter and Facebook, you can follow groups, agents or actors who specialize in VO. Voices.com is on both Twitter and Facebook, and their website offers employement opportunities as well.

My friends who are already in the industry have cautioned me that this is a very competitive field, and it can take years to build a big enough business to support yourself with income from VO work alone.  However, I can tell you from my limited experience that it’s lots of fun!  I really enjoyed my classes and recording my VO demo.  In my classes, our final exam was to do a mock recording session in front of industry agents and it was a really fun experience!  I’m looking forward to auditioning in the future.

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Project 333

I have been reading Courtney Carver’s minimalist blog Be More With Less for a couple of years now. This week I started reading another of Courtney’s blogs, Project 333.

This is a really great concept. A lot of us in the minimalist community are trying to pare down our wardrobes to what is essential, but it can be hard to choose which items are needed most. What if you discard something that you need later on? This project helps you to really decide what the key pieces are in your wardrobe. Even if you don’t follow the project to the letter, making the list can be a very helpful exercise. I am planning to take a vacation soon, and this helped me organize my packing list quickly! Also, I was trying to decide whether to give away a few necklaces and this exercise helped me part with 5 of them by focusing on what I really will use.

Here’s a summary of the project basics from the Project 333 Facebook page:

  • 3 months with 33 items
  • 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, underwear, sleep, in-home lounge wear, and workout clothing (you can only wear your workout clothing to workout)

So basically, the idea is that for a 3-month season, e.g., Summer, you decide what your essential wardrobe will be. Then, you box up or put your other clothes in another closet and don’t use them for that 3 month period. The idea is to realize that you really don’t need that many clothes at all. Before the next season, you make a new list, maybe adding a warm coat for winter, or changing from short sleeves to long.

You can do this on your own, or subscribe to the website and join the Project 333 Facebook page. This provides support for others who are doing the same thing. Although 33 items doesn’t sound like much, I was surprised how easy it was to come up with a list, and how much it actually included. It also helped me to notice some inefficiencies in my wardrobe. For example I needed more than one color of shoes, and not all my clothes coordinate with each other. It makes more sense to have an integrated wardrobe where every top can be worn with every pair of pants or shoes, etc.

I’m in the process of losing weight (16 lbs so far), so I will be replacing my wardrobe a few times over the next year. Project 333 is a perfect way to streamline my approach so I don’t waste a lot of money on clothes that will be discarded soon.

I’ve gone down one clothing size so far. One change I already made was to switch from preppy navy to basic black as a wardrobe staple. It’s easier to match shades, more readily available and has more inexpensive options. I don’t want to buy a Ralph Lauren sweater and have to give it away in 2 months. I still have some items that coordinate with tan or navy flats but I’ll phase those out as I downsize. Eventually everything will coordinate with black.

So here’s my sample list for this summer – hopefully Fall/Winter will be a little more integrated:

  1. sunglasses
  2. beige straw handbag (black wallet doubles as a clutch)
  3. pearl earrings
  4. pearl necklace – 18″
  5. gold 10 mm ball earrings
  6. gold ring with citrine stone
  7. long necklace – gold links with turquoise beads**
  8. black strappy sandals, low heel *
  9. black flats
  10. gold strappy sandals *
  11. white cotton cardigan
  12. black cotton cardigan
  13. black, royal blue & white knit dress***
  14. black & white print short sleeve dress
  15. rose pink dress
  16. black and white print sleeveless blouse
  17. black, white, taupe print tee
  18. white short sweater
  19. kelly green short sweater
  20. bright blue short sweater
  21. coral pink short sweater
  22. red short sweater
  23. pink polo shirt
  24. black skirt
  25. khaki slacks
  26. beige khaki skirt
  27. white skirt***
  28. gray/white floral skirt
  29. blue seersucker skirt
  30. orange madras skirt
  31. denim skirt***
  32. sheer white silk scarf with handpainted design in pink/orange/green
  33. dark wash jeans

*Update – my doctor had me switch to low heels 6/6 since we removed the walking boot. So I replaced these with tan flats and brown topsiders.
**Update – yeah, this necklace hardly matches anything! Switched for neutral clear/black crystal necklace on 6/9.
***Update – wow, I’m actually not wearing all my clothes! Swapped the black, white & blue dress for a long gold necklace with little medallions, my white skirt for a black knit dress, and my denim skirt for black strappy sandals. My leg is almost healed now.

I’m not boxing up my other clothes but I will separate them. I’ll be having them tailored or giving them away soon enough.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone else is participating in Project 333 or what you consider your key wardrobe items to be.

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Let The Shopping Commence!

It’s over! I survived No-Shopping Month.

Yes, I did do some catch-up shopping today online. I bought a dress, a skirt, a few tops, and a pair of shoes. And a scarf. And a song and two audiobooks on iTunes.

So I kinda went nuts. My credit card company will probably call me to check if my card was stolen. But the nice thing is that I know I really want all these things. Most of them were on my wish list for a couple weeks.

Like I said in a previous post, Spring is my all-time favorite shopping season. I usually buy too much and end up returning most of it. I love all the pretty colors this time of year.

But this time, I knew exactly what I wanted, so I didn’t feel guilty (well not TOO much), and could just enjoy it. And that’s what minimalism is about – knowing what you need and will use, and what will just take up space. I don’t think I’ll need to shop again for awhile, now that I’ve got it out of my system!

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