The 90 day challenge!

I was so inspired by the 365 Day Personal Challenge by Christina Dean, Founder of Redress Asia, it had inspired me to attempt this challenge myself.  I initially stumbled across the challenge via Eco-Vintage blog, written by Katie Thomas who herself have some very inspirational posts.  One of the things I have loved during my research into sustainable and ethical clothing is finding these great bloggers and sites that support this movement also, who inspire me even more on a day to day basis.

However, back to my 90 day challenge…I knew, and anyone who knows me would also have an inkling, that this would be an extremely difficult challenge for me.  I am after all a self confessed shopaholic, the proper kind,  however on a mission to reduce my slavery footprint.   After watching the video almost over a week ago however, I still had the message firmly impressed on my mind.

The solution?  I am embarking on a 90 day challenge.  This personal mission is to not shop for 90 days.  The rules: I wear what I have in my wardrobe and can only purchase from second hand stores if necessary. The reason: To reduce my consumption, recycle my current resources and promote sustainable practices through purchasing already manufactured clothes.

I will keep you posted on my progress…this will NO doubt, be one of the biggest challenges for me however I am committed to doing this.

Fast Facts

Approximately 500,000 tons or 1 billion items of clothing are sent to landfill each year – that’s 114,000 per hour and an average of 16 items per year per person. Source: http://www.treehugger.com

Another great initiative

http://prexamples.com/2012/04/ms-and-oxfam-collaborate-to-launch-shwopping-campaign/

http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/marks-spencer-shwopping-camapign.html

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Keep calm & blog on!

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It’s been one year of, consistent, blogging for me. I’ve dabbled in the past. Had one of those livejournal accounts at one time. Tried a blogger account. Even shared a blogger account with my twin sister and shared blogging activity responsibilities.  However, it didn’t quite stick.  But one year on and I’ve maintained my live.love.learn blog and have shared some great personal journeys, experiences, projects and more.

Looking back, I have rustled up the entries that have meant the most to me for 2013.  Looking forward, I am hopeful and excited of what 2014 has to bring.

Some of you may be aware…I used to be a shopaholic!! :/

No but seriously…I had a problem.  You may have seen some of my previous posts outlining the extent of my ‘shopping issue’.  If not, I have included some of those pictures below for your to peruse. Happy judging! Only joking; but I get it, there’s a lot there.

Needless to say, I had a problem.  One of my goals for 2013 was to donate to a charity organisation Made in a Free World. After discovering I had 60 slaves working for me to support my lifestyle, I delved a bit deeper to understand what the modern day term ‘slave’ meant; and to my discovery, yes, it refereed to the forced labour, selling, abuse and exploitation of people, especially children.

Some people probably envision the pre-industrial slave times, (slaves shackled and cotton picking in the fields) and believe we have come a far way since those times.  We haven’t.  If anything it’s worse.  With our access to information to bring awareness, you would think these issues would be abolished from society.  They haven’t.  With the increase of capatilsim and consumerism, these issues have only been exploited more. But am I not here to preach or write a history essay on this; just merely wanted to point out that the word ‘slave’ today, still has similar connotations as it did once before. ward

So for me, I started my little journey of awareness, but also a mission to raise funds to support the organisations attempting to raise awareness and abolish these practices.

I wanted to give you an idea of where I started, where I came from…and how I am trying to improve my actions for the better.  We aren’t all perfect and I dare not be.  But I can definitely try to, at the least, take a conscious effort going forward in supporting the right brands.

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4 phrases I can’t stand right now….

Ever since embarking on my road to recovery (a.k.a stop shopping like a maniac) I have become slightly addicted to making lists. Not lists of grocery items or to-do lists (although I still make those as needed) however lists about myself.

So I have dedicated this blog post, and no doubt future posts, about self reflection and what I’ve learned about myself.  I can’t stand the four phrases below!  And where I always endeavour to keep things positive, I had to make a mention today about these annoying phrases.  Now, I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone who uses these; and perhaps I have just been more attentive over the last few months that I have only started to notice these more and more.  However, I have collated in my mind a few little catch phrases that seem to rub me the wrong way of late.

I noticed these ‘sayings’ coming up during the conversations I was having with certain people and perhaps it was the fact that I kept hearing them regularly, over and over again that it has only now drawn me to this conclusion.   Maybe if I had only heard it once, it really wouldn’t have annoyed me at all…we’ll never know now.  I know certain people say these words as a simple means of conversation or placating; however, not sure if it’s just me again, whilst talking about my d&m issues, the following phrases seemed to trivialise and even patronise my feelings and issues somewhat (just in my opinion.)  But anyhoo…the phrases I can’t stand include:

Don’t stress  – (Well, why thank for that helpful suggestion.  Don’t stress! If only it were that easy.  But clearly, if I am stressed, there would be a reason for it; so perhaps I need to find the solution to the root cause of my stress rather then ‘not stressing’.
Learn from my mistakes – (Why? I need to make my own or I’ll never learn.  And anyway, making mistakes is all about living.  So if I were to ‘learn’ from your mistakes that essentially means I would not be true to myself and carry out the things I want to…in fear of making mistake and rather just take your word for it? No thanks)
It’s much of a muchness – (WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN!?! I was asking someone’s opinion about what I should do about a certain something at work and that was there response?? Thanks for your input Sally)

Epic Fail – (A new phrase that seems to be sweeping the vocabulary of people near and far…this really seems like a phrase that should only be used in comical moments.  Whilst discussing the trial and tribulations of my financial woes…EPIC FAIL…is not a sentiment I wish to respond or relate to?!

And that concludes my list of words/phrases I can’t quite stand at the moment 🙂

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It’s been a while…DIY & Sustainable Choices

Of late, I have actually been busy with a whole range of DIY projects, that blogging has taken a back seat.

I have been so focused on creating, recycled, sustainable clothing options, I haven’t had time for much else. I found a whole range of Indonesian Batik that my mother had saved for…well I am not sure what she was saving 100 meters of fabric for :), but I decided to put it to use and created a range of clothing and notebooks for myself….perhaps I might branch out and make for friends and family!batik2batik

Carrying on with my endeavour to support slavery.org through the culling of my wardrobe, selling and generating funds to donate, I have still a long way from my ‘donation’ goal. However, researching through the net I stumbled across some sites, blogs and pages that have inspired me to plight on.

Ekoluv, a conscious, sustainable and compassionate site, focusing on drawing awareness and encouraging sustainable lifestyles is doing some great things that I hope to aspire to and achieve great things like this one day.

Also a local business on the Gold Coast called, Cool People Live Here, have a great concept where you donate furniture where they recycle and turn into new pieces of art to appreciate and of course buy…hence minimising everyone’s waste and consumption.

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I am always on the lookout for business, sites and ideas like this to inspire me and my mind has been busily ticking with concepts of my own that I hope to craft, develop and evolve into reality.

Thirfting 101

thrift-shop1Of late, I have been quite vigilant not spending unless I need to…which going by wardrobe size…is never.

However, I have still been indulging in my love for op-shopping, thrift shopping, vintage shopping…whatever you want to call it. I am not sure why or what it is but I love it. The thrill of the chase, that hunt for a bargain, finding that rare gem…I love it. I get a little thrill, every time, just before I enter a 2nd hand store. I instantly think about what little treasure or goodie is waiting for me to uncover.

So in light of this, I have decided to post some of the tips I have learned over the years to help turn your thrift shopping experience into a success.

Inspiration
Have some ideas in mind of what you are looking for. For novice thrifters, until you develop an eye for it, going into a 2nd hand store can be quite overwhelming due to the sheer volume and unfamiliarity.

So to avoid this, if you are looking at working on a DIY project, think about the specifics of your project before you head off, to give you have an idea of what type of item you may need. For example, have a think about what fabric will work best for your project. If you are looking at DIY tie dye, cotton is best for this project. So when searching for possible garments to work with, avoid polyester or synthetic fabrics.

Overall Quality
The next key aspect is overall quality. Unless you find an absolute rare find you’d be willing to invest in, avoid items that require considerable prep and mending.

Look at pockets, seams, colour, stains, does the zip work? You’re buying a pre-loved item that is several years old, don’t let it age even more before you decide to fix it and wear it.

I’ve learned that if I haven’t gotten to fixing that broken item by the 2nd month…donate it back to lifeline as you’ll never wear it.

Repairs
Again, you bought a $10 top…do you want to spend 10 hours or $30 altering it? Unless it is an absolute rare find, you may need to weigh up the time and cost to repair; and if it’s worth it.

Simple hemming and button repair is easy. Weigh up the cost and be prepared to spend if you can’t sew or haven’t the time.

Watch for Sizes

Another thing I learned is that sizes vary considerably when shopping second hand and vintage.  Some local stores I frequent categorise their clothing in standard Australian women’s sizing.  However, the accepted women’s standard size has reduced dramatically over the years.  I am an AU10 however have a size 14 fitted skirt from a vintage Australian label.  So don’t take sizing for face value, especially if it is pre 1990.

Get to know a bargain buy

Back in the day before second hand thrift shopping was ”in”, you could snap up a pair of jeans of blouse for next to nothing.  Now, some good quality items range from $5-$15.  So get to know a good bargain.  If you find a Best n Less top for $5, it may not be such a great buy since you could probably get it brand new for that price.  However, if you find a pre-loved pair of sass and bide jeans…well that’s another story.

I used to get so excited when I found a clean, non moth ridden item of clothing, I would buy it.  I ended up with so many clothes that I just didn’t need.  Contrary to majority belief, second hand stores are quite selective on their donations and will only accept moderately good items, so in saying that, most of the items you find ‘will’ be good quality generally speaking, so try to find another selection criteria other than ‘in good nic’.    It may be a charity however there are still levels of quality that even a charity will strive for.

Dress Appropriately

Remember, when you’re going to second hand stores, they may be located within cheap rent spaces most of the time.  This doesn’t mean unclean however it may mean limited fitting rooms and ‘space’ in general. So be prepared to wait long periods of time if you want to try on your bargain finds within a fitting room.  My solution I learned long ago was to dress prepared.  I tend to wear leggings and a long, slightly relaxed tank dress, with easy to remove, slip on shoes.

Trying on most clothing items should be an ease whilst wearing my outfit and removed the need to head into a change room.  All I needed was a mirror.

Shoes
I’ve always been a little weary with shoes. Mainly because I am a little bit of a germaphobe and have trouble getting my head around putting my feet into someone else’s pre loved, worn, sweaty shoes. In saying that, I have found some great 2nd shoes that required minimal restoration. images (14)

Look at the insides of the shoes and see if it is easy to clean and disinfect. Is the inner shoe peeling or gaping?

Check the sole and ensure there is still some good traction and also that it’s still relatively attached to the main part of the shoe? Re-heeling or re-soleling is very expensive. Unless you’ve hunted down a pair of vintage YSL sandals…I wouldn’t be investing in shoes you need to take to a cobbler.

Try it on? Just a little tip, I always have a couple spare pairs of sockets in my car glove compartment, just in case I drive past an enticing op-shop and find some shoes I want to try on. Of course if you’re not a germ freak like me, try on at free will.

When trying in, walk around a little and see if it still wears well and fits well.

images (15)Location
Again if you are after a particular item think of the location and demographics of the second hand store you are visiting. This will have an impact on the type of clothes available.  It’s not just about the nicer the location the better the quality…think about the general lifestyle and culture.

For example, if I am looking for more modern clothes, I head to my preferred store in the hustle and bustle of Surfers Paradise. For more vintage items, I visit a store that is within very close distance of local retirement and elderly leisure homes. And for a general variety of options I visit my local, head distribution centers.

Research your surrounding areas and this brings us back to the first point…if you have an idea of what you are looking for, it may guide which location you visit.

Be patient
Like I said, I have a love for second hand shopping. With this, I have patience to spend time in these stores to locate a lost treasure.

There are times when I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot of vintage clothes and then there are times when I feel like every, single fashionista in town has caught on to my love of op-shopping and stolen all the clothes.

It’s hit and miss. So I view this as a hobby at times. If I desperately need an outfit for an event and I have limited time, I may skip the 2nd hand shops and head to an actual department store.

Plan, plan, plan and don’t leave things to the last minute and don’t get frustrated when you don’t find anything.

And that is all of my helpful (I hope) tips and hints on how to successfully rummage, bargain find, peruse your local vintage stores.

Have fun and keep an eye out for my next post covering all my latest finds! Very exciting!

Replacing one addiction with another?

I have read in many self help books about addiction, that when you try to battle the demons of one addiction, you can sometimes replace them with another to fill the ‘void’.

Mainly this is also due the the fact that a lot of addicts have what is know as ‘addictive personalities.’

I understand that for me…understanding why I shopped to extreme levels, will help me close that ‘void’ for good however in the meantime, I am certain that I DO NOT want to to pick up another nasty habit.

Now to be honest with you all…I really don’t think I will ever turn to other addictions. Ironically, although I consume copious amounts of chocolate, I am too health conscious of the bad affects of alcohol to ever turn to alcohol. However, after much deliberation…I have compiled a list of ‘Habits’ that I am willing to pick up in order to replace my shopping one.

Habits I’d be happy to take on board

1. Compulsive Cleaning (everyone loves a shiny, febreeze smelling house)

2. Excessive saving (for the purpose of a holiday or any other than clothing)

3. Workaholic (the productive kind…not the burn out and die kind)

4. Gym addict (work that gluteus maximus)

5. DIY Projects (why not recycle and refashion my 1 million items of clothes)

6. Charity (donate my time and funds to good causes instead of my closet)

Side Note: Please understand…everything I write is a reflection of what I am going through and my beliefs. I am not an advocate. I am not some self help guru out there trying to actively help others with my words. I started this blog for myself. To reflect. Originally, I made it anonymous, then I used an alias. However, I didn’t want to hide or lie any more. So now I write this blog as me and it is about my life and my thoughts. If you don’t agree with it…move on because I never claimed to be an expert in addiction however this is my story.