Minimize Your Fashion Footprint

Challenge Consumerism While Supporting Personal & Community Values

The teen- and tween-age years can often bring with them a deluge of clothing-driven creativity and expression of personality, often continuing with us into parenthood! In turning outward appearance into an accurate portrayal of the inner self, some teens and tweens may find themselves wanting to fill their closets with endless styles, patterns, and sizes. While fulfilling their desire to express themselves is important, there is also much to be learned from taking a more minimalist approach to fashion – one that requires fewer possessions encourages less consumption and poses an interesting challenge to clothing creativity.

To encourage a minimalistic approach to your wardrobe, teens and parents alike can take inspiration from Project 333, an initiative that supports people in scaling back their wardrobes so as to consume less and show off their own unique style even more! Project 333 challenges participants to create a capsule wardrobe – a collection of clothing that is small yet offers variety and reflects the wearer’s favorite pieces and styles without closet crowding. In order to take on the project, participants choose 33 articles of clothing and accessories to get them through a 3-month period of time. Pairs of shoes, backpacks, and jewelry all count as items, aside from things that are never removed like piercings, wedding rings, sentimental necklaces, or certain earrings. Once 33 items are chosen, all other items are boxed up and put away until the three months have ended – the time when you’ll reassess and start over again.

While a Project 333-inspired wardrobe limits a fashion-conscious teen or tween’s clothing options, it also challenges them to really think about what items are important to them and how many items they really need. Instead of having many versions of the same few favorite items, choose one of each and save both closet space and clothing selecting time. Look at     Project 333 encourages a minimalist approach that throws down the gauntlet challenging us to dress with 33 items for a period of 3 months. It slims down the closet and cuts back on consumerism while finding the essence of your style! for examples of capsule wardrobes that fit the project’s model, yet offer lots of variety and personality. There are endless graphics that detail how to be unique while sticking to a small number of items.

DONATING

When the time comes to reassess the three-month collection, you and your teens may look at their stored-away clothes and realize that not only do they not want to include them in their next rotation, but they don’t even miss them at all! So – when it comes time to clean out the back of the closet, think carefully about what to do with your extras. Of course, bagging them up and bringing them to a local non-profit such as a survival center or Goodwill store is always an option, extra clothes present a unique opportunity to switch up your wardrobe. Chances are, many of your child’s friends (and your own friends!) have lots of extra clothes, too. Organize a clothing swap so that you can all share your extras, and donate what’s left after you’ve all gotten some great new pieces. This way, you’ll add some new-to-you stuff to your closet without having to participate in any consumerist behavior – and your leftovers will benefit a local charity.

CONSIGNMENT

Teens who have used their own money to buy some of their clothes may have difficulty parting with them since they represent an investment that they’ve made. Consigning clothes can lessen the frustration of losing hard-earned (or long-saved) money in the form of clothes, and there are lots of consignment shops all over western Massachusetts that welcome families’ gently used and seasonally appropriate clothes. Hilltown Families’ readers offer suggestions for local consignments shops in our Q&A post, “11 Suggestions on How Western MA Families Can Make Wise Back-to-School Purchases.

COLLABORATIVE CONSUMPTION

Get social too! Inviting your friends to participate can help teens become more aware of the fashion industry and sustainable clothing choices. Start a clothing exchange with friends, pooling your resources and purchasing accessories and garments that are handmade by local artisans with upcycled and sustainable textiles. Then at the end of a 3-month period, swap! This type of collaborative consumption leads to valuable learning opportunities through participation in a sustainable (and fun!) lifestyle.

TAKE ACTION

Donating, swapping, sharing and making thoughtful purchases can be integrated with participation in Project 333. If you want to delve further, Fashion Takes Action, a Canadian advocacy group, has a great website to discover how to reduce your “fashion footprint.” Check them out at www.fashiontakesaction.com.

Want to organize a clothing drive to support affordable second-hand clothing markets,  in both North America and abroad, while raising money for your school? Check out www.bag2schoolfundraising.com.

[Photo credit: (cc) dave]

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