“Love People. Use Things. The opposite never works” – The Minimalists

I love New Year, it’s a great time to reflect on the year you have had, what you have learned & start putting some goals into place for the up & coming year. Last year has been an interesting one for me to say the least. In November 2017 after learning about sweat shop factory conditions & coming to a realization that my constant ‘want’ for material items such as clothes was extremely unhealthy, I made the decision to abstain from buying anything new clothes for the whole of 2017. Swapping my designer shoes for a backpack, I used some of the money I would have usually spent on over the top clothes shopping hauls to travel to India & Ghana to visit Fair Trade clothing factories instead. My year has been life changing, although a little over whelming at times, I am entering the New Year with a new mind-set, new goals & a new view on life.

I do appreciate that a year is a long time, & might not suit everyone, but I highly recommend that everyone challenges themselves to not add to their wardrobe for a set period of time. Over the course of the year, I learned a lot about myself, I could go on for ages about how life changing the trips were, however here are the 4 main lessons I wanted to share;

  1. You don’t need the latest clothes to be happy

You don’t – literally. When I think back to my trips to India & Ghana, the garment factory workers & volunteers were legit the happiest people I have met during my travels. One night I stayed with a family of one of the workers in his family home (watch here.) The house was simple & there wasn’t a lot of material items, certainly no wardrobe full of the latest trends! But my time there was unforgettable, being up in the Himalayas surrounded by nature & not much else. I will never forget how happy I was that night eating dinner with the family who hosted me, which I did in my sweat bottoms & an old out of shape, oversized sweater! This inspiring family lived a very simple life compared to me & are were happier than a lot of people I know.

  1. The people around you don’t care if you wear the same thing twice

Literally no one, hate to break it to you BUT NO ONE CARES. Due to my clothes purchase restrictions I become obsessed with one particular black off shoulder dress which I wore to a number of lunches & dinners (it really saved my ass) with friends throughout the course of the year. The last time I wore it a friend turned to me & said, ‘I love it when you wear that dress, it really suits you!’. I realised then that the desire to want something new to wear everything single time you go out is a little sad & totally unnecessary if you have a closet full of items that you love. Also the whole ‘omg I can’t wear this again there are already pictures of me wearing it on Facebook’ thing – sad. If you like something & you feel good when you wear it, why wouldn’t you wear it again & again? In the words of Orsola de Castro (an authority in sustainable fashion) ‘The concept of wearing something just once is sad. It indicates a lack of style, confidence, and it misses the point of what fashion is about.’

    3. Life is about experiences not things

If you closed your eyes right now & think back to a particular time or moment in your life when you were bursting with happiness, what would that moment be? I very much doubt it would be handing over your credit card at a counter to buy a new pair of shoes or opening a parcel of clothes from a recent online shopping spree. The things that really make life worth living are experiences & moments we share with loved ones. A year out from clothes shopping heightened my appreciation for these moments & taught me what really was important.

  1. You will fall in love with & learn to respect the clothes you already have

Not being able to buy clothes for a year made me really appreciate the clothes that were already hanging up in my closet. I have lost count of times I have worn a particular grey turtleneck jumper, simply because I love how it fits me. The year before last, I can count on one hand only the amount of times I had worn it. I also found I took much better care of my clothes, storing everything away neatly & safely, knowing that if my precious turtleneck got ruined, I would be screwed big time. We should handle all of our possessions this way regardless of whether we can replace them or not, it gives you a deeper sense of gratitude & appreciation for what you have in your closet. I had so many ‘oh thank f*ck this is clean’ moments last year!!

Like I said, I know an entire year might not be for everyone, but 100% everyone should challenge themselves to cut back on their unnecessary clothes purchasing. Fast fashion is not just killing out planet, but it is killing people too. To see more about my trips to India & Ghana check out my vlogs here

Oh & Happy New Year! Jess xox

Picture: Meet Goongoon, the eldest daughter of Bittu who is a garment worker at The Visible Factory in India who’s house I stayed at during my time in India. Because her father works for a Fair Trade employer she has the a chance to receive great education, has a roof over her head & doesn’t go to bed hungry. Your choices matter.