Is Overconsumption serving me? (or you)

Is Overconsumption serving me? (or you)

I am moving. I have only lived in my current home for 7 years but seem to have acquired plenty of items in that time. I am not a huge shopper but somehow my count of jeans in my closet has upped to 6 pair of regular denim and 2 pair of other colored denim. I bought 3 of the 8 pair retail and the others are thrifted. They all fit me but I think the move is a good time to downsize to just 2 pair of denim and maybe the colored denim.

Now let’s move on to the cream colored shirts – sleeveless and sleeved and tanks- I’m embarrassed to say I have 13. I’m sure it would be safe to cut that back to 2 sleeveless, 2 short sleeve and 2 long sleeve without too much deprivation.
How does this happen? For me it happened by not having a plan. By letting my mind create the thought that I didn’t have the time and money to buy clothes, I created a result of not having a shopping plan for those times when I did find myself with extra time in a store that sells clothes. Thus 8 pair of jeans and lucky 13 cream colored shirts.

For some people pointless shopping and finding a “bargain” fills a hole that could be filled by more mind invigorating and emotional pursuits. Clothes and shopping are not my crutch but food is. For years I have relied on food (and drink) whenever I didn’t want to feel discomfort. This over consumption has created excess pounds and wasted time as well as lost opportunity.

Not having a plan and letting my thoughts rule me instead of me ruling my thoughts has created an uncomfortable abundance of things I don’t need and a body that is a little more than I need. It was an uncomfortable but exhilarating realization that I was not in control of my thoughts and they were creating my results. Uncomfortable because I didn’t see how I lived this long without knowing but exhilarating because I am now aware of my thoughts and can consciously change them to be supportive instead of harmful. I am working to create a conscious life with purposeful instead of thoughtless actions.

Your thoughts create your feelings -create your actions -create your results. Time for me to have a mind shift about my own closet. Instead of the scarcity thought that I can’t get rid of something that fits and the fear that I will regret getting rid of it (maybe destined to have the one I keep get a red wine spill?), I am going to look at the abundant thought that I am creating much more room in my life and closet for other things and ideas. I know I won’t be bringing those extra jeans to my new home. Now I just hae to decide which ones to keep. Hmmm. Once I tackle that hurdle what’s next? Maybe my computer folders then on to the garage…….

Overconsumption and holding on to excess is not serving me. Is it serving you? What is your experience with excess? Please share!
If you need help creating a more minimalist life I can help. We will begin by evaluating your activities and clothing needs and then looking at how much is enough. It helps to have a guide when letting go.

Fall dyeing in Northern Michigan

Fall dyeing in Northern Michigan

This the season for fall colors. As I spent two weeks recently in Northern Michigan with time on my hands I pondered what new activity to try. Every ditch was overflowing with purple and yellow flowers.

Photo to show Joe Pye weed

A flower from the abundant Joe Pye weed near my father’s house

There were fall leaves starting to turn and red sumac berries and purple wild grapes everywhere. Maybe this was the time to try dying with natural materials.There are many good websites to research this subject and I browsed them all.I knew I didn’t want to use any mordants (the material that binds color to fabric) that were harmful to the environment or me since that is exactly what I was experimenting to avoid. I discovered that alum and cream of tartar (sold at the grocery store and used as a food ingredient) would work for my experiment and it wouldn’t take much.
I found two large pans and filled them with enough water to cover the fabric in one and to cover smashed down plant material in the other.

Shows the plant being boiled to produce dye

Plant material is steaming away

Fabric in water with mordant

Fabric in mordant

I bought a couple yards of 100 percent cotton muslin and split it into three pieces. In one I put a teaspoon of alum, 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar and one of the fabric pieces.In the other pot I put my gathered plant material. My first experiment used Joe pye weed. I had read this lovely purple flower would actually make green dye but I went ahead anyway. I gently boiled the fabric and the plant material in their separate pots for about 90 minutes. Then I turned everything off and went to bed. In the morning I ran the water wit the plant material through a cheesecloth covered sieve (actually in tis case my sieve was an old curtain I found in a cupboard). I put the fabric in this water which was now green and boiled gently for another hour. I stirred occasionally and then let it sit for several more hours. I poured off the water and rinsed the fabric with more water until the water didn’t have color in it. I had a nice light green fabric color. I hung it to dry and then repeated the process with the goldenrod and was delighted with the pale yellow result.At that point I thought I was done but then discovered two quart jars of dried sour cherries that were way past the period of safe eating so I poured those in and started the same process again. The result was a subtle red brown.

Bucket of Natural Dye

Bucket of Natural Dye

Not what I was hoping for but the drying process and age may have removed some color.I will try it again because it was an interesting process. When you go through this exercise you can see how dyeing fabric has he potential to be a toxic and water intensive process.Some companies in the industry use dyes and mordants which are toxic. There is a history of leftover dye water being dumped straight back into the environment without treatment.Thoughtful companies today are making an effort to use less toxic chemicals and reuse water and dyes. The way our clothes and home goods get their color is yet another elephant in the room that needs to be considered and addressed for the textile industry to be sustainable.As consumers we can do our part by buying only what we need, seeking out responsible color production and keeping our clothes in good shape for as long as possible.

Be Happy and Share it

I am writing this today to help me get over the sick powerless feeling I sometimes have as yet more people’s lives and joy are taken by random senseless acts by people who must have lost all hope.

How will you react? How will I react? I could choose to stay home, lock my doors and arm myself but that would not bring anything to me or the world except more fear and hate. Instead I choose to open my heart more than I have been to promote as much good as I can while I can. How you feel effects how those around you feel.

I am going to take a moment today and every day to love myself and make myself happy so that I can share it with the world. And maybe cry for a little bit as well.

How do you do your part?

How do you do your part?

By now you must be aware of the cost fashion can impose on the environment and workers in the fashion industry. Or maybe you thought it was all “fixed”.  Things have improved. You now have choices about how and where your clothing was made and who made it. Yet fashion is still an industry that is about churning out more because stockholders and everyone employed needs to make money.

 I’m not sure what would happen to the economy if consumers began buying less items of a higher quality that are made or refashioned locally. There would probably be some turmoil if it happened all at once. I do think if we all start to make better and more thoughtful choices companies will respond with less and better quality product and hopefully higher worker pay. It may cut off my flow of thrift store finds because now everyone has things they love, that fit them well and they aren’t shopping for entertainment anymore which would result in less to get rid of.

I tend to take the easy way out and shop thrift and consignment stores. I am also the one that picks up fabric and sewing notions from thrift and fellow seamstress give a ways.

How do you make sure your clothing is a responsible choice?

Life’s too short

Life’s too short

Ever told yourself I’ll get myself nice clothes when I lose weight? Have more time? Have more money?

That is delaying and excusing and putting off happiness. I know because I have used all of them. There was a store in downtown Seattle called Thomas Teifer. I walked past it for 20+ years always telling myself I would buy an outfit there as a reward when I reached my ideal weight. Well guess what? My weight hasn’t changed in 20 years and now the store is closed. What kind of message was I giving myself? That I’m not worthy until I’m thin? That I can’t be happy till I’m thin.  Where did that come from?

Those messages are given to us subliminally and overtly every day. They come from within and without and it is important they don’t get stuck in our head. Because life is too short to tell ourselves that we can’t be happy till we reach our end goal. The journey is the game. Be happy now and don’t wear boring clothes (unless you really want to).

What have you delayed knowingly or unknowingly in your life until it was too late? Enjoy the journey. We’re all going to the same place in the end may as well have some fun on the way.

Here are two places to get ideas to avoid the  boring clothes conundrum.

Thanksgiving jumpsuit by The Outfit Repeater

London Menswear

Set up a time now to discuss how to get rid of your boring clothes