Minimalist May: Week 1

Week 1: The Inventory

Melanie Chanona, Common Energy member

So far so good! Although I can easily admit that it was pretty tricky at first to get to 33… I managed to pick 38 items without too much trouble, but it was a real challenge to scratch the final five! But, I bit the bullet and managed to stash away 1 more scarf, 1 pair of jeans, 1 belt, 1 tank top, and 1 pair of shoes. The good news is I haven’t missed anything so far! It’s also kind of nice to just look at one shelf of clothing for all your options. What I found most intimidating is actually going through all my closets/drawers and doing a complete inventory of all my clothing. Even though we have a specific goal for May, I figured it was as good a time as ever to throw everything I own onto my bed (see pic). To say the least – I was a little overwhelmed! (although I think my pup enjoyed nesting in the middle :)). After totalling it all up, I came to 192 items (see pic). And that’s coming from a person who really didn’t think they had a lot of clothes, and someone who goes shopping barely once a year.

All the clothes I own piled on my bed, plus a very happy dog.

From this process, some stand out items were: 11 baggy t-shirts (although I rock climb about 2 or 3x a week, and do not usually come out smelling like roses, this still felt a little embarrassingly excessive!), 8 bracelets (I can’t remember the last time I wore a bracelet), 4 pairs of heels (do I even know how to walk in heels??), and 11 scarves (okay, I do in fact really like wearing scarves…all the time…).

Things I will not miss.

On the bright side, I really enjoyed looking through everything and realizing how much I could pare down with minimal effort. I was quickly able to make a sizeable pile of stuff I was sure I would not miss (see pic). Then, I made another list (I’m a little addicted to making lists…), and was able to come up with my first attempt at an ideal “pare down number” based on what I think I really need. Encouragingly this reduced my current total by over half! While yes, 90 is still very far from 33 if I wanted to make a permanent capsule wardrobe switch, I believe there’s nothing wrong with baby steps 🙂

My 33 items!!

So – here is my final lists for the month of May!
1 – rain jacket
1 – leather jacket
1 – light jacket (to go with dresses, etc)
1 – sweatshirt
4 – t-shirts
4 – longsleeves
5 – tank tops
1 – shrug
3 – dresses (2 casual, 1 professional)
2 – jeans
3 – shorts (2 short, 1 long)
1 – skirt
3 – “accessories” (1 scarf, 2 necklaces)
3 – shoes (birkenstocks, fancy sandals, boots)

I did say I love making lists….

I Forgot About the Rain….

Ana Gargollo, Common Energy Director 2016/2017

Week 1 has flown by! The hardest part of the challenge was definitely deciding what to keep and what to store away; the rest has been easier than I thought. I found that I’m having an easier time getting ready in the mornings and choosing an outfit, since my choices are so limited and I like every one of them. While I can be a mess sometimes and just pile my clothes on a chair, this week I found myself actually putting everything away right after I used it. It simply seems less daunting to put things away, as there are only three places for my clothes to go: my 1 shelf, 5 hangers or the laundry basket.

Speaking of laundry, that is one thing I struggled with. I usually put it off as much as possible and have clothes to last me one month. With only 33 items, however, I am running out of clothes sooner. This has made me think about the overall impact of this project and, in turn, a minimalist lifestyle. If I were to live like this all the time, I would need less and buy less, but I would wear and wash the clothes that I did have more often. This would not only mean more water, energy and detergent, but also my clothes getting older and getting to their useful end sooner. I’ll definitely be doing more research into this!

When I was choosing my 33 items, I spent hours going through my closet and thought I considered everything from weather to choice. Turns out, I forgot about the rain and the fact that I now work at the UBC Farm and will be outdoors a lot. The day of my orientation, I woke up to relentless rain and knew it would not stop. I decided to wear my hiking boots (which were technically in my list) and the raincoat and jacket I had put aside. To my surprise, my raincoat isn’t as waterproof as I thought and my jacket not as warm; I was soaked to the bone the whole day. I was too optimistic about the weather and forgot how easily I get cold; I’ve been wearing like three sweaters everyday. When I got home, I decided to exchange the flats that I had yet to use for my black boots and my thin jacket for a heavier one. Although I only used the thin jacket one week, I’ll find something else to exchange it with.


Thin jacket and flats on top, exchanged for warmer jacket and boots.

George Radner is also doing this challenge and took a different approach. He did not lay out his 33 items, but rather adds to them every day. He is very mindful about his outfit choices in the morning, and will stop choosing new things when he reaches 33. I will adjust my strategy to match his a bit more. I realized I can’t plan ahead for a month, so if I need to add anything, I’ll just exchange it for something I haven’t worn yet, like the boots for the flats.

I’m excited to see what week 2 has in store for us!

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