Contributor: Sarah Kolish
My Tips for Beginners: Get Started Living Sustainably!
My journey with sustainability started when I was in highschool and got interested in learning to sew. I had a burning desire to learn the craft, but not in the traditional way. If you’re the type of person who always throws away the directions, I think you’ll relate!
My friends and I would go to the thrift store and buy cheap clothes, then I’d go home and rework my finds under my sewing machine until they fit my style. Ripping and tearing, stitching and seam ripping, no patterns, playing a guessing game through the highly precise art of sewing.
My first upcycle was a pair of Levi shorts. They fit me in the waist, but were way too long for my liking. At $4, I knew they were a steal; a retail expensive name brand and all I had to do was hem them? Oh yeah, I could swing it. I cut them off, flipped up the raw edge and stitched. So easy, and only cost me a few bucks and seconds under my machine. After years of compliments, being asked again and again, where did you get those? and still being a staple in my closet today, those Levi’s are my pride n’ joys (8 years and still going strong!).
Years went by upcycling just for fun, and I finally realised the impact of what I was doing. I was recycling. I was reusing. I was reducing. I wasn’t contributing to one of the highest pollutants in the world – fashion. And it felt amazing!
Fast forward to today- 90% of my closet and homewares are recycled and upcycled, stemming from the thrift store. You might be thinking, how?! Well, it didn’t happen overnight, that’s for sure. It took me years to build my eco-affordable-custom closet and home decor. Since the day I hemmed those Levi’s, I’ve implemented an “upcycled lifestyle” ever since, which has become my passion. I can happily say, it’s saved me thousands of dollars on fashion and home decor.
My desire to reuse, get great deals, recycle, find diamonds in the ruff, and sew to create my own designs are my biggest passions. The most sustainable aspect of my life is definitely my upcycled lifestyle. I’ve found an affordable, gratifying and creative way to live fashionably and sustainably. I’m thankful that upcycling has shed light on other aspects of sustainability I never knew could be so easy to commit to in my everyday life.
One of my main goals for 2019 was to “officially” implement sustainability and minimalism into the rest of my lifestyle. My goals are to stop using disposable plastic at home (and outside as much as possible), reduce what materialistic items I buy, (do I really need it/want it?), stick to minimalist fashion and home design, and along with these, realise what is most important and spend my money on those things or experiences instead.
So, in light of not forgetting our New Years resolutions, I’ve compiled a list of tips for beginners to get started living a sustainable lifestyle in 2019 and beyond.
Downsize Your Life
- Clean out your closet – What haven’t you touched for 6 months? 1 year? Toss it (aka donate/sell)
- Reimagine your old clothes – try upcycling!
- Do you have a lot of things? Take a good look at them. What gives you joy, and what doesn’t? What doesn’t serve any purpose at all and is just contributing to clutter and anxiety? Uncluttering your life will consequently unclutter your mind.
Simply Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
- Welcome this unfading phrase as your mantra. Ask in every situation – what could I reuse, reduce or recycle? Take this one step at a time. Once you have chosen one goal and have been acclimated to that change, move onto a bigger goal.
- Ban plastic/shopping bags. Keep reusable ones in your car/purse at all times. I usually carry my things to my car, it’s not so bad!
- Ban single use plastic – plastic baggies, straws, even plastic cutlery. Invest in wax veggie saver wraps and bamboo paper towels.
- Become versed in what your local recycling plant accepts.
Here’s to a new, eco-you! You’ve got this! A sustainable lifestyle can seem like a big undertaking, but it really doesn’t have to be. I never imagined I would have a wardrobe virtually filled with recycled and up-cycled clothes! I started out unknowing about eco-friendly measures, but over years of learning, effort, and consequently gratification and motivation on being eco-friendly, I’m excited and capable to take my sustainability a step further. I hope my story will give you some motivation to do the same. Just take it one step at a time, and little by little, you’ll end up with a sustainable lifestyle you never thought you could have.