Ladies and gents, on a recent Netflix binge, I found myself totally and completely absorbed in the documentary, "Minimalism." I was taking a hot bubble bath while watching it and when I got out and went over to SB's house for dinner, we watched it again (ironic?). This documentary couldn't have come into my life at a better time. While I don't often talk about mental illness here, depression and anxiety have been influential in my life and have been gaining more power over me lately than I really like to publicly admit.
Anyway, the premise of the documentary is that 5 years ago, these two pals were working fabulous jobs, had 6-figure incomes, luxury cars, and big houses full of stuff, but were totally miserable. One of them discovered minimalism, shared it with the other and then both of them started to downsize. This snowballed into a blog that turned into social media outlets that turned into several books that turned into a documentary and a podcast and lots of long tours and now these dudes are much happier living a more intentional life.
Now that I've binged on the documentary several times, I've gotten into the podcast and started doing some research of my own. As it turns out, there is not just one form of minimalism, but many different recipes that will look different for each person who has a go at it. I've written here, quite often, that I've always wavered between making sustainable choices and going on mad binges of mass consumption. When I worked retail, I inevitably got caught up in fast fashion, just as I did when : the daily savant : started gaining attention from wholesalers.
I grew up with parents who liked to consume things. They still like to consume things. When I went home for Christmas, my mum was often encouraging me to buy things while shopping in downtown Chicago. Heck, when I moved out of her house and into my own apartment, I'd planned to get everything I "needed" second-hand, but she ended up totally furnishing my apartment with all new goods. My dad is similar. I'm always trying to watch my budget, but if we're wandering around the California coast and he sees that something in a boutique has caught my eye, it often finds its way into my suitcase or mailbox in the near future. I love them, but gosh do they make the minimalist/sustainable lifestyle a bit tricky.
That being said, I go back to this minimalism concept. Since moving into my tiny apartment, I've had to get rid of lots of stuff. There is simply nowhere to store it all. My dresser drawers are full, the space under my bed (which feng shui proponents would be ashamed to note) is where I store my shoes and other goods that can't find a home anywhere else. The shelves of my closet are stuffed, as is the floor space under my clothing. The outdoor closet where my hot water heater resides is also packed with boxes of grade-school work, family photos, and that stuff that I just can't bear to part with.
But, even according to minimalism, this is ok. I have done some extensive house cleaning since watching the documentary (and made some extra cash selling off the things that I just haven't been using), but minimalism says that you should use the items that bring function or joy to your life.
That being said, I'll step off of my soapbox to talk sustainable fashion. I've already shared these items and brands here, but I figured that since I was talking about holding onto items that gave joy, I may as well tie back into these (what I consider) wardrobe staples. Most gals love a good handbag. As a traveler, I'm always looking for ways to stylishly, safely and comfortably transport the essentials along with me on my adventures and so, I decided to round up a few of my sustainable favorites!
^ This is the Gloria tote from Manos Zapotecas. After owning this bag for a year, I stand firm on my belief that it is a piece of wearable art. This bag was hand-woven using traditional Mexican Zapotec methods, on a bi-pedal treadle loom. The leatherwork is done locally and then sent back to MZ so that the weavers can complete each bag by hand. The people making these bags are paid a fair living wage, which helps to sustain the small village community in which these bags are made. The Gloria tote is incredibly durable and has followed me to the beach, into the desert, on airplanes, and to work, all with equal measures of style. This is one that I'll be holding onto for a LONG time to come!
^ This sweet little pouch is a product of The Tote Project, a company driven by the need to help survivors of human trafficking become empowered and rise beyond the challenges set before them. Each bag in their shop has been hand sewn in India by a woman who has chosen to leave the sex trade. Each bag is lined with up-cycled sari fabric, given a braided tassel also made from up-cycled sari fabric and is emblazoned with a positive message. 20% of all proceeds from each purchase goes directly to Two Wings, a US-based charity that helps victims of human trafficking reach their dreams.
^ This fringed gem from Ixchel Triangle makes me happy. This bag was hand-made with ethically-sourced leather and the emblem was hand-beaded. This bag is durable, has adjustable straps and is great for travel. This backpack is kind of an out-lier for Ixchel Triangle, who is largely known for up-cycling traditional Mayan huipils into handbags. Each product turned out by the brand is handmade by local artists who are paid above market wages. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from each purchase go directly to the artisans!
^ This adorable patchwork tote from Better Life Bags is a favourite for me in the spring and summer. The bright colours are perfect for the seasons. This brand is based in Detroit, Michigan and gives jobs to women who have various barriers to other forms of employment. These women are taught to sew and learn to create both ready-to-ship bags and custom designs. I've chosen to include this brand in my #SustainableSunday roundup because this is a company that gives back to the community and helps people jump over the many hurdles of life.