Since announcing the #NothingNewNovember challenge back at the end of October, I have posted periodic updates on my Instagram account about my progress through the challenge. But I realized that I haven’t posted any updates here on the blog. This post will summarize my experience with the challenge and my final reflections!
#NothingNewNovember is a campaign by nonprofit Redress Raleigh that encourages people to buy no new clothes in the month of November. Shopping less is a way to live more sustainably, as less consumption means less strain on the environment!
*Technically* I did end up breaking the rules of the challenge (more on that in a second). But overall, I did a really good job!
Obviously, it’s not actually THAT hard to not buy clothes for a month. That is such a short span of time in the big scheme of things. However, picking November specifically proved to be difficult. With colder weather came the realization that perhaps there are some winter wardrobe items that I’m wanting, but I resisted the urge to go shopping anyway. November also happens to be the month containing Black Friday, when clothing sales (including sales for sustainable and ethically made brands) abound. It’s hard to say no to sales, especially sales by do-good clothing companies that rarely offer discounts!
I started out the month with my sister’s wedding. Obviously, I had purchased a bridesmaid dress for her wedding several months prior. I honestly hadn’t given much thought to my outfits for the rest of the wedding weekend events until November rolled around. I used to be someone who purchased a new outfit for any “big” or “nice” occasion. My knee jerk reaction the week before my sister’s wedding was to head out shopping to find something new, trendy, and fun to wear to her rehearsal dinner. But, I stuck to my #NothingNewNovember guns and shopped my closet instead.
I actually ended up putting together an outfit combo I had never before thought to put together. The rehearsal dinner was casual, but I wanted to wear something a bit nicer than jeans. The rehearsal itself was outside in cold temperatures, so I knew it needed to be a warm outfit. I threw on a long sleeve cardigan over a cute emerald green dress and finished the outfit off with tights and booties. I rarely get creative with my closet (typically I just pull out a single top and pants), so I was excited that I had come up with a fun layering idea.
The next few weeks passed rather uneventfully. I was easily able to pull existing tops and pants from my closet for work, exercise classes, and social outings.
The rule violation occurred the week before Thanksgiving. I had done a big closet clean out and took clothes to be consigned at my one of my favorite consignment stores. While the staff sorted through my clothes, I happened to notice a couple of pairs of pants in my size. I have been looking for non-jean pants for at least a year now. I am often able to wear jeans to work, but sometimes I need to dress up just a tad more, or I have a non-work function that requires a step up from jeans. I have been limping along with just two pairs of non-jean pants for the past couple of years and truly could use a few more pairs. I have been searching at consignment stores but just hadn’t found the right pair that fit well (I am often tough to fit because a) I’m picky about fit and b) I have somewhat odd proportions). While it would have been easy to run out to a fast fashion store when I didn’t immediately find non-jean pants in my size at consignment stores, I held off, telling myself it was better to wait a bit for a more sustainable option.
So, when I saw those non-jean pants in my size at the consignment shop, I couldn’t believe my luck. Then, I remembered I was participating in #NothingNewNovember. I debated about what to do.
On the one hand, I didn’t want to break the rules. On the other hand, I felt I was still keeping with the spirit of #NothingNewNovember by purchasing this sustainable option. I had delayed gratification for a year by searching for a sustainable consignment pair of pants. Plus, it was something I really needed and was going to buy…did it matter if I bought them in November versus December? If I had found them just a couple of weeks earlier, I would have already purchased them.
I didn’t think delaying the purchase until December was a good idea since this was a consignment store. Each garment there is unique, and someone could walk in 20 minutes after me and buy those pants, and they’d be gone. I likely wouldn’t be able to buy them once December 1 rolled around, and then I’d be back to desperately searching for pants.
Ultimately, I decided that if I tried on the pants and any of them fit, I would go ahead and buy them. Sure enough, one pair ended up fitting perfectly and being exactly what I wanted. I decided it was a sustainable purchasing decision that justified breaking the rules of #NothingNewNovember. I handed over my credit card.
Karma came to wreak havok on me just a couple of days later. I washed the pants, which are a deep berry color, with a load of other delicates, including most of my husband’s work wardrobe.
When I opened the lid of the washing machine after it ran, I was horrified to discover that the beautiful berry-colored dye had stained all of the other clothes in the wash splotchy pink. #NothingNewNovember karma for breaking the challenge rules!
Thankfully, after increasingly desperate attempts to de-pink the clothes, I have been able to save everything except for one shirt!
Of course, a few days later temptation rose again as Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale emails flooded my inbox. I honestly tried to avoid looking at sales as much as possible, because I knew I’d see great deals on items I liked. But, I knew there was nothing I really needed or had to have at that moment, and I was determined not to stray from the rules again after the purple pants incident.
And just like that, November came to an end! Technically I did buy a new-to-me pair of pants, but I don’t regret the purchase (despite the washing machine incident) since they were something I shopped for sustainably. After all, sustainability is the ultimate goal of the challenge.
Doing no-shop challenges like this are really good for me overall. It helps to remind me that I already have pretty much everything I need right in my closet. It helped me get creative juices flowing to come up with outfits rather than buy new ones, and it helped me discover new clothing combinations using pieces I already have.
Even if you didn’t participate in #NothingNewNovember, I highly recommend picking some other month (or maybe even a couple of months, or a year!) and challenge yourself not to buy any new clothing. It’s so good for teaching us contentment, gratitude for what we have, and perspective on what it is that we really need.