We’re on an epic around-the-world adventure showcasing stories of people doing incredible work in sustainability and conservation (have a read here). We’ll be travelling for 6 months through 4 continents including Europe, North America, South America and Africa. If this isn’t (or is!) your first time visiting Sustainable Jungle, then it goes without saying that we’re clearly passionate about living more sustainably! And a major part of trying to live more sustainably is being aware of what we own, which for us, often feels like too much. Thankfully, there’s no time like long term travel to put one’s wardrobe under a microscope and pack only the essentials!
We’ve previously discussed the perils of the fashion industry here, which has been called out as the second (only to coal) most environmentally damaging industry. We’re now super aware of our own fashion consumption. In 2017, we bought only what was necessary (a single pair of warm boots for me and 3 work shirts, 1 pair of jeans and 3 pairs of underwear for Lyall). 2018 however, has brought new and exciting adventures which means we’ve had to think carefully about what we actually need for life on the road. We’ve taken inspiration from the following movements to help guide our choices and reduce our impact:
- Slow Fashion: A movement coined by designer Kate Fletcher as a response to ‘Fast Fashion’. The idea is super simple and unbelievably logical: Focus on quality over quantity and buy fashion that will stand the test of time and see out all the various trends and crazes the fashion industry conjures up. For us, this means repurposing classic items we already own and where we do have to buy, choosing quality items from sustainable and ethical brands that go the distance for years and years to come
- Minimalism: Many of you changemakers have seen the film “Minimalism” on Netflix. If you haven’t, its ethos is centered on priority, owning what you really want, what is really important to you and scrap the rest. By doing so, you’ll be freer, happier and a whole lot lighter. This idea was really brought to the mainstream by Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. While this lifestyle may be a tall order for the general consumer public, there’s been a real groundswell towards minimalist everything! As with all movements though, there’s always a bit of a backlash, however, we think the underlying premise for minimalism is a good one – much like slow fashion and Project 333. From a travel perspective, there’s a ton of inspiring travelers out there who are combining the minimalist ethos with globe trotting.
- Project 333: Very much complementary to the slow fashion and minimalist movements, Project 333 is a unique idea, based on the premise that you don’t need more than 33 items of clothing and accessories at any given moment. This includes clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes BUT (thankfully) excludes underwear, sleepwear, in-home lounge wear and workout clothing. While some say 33 items is a bit arbitrary, we love that this movement is practical, draws a line in the sand and provides a clear structure which enables us to contribute to ‘slow fashion’ and ‘minimalism’.
- Ethical & sustainable (#whomademyclothes): complex and subjective but generally, the goal is to buy items that have been ethically and sustainably made and supplied. This includes visibility and transparency over supply chains to gain comfort that the person who made our clothes has been treated fairly and that negative environmental impacts have been properly and responsibly managed. Ideally, the items we buy should first be repaired and re-used or recycled before we purchase any more clothing which fuels the consumption machine
While we’d love to be ultra minimalist travelers with a single, cool duffel bag while still looking (read: trying to look) great, the reality is we’re travelling for 6 months so we need to pack a little more than a couple of t-shirts, a pair of jeans and a toothbrush. However, we have challenged ourselves to do Project 333: Travel Edition! Project 333’s rules have enabled us to meet our slow fashion objectives along with helping us to be somewhat minimalist in our packing.
While we’ve prioritized packing clothing and accessories that we already own, we’ve had to buy a few bits and pieces to suit the trip. We’ve set pretty tough ethical and sustainable (and as it turns out idealistic) criteria for these purchases and honestly, this has been a REAL CHALLENGE. As many of you know, it’s really difficult to find ethical and sustainable clothing / accessories that you’ll love and will stand the test of time. Even in London, supposedly one of the shopping meccas which sounds absolutely crazy. We often found that most ethical brands are small, only available online (sometimes based overseas) and generally are not suitable for travelling. Our answer to this has mostly been Patagonia. We’ve also had some failures too which has inspired us to write a lot more about fashion going forward!
We have a four major constraints which considerably limit our ability to pack super light. We’re hoping to (somewhat) overcome these by being creative and super ruthless:
- Weather: We’ll be finishing up winter in the northern hemisphere which will mean warm jackets, jerseys, beanies and gloves. We’ll also be heading south, most likely to tropical, humid areas so we’ll also need the opposite: bathing suits, shorts and sandals
- Activities: We’ll be doing a huge range of activities, all of which have different demands, for example: hiking in snow (warm clothes, hiking boots), swimming / diving in the ocean (towel, swimsuit, hat), wild interactions / safari (lightweight comfy clothes), long-haul travel (comfy but warm clothes) and working (track pants 🙂 / smart attire)
- Zero waste: We’re ALSO trying to generate as little waste as possible so we need to pack some zero waste essentials (e.g. water bottles, napkins, tote bags and separators)
- Mindset: Lyall is naturally a minimalist traveler, usually travelling for 5+ days with a tiny backpack but I’m not quite that confident – I tend to pack for most eventualities (plan for the worst hope for the best sort of approach!). I hate being uncomfortable! We’re also going to be filming / taking pictures of ourselves a bit more on this trip (trying to build the personal brand 🙂 ) which presents the vanity issue….how are we going to attempt to look sort of cool? Or at least passable for 6 months with < 33 items… yet to be determined…
Taking into consideration the inspiration we’ve got from all the fashion movements, the challenge we’ve set ourselves and and our constraints, here’s what you’ll find in our backpacks (excluding equipment / kit and toiletries). No doubt, we’ll have to tweak this along the way!
As you can tell, the above is by no means perfect, I’m sure we’re going to find ourselves with surplus items as well as without some much needed clothing and will have to adjust along the way. There’s a lot to learn about living and travelling with only your essentials (just about) so look out for updates. To follow along, find us on any of the socials and sign up with us for regular updates.
As always, if you have any tips, thoughts or ideas, we’d love to hear them! Please get in touch or leave a comment.