My Year of Zero Waste Lifestyle & No Fashion Shopping

In past 8 years, I never wrote an overview of a year of living sustainable, it was always new year’s green resolution or starting some challenge in the new year. But this year 2017, I ventured onto a difficult journey of ‘Zero Waste lifestyle’ along with ‘No Fashion Shopping for an entire year’, both these things together at the same time added lots of challenges. But now at the end of the year when I am looking back on this journey, I realized there is something special about this year which I need to share with my Tribe!

Thanks to EWS-WWF who requested me to create a video to talk about my Green Goals of 2017 early this year, watch here

No Fashion Shopping Year

I strongly believe that if there is any change needed in our society it should start with you first. You need to ‘Be the change’! So like always I decided to try out Zero Waste Lifestyle to reduce waste, be more sustainable and opt for a minimalist, healthy, clutter free as well as rich lifestyle. Remember Let’s target #ZeroWasteUAE in 2017, a new year’s resolution (read here)? At the same time fed up consumerism around me in this city and around the world, I wanted to show my tribe and most importantly my 4-year old Dubai kid (a budding shopper) that there is so much to life than just stuff. Like most Dubai kids, he started asking for things everytime we visited a mall or grocery shop. So when we opted for the minimalist lifestyle I started saying simply ‘No’ to his demands for random and useless toys or stuff.  He has definitely now learned that all things displayed in the shops are for selling but we might not buy any of them.Being a strong supporter of sustainable and ethical business, I obviously hate wasteful & unethical fast fashion. Read here, why fast fashion is not good for our planet and people. But before start talking about which are sustainable options for fashion I wanted to prove first, we are not slaves to fashion. Being trendy is not really worth it if it’s hurting someone. One woman in Dubai can live without buying any new clothes, shoes, accessories etc for an entire year happily. It means we don’t have social pressure in Dubai to look trendy, which is widely considered here. It’s you who exerts that pressure on yourself to look trendy and up to date not others. So first we need to learn to say No.

My worn out bag and shoes

My #nofashionshopping year was not very easy but it was fun. I am no way a fashionista but I have never been so creative about using same clothes in different combinations of mix & match of different separates. I went far beyond #30wears on every piece I own. Whatever clothes I accumulated over last few years (some pieces are even 5-6 years old), I wore them again and again differently to get different looks.

These two pieces of accessories a Carpisa cross body bag and Adidas sneakers bought more than 2 years ago are my most necessary and used items. From school runs to grocery shopping and weekend outing to attempts of morning exercises I wear them every day. So not a surprise they are worn out and even torn a little by end of 2017. But I am not ashamed, rather I am still proud to flaunt them when I can’t find alternatives quickly.

This leather bag is particularly overused beyond its use. Right from my travels abroad to everyday use, you would have spotted it dangling from my shoulder any possible places.  So much was it used that the strap was damaged badly and needed replacement. But then finding a non-leather strap which can go with it was a tough job. But then following my Zero Waste resolution, I upcycled this bag at home by fixing a metal chain from another old bag as a strap. It was functional and looked okay too. It looks like I am still not ready to give up on this bag, especially because it’s leather and unsustainable. So want to use it till I can find many other uses of it to make up for the environmental impact of manufacturing this bag.

Zero Waste Lifestyle

For me, no fashion shopping was just the extension of zero waste, minimalist lifestyle. It helped me to make my wardrobe minimalist along with my home. So frankly it was not as difficult to manage both of these things after a while. I found following zero waste lifestyle much more difficult than rationing fashion. Read here some basic tips I figured out to start a zero-waste lifestyle in UAE. You need to make it a habit, a routine to think about your wasteful habits and take actions to reduce it. For example, every time I am leaving home I need to carry my reusables (read here about sneak peek in my everyday bag). Or follow our family tradition of empty fridge day to reduce food waste (read here how to reduce food waste at home). I have also created a directory for zero waste shopping in UAE (read here). Watch this vlog to see in details how can you shop package-free in UAE.

I would highly recommend you to read here UAE’s waste facts and be part of our #ZeroWasteUAE Initiative here. You can not start a zero-waste lifestyle without recycling, so here is the guide for recycling in UAE.

Now a great advantage of combining zero waste lifestyle and no fashion shopping was to upcycle fashion pieces or re-purpose old clothes and accessories. Here is one of such idea of upcycling denim at home with easy DIY instructions (click to read). I even facilitated a workshop for eco-minded Dubai residents to create something beautiful and useful out of their unwanted clothes.

Creating useful things out of old clothes with easy DIYs

Less Stuff More Experiences

But my 2017 was not just about saying no to fashion shopping and going zero waste, and joy of conquering difficulties in this journey. It was a year of less stuff more experiences. Be it an experience of learning something simple but new like creating vlogs. Or doing what I love to do the most, teaching sustainability! This year I educated around 400 students in schools across Dubai about what is sustainability, what small steps they can take to achieve it or how they can build a career in sustainability.

Talking to 250 students about sustainability

 

Then the joy of making my home a minimalist was another great thing. I now don’t go through the sentiment of opening a door of the cabinet and close it without finding what I was looking for because it is lost in the clutter. This year, thanks to zero waste lifestyle, I was more into home-making than most of my married years. Read here how to detox your home. But most importantly I could dedicate this year to exploring.

2017, Year of Sustainable Tourism

United Nation’s General assembly declared 2017 as the year of Sustainable Tourism, what better year could be to travel and explore consciously? So we started with exploring sustainable tourism options offered by UAE, being like a tourist in your town we volunteered our time to help EMEG to released just hatched Hawksbill Turtles, read here. Then we explored a neighboring country with zero waste road trips, beautiful Oman! Read here about UNESCO world heritage listed Falaj and terrace farms in Oman and other posts about natural wonders of Jebel Akhdar (read here). We also took a chance to plan our trip to Georgia in 24 hours and had one of the best trips, read all about it here. All this responsible travel took us close to Nature, where you and your children get best lessons of their life. We met many different people and made many new friends along our travels. Of course, by switching off our devices, Disconnect To Connect in a real sense. Following zero waste lifestyle on trips was not always easy, especially for a family with a kid. But I am glad we managed most of it. Imagine, hiking on Georgian mountain with a lot of reusable items in a backpack. But then it pays off when your child says, ‘Mama, this is the best play area in the whole wide world’.

So here is a goodbye to the year 2017, a year of challenges, adventures, and determination! Happiness is what counts at the end, isn’t it? Subscribe here to be part of our Tribe! Wish you all a lovely & sustainable New Year!

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Hi, I am Amruta, Thank you for visiting my blog!

I am a Sustainability Professional. I have worked on many green building projects in the

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