As we consider our changing world, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that overconsumption is a growing problem. Each year, we’re consuming far beyond our resources, and more affluent nations are not only using more, they’re producing far more waste as well. For example, Canada’s per capita CO2 emissions are twice as high as China’s—and eight times as high as India’s. In fact, the world’s richest billion people are responsible for 50% of all fossil fuel consumption and accompanying emissions, while the world’s poorest billion people are responsible for only 1%.
To make the lasting environmental impact our world so desperately needs, the world’s most affluent people, most of them based in North America and Europe, need to consume far less.
While we know it can be daunting to affect change in the face of massive challenges, a dozen of us in the Seventh Generation family decided to do an experiment to reduce our personal consumption. Knowing that the clothing industry is a huge culprit when it comes to waste and pollution, we decided to cut back our consumption of new clothes and wear what we have more often.
We each picked 10 items of clothing from our wardrobe and committed to wearing only those items for 100 days (excluding undergarments, workout clothes, and PJs). Our efforts were inspired by New Jersey middle school teacher Julie Mooney, who invented the challenge to help her students learn an important lesson about over-consumption. "There is no rule anywhere that says that we have to wear a different thing every day,” Mooney says. “Why do we constantly buy more clothes and feed into this fast-fashion culture?"
At Seventh Generation, we’ve been on a mission to reduce our impact since the moment we founded our company over thirty years ago. Far too many of the clothes that go into the washer aren’t even dirty, which creates unneeded waste. In addition, many of us have closets full of clothing that we don’t even wear. We believe that small actions added together can have a big impact, and in that spirit, we began our 100 days in January at the start of the new year. We all agree that it flew by, and now that it has come to an end, we’re excited to share some of the insights gained along the way:
- Durability was a challenge. Some of our shoes, pants and shirts are now falling apart!
- Our morning routines were far more efficient because we didn't even have to think about putting an outfit together.
- While 10 items didn’t actually feel that restrictive, many of us missed adding some creative flare to our outfits.
- In general, our colleagues didn’t even notice we were re-wearing the same clothes. In fact, even among participants, the repetition largely went unnoticed.
- Our clothes didn’t get as dirty as we thought they would. You can wear the same thing for days without washing.
- Our laundry routines remained about the same, though when we did wash, we all committed to using our EasyDose Laundry Detergent, which has 60% less plastic, 50% less water, and is 75% lighter than our 100oz bottle.
- We saved money. Many of us haven’t bought new clothing all year and are struck by how expensive clothing seems now.
- We’re feeling more mindful of quality over quantity. We all agree that it's more important to have a few long-lasting items that we love rather than lot of options.
- We could all make do with less. The general consensus is that we each only need around twenty items total.
- We now feel much more open to buying clothing second-hand vs. always buying new.
The 10 for 100 experiment was not only a success—it helped build awareness and will influence our shopping habits moving forward.
Telling stories with the goal of building a consumer revolution that nurtures the health of the next seven generations and beyond.