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Book Review: Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas

I heard about Fashionopolis as it was one of sources on a recent Climate Town video (which was awesome and you should totally watch after you’re done here).  

men s gray and black button up shirt on mannequin
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

Fashionopolis is the third book by Dana Thomas, published in 2019. She’s a careered fashion journalist for such esteemed publications as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harper’s Bazaar and more.

The book is set up in three parts.  

Part One covers the history of mass produced garments. Starting in the industrial revolution to now in the world of over consumption, globalism and exploitation. Fun…

It did start exploring more modern manufacturing plants that are more automated and transparent about how the workers are being treated. Which is nice to know there’s some change in the industry to make things a tad bit safer. But at the same time the big fast fashion companies are still actively lobbying against countries like Bangladesh from raising the minimum wage.   

This part was interesting but also extremely sad, since it really highlights the lack of care companies have for their employees lives or safety.  

Image Source and an interesting article about garment workers during the Pandemic.

Part Two was more focused on material production and ‘rightshoring’ which is the return of garment manufacturing in first world countries with more more ethical and environmentally conscious practices. Or that is how I understood it in the context of the book. I googled it after finishing the book and my definition is off.

It gives reasons to why some garment manufacturing is coming back to the US and UK. As well as suppliers like dyes, wools, lower water cotton and more.

There were interviews some of the startups that are working on fabric recycling, particularly cotton/poly blends (which is shockingly common and currently essentially impossible to reuse or recycle (Secondhand covered the journey to the grave is covered really well in that book if you’re curious)).  

Somewhere in this section we start hearing about Stella McCartney, the fashion designer. I knew her as the lady that designed that ugly jackets for Taylor Swift’s Lover merch. She’s also Paul McCartney’s daughter. #funfacts 

But she’s been very active in reducing furs in luxury fashion, and has been investing and partnering with many of small manufacturers that are creating ethical or recycled materials. It was really cool. But also the book talked about her a lot. I don’t know if it’s because she’s the only one doing anything or if that just who the author could interview.  

Part Three is about renting and sharing of clothing, as well as the second hand market. All of which have been growing in recent years. The author seemed to focus in on luxury rental companies (Like the Real Real). I think it would have been cool to have talked more which places like ThreadUp or Goodwill to discuss how the secondhand bomb has been effecting them. Since that’s where us normies get our second hand clothes.

black framed eyeglasses on white jacket and blue denim bottoms
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

I enjoyed Fashionopolis. I have an interest in fashion (or maybe garment production since I like sewing). And this book was filled with sooo much interesting information. However, when I read a book like this, I wish it was a documentary instead. The author tried describing this as much as she could but I want to see it. I ended up having to google some of the stuff mentioned just to understand what she’s talking about. So at the very least photos would have improved the reading experience. If you have a interest in fashion or curious about garment manufacturing this book is for you.

How am I supposed to imagine this from a description? Image Source (PS it’s a 3-D printed dress)

If you curious about over fashion related book review, my review for Project 333 is for you. Or check out all my book reviews here.

Inbound vs Outbound #13 – October 2021

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also, if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • One Dining Table;
  • Persticide Spray for the plants; and
  • A lot (I mean like two boxes worth) of glass containers from the Buy Northing Group.
Three of the contrainers (I already had the vase in the front) on the new table
More of the jars that haven’t found homes yet.
plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Nothing…

Honestly, October flew by so quickly I didn’t really have time to accumulate or get rid of anything. I was able to make my costume out of stuff I already owned and we didn’t decorate for the season.

Inbound vs Outbound #12 – September 2021

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also, if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

Last month was very impressive with soooo things being removed from my life since I was moving. This month… Not as much.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • Bread maker;
  • One shower curtain;
  • Two jewel orchids;
Pray for my orchids, they both rotted at the base right after I bought em
  • One work sweater;
  • One work polo;
  • One dresser;
  • One bath mat;
  • One toilet brush;
  • One cactus;
  • One orchid (this is actually an orchid I originally gifted to a friend, but they are moving so I’ve gotten it back);
  • One mini garlic/ginger grater;
  • One coffee table;
  • One side table;
  • Three bar stools;
  • Two Ikea closet shelf organizers; and
  • One bear wall art.
So majestic
plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • A bunch of hangers (garbage);
  • One kettle (garbage);
  • Three plants (gifted to a friend).

This September wasn’t much of a month of pretend I care about minimalism or whatever. You may notice that most of the items that are coming into my life are pretty large and/or should last a long time. So I’m hoping you won’t be seeing me replacing or decluttering them anytime soon.

The Move 2021

man person people car

“You have so much stuff…”

I’m not sure how many times I heard that over the day my friends graciously gave up to help me move. 

The friends that help me move last year were the most vocal in their complaints:

“You didn’t have this much stuff last year”

“How do you write a blog about minimalism when you own this much crap?”

“How did you move last time with only a van?”

The answer to that last question: My old place was furnished, including bed frame and mattress. I’ve since gotten both, as well as three bookshelves. All items that take up a lot of space in a moving truck.

Other than that, I don’t have an excuse. I didn’t think I collected that many things over the year and a bit I lived in my previous apartment. But I guess looks can be deceiving…

Well, I suppose one notable area where I know I’ve accumulated stuff is plants. If you read my Inbound vs Outbounds over the year, you might have noticed this trend. But that doesn’t take a trucks worth of space.

Plants on Bookshelf

Another spot, that truly didn’t sink in until we were unpacking at the other end was food. Maybe, this shouldn’t surprise me. I’ve mentioned my struggles with food waste a few times on this blog during my Plastic Free July series.  

Anyways, the number of boxes that were food gadgets, or actually food was shocking. I didn’t count, but it felt like the kitchen is overflowing with my stuff, and none of my partner’s. I have no idea how it happened since the kitchen at our new place is bigger than my last place.

I guess in hindsight I might have overstepped my dedicated food storage areas in my old apartment. I’m trying not to repeat this a second time. Not only with food, but with general co-habitation.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

As for other things that moved, they are all about as expected…

My partner is very confused about the shoes. Earlier today, he was like “so you have a Ikea thing in the closet that holds your shoes”. To which I agreed was accurate. He continues “so what is the big bag of shoes in the living room?”

I just said “Yes” and moved on. I haven’t worn most of my heels in almost two years, but they still Spark Joy, so they are staying.


I won’t touch on the yarn situation too much in this post. But my partner and friends were very confused as they would open a box and yarn would be the first thing they would see (I used it in lieu of bubble wrap to pad my stuff).

At the moment there is one closet and a few boxes that are just sitting around, filled with yarn and crafting supplies. All of it poorly organized since I get so overwhelmed it’s muddles my brain when I’ve tried figuring out what I should do to store it. Like, I know what I want to do with each individual ball of yarn or piece of fabric, but finding the home, until I have the time to do it, is the issue. It’s not a cute look and definitely something I’m planning on tackling in the near term.

The truck. We also did a few car trips after for the plants and small stuff

Overall, it feels so strange now that I’m here. I’ve spent months trying to downsize my belongings, and been giving crap away left, right, and center. But I don’t really feel like I have much to show for it. Or more, not show since it should be gone. My friends that read the blog were so impressed with how much stuff I had listed in my August Inbound vs Outbound. It was a productive month, but also doesn’t feel like enough.

To concluded, the move went well and we are still getting settled in. This post doesn’t feel like it had much of a point. But I still wanted to share my thoughts and experiences of the process. Have you moved recently? Would love to hear any fun remarks the people helping you out made.

Inbound vs Outbound #11 – August 2021

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

I was packing to move this month. I tried my best to keep track of things but there’s a chance a lot was missed. Really tried to only to move stuff I want to keep (spoiler: mixed results).

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • A bar cart;
  • One T-shirt;
  • One legging and sports bra set; and
  • One vacuum.
plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Two jewelry design boards (FB Marketplace);
  • A carry case filled beading supplies (FB Marketplace);
  • A fishing tackle of beading supplies (FB Marketplace);
  • Two glass Terrarium (FB Marketplace);
  • Two outdoor chair and stools (FB Marketplace);
  • One Fijifilm Instax and three packs of film (given to a friend);
  • Two packs of scrapbooking paper (given to a friend);
  • One Gameboy with games and carrier (eBay);
  • More random bag of beading supplies (Buy Nothing Group);
  • A bag of knit slippers my grandma gave me three years ago (hospital NICU);
  • About 4-5 bags of clothing and household items (donated);
  • A office/school supplies (Buy Nothing Group/Gifted);
  • 100 paper bags (FB marketplace);
  • One crochet bear (Buy Nothing Group);
  • One plastic Christmas tree (Garbage);
  • One plant my friend found on the side of the road and left at my old place (returned to the side of the road);
  • One bean bag chair (gifted to my roommate);
  • One dinning table (gifted to my roommate); and
  • One pocket Neopet (eBay).

As predicted in my July post, lots of movement this month. I’m at the new place and there is a lot of unpacking to do, which will discuss in future posts.

BOOK REVIEW: Minimal by Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea

Jewelry Making Supplies

Laurie Barrette and Stéphanie Mandrea are two childhood friends and the owners of the Quebec brand Dans le SacWhich primarily sells reusable fabric bags, as they transitioned into a low waste, minimalist lifestyle. I attended a virtual interview that Indigo (a Canadian Bookstore) did with the authors. They seem quite nice. The few things I really remember about their talk (I lost the page I wrote my notes on) was their idea of Zero Waste, which isn’t trying to having all your trash for the year fit in a mason jar. But more the 5 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

Photo Source

The book is a pretty short read at about 220 pages, Libby said that I finished the book in about 2 hours. Overall, I enjoyed it. There’s a lot of lists and DIY projects for different areas of the home and life, such as cleaning products, skincare and baby bum sprays to help live a low impact life.

I enjoyed the first couple chapters the most and got the most information out of them. They might be a bit basic, but cover the ideal of minimalism, the impact of humans on the environments and the idea of making ones on products to have more control of what is entering ones personal environment.

From the cleaning chapter onwards, they started to loose me a bit. Barrette and Mandrea really love essential oils! I have a below average sense of smell, so I don’t care about aromatherapy or essential oils. Also there’s a few really large multi-level marketing companies that sell oils. And that sales/company structure isn’t something I believe is ethical. To be clear, they weren’t pushing a certain brand or anything like that, just my prior knowledge of essential oils going into this book make me have a generally negative option about them.

I truly disagree with one point they had in there book. That was that essential oils are good for the planet. They mention that oils “triggered their green journey”. Kinda ironic given how material intensive the process can be (like 10,000 lbs of roses for one 1lbs of rose oil).

Also they encouraged putting essential oils on babies, they did have a disclaimer that it’s “controversial” to put these types of oils on babies but their didn’t have any issues with their kids. John Hopkins has an article with recommended amounts/usage. But I personally don’t think it’s a great idea. I’ve used tea tree oil on my skin before, and found it burnt a lot so I can’t imagine how a baby would feel.

I don’t have children but I did enjoy the chapter about raising minimalist kids that are environmentally conscious. A lot of it just leading by example but they have this list of environmentally friendly family actives that I just found really charming. Examples, like making salt dough, building bird houses, and growing veggies. That list is without a doubt my favorite part of the book.

At the end of the day it’s a pretty easy read, with really lovely photos, and with content you can find mostly on their website or if you spent enough time on Pinterest. I did read an interview with them that has a quote, that I think captures their intent with this book: “Packed with DIY project ideas, practical tips for reducing waste, and utterly drool-worthy photos, Minimal is a must read whether you’re motivated by love of the planet, the ‘gram, or both.”

Photo Source

To conclude, I would have enjoyed less essential oil talk, but others may not find it as annoying. If you see this book at a book store or the library I would say give it a quick flip through and read the kid friendly activity list but I don’t recommend spending money on it.

You can find some of my other minimalism review here.

Plastic Free Update #2

assorted plastic bottles in a pile

You can read my two previous posts about Plastic Free July below:

I’m Gonna Try ‘Plastic Free July’

Plastic Free Update #1

As mentioned in my previous update, it was harder than expected. Now that it’s late-August, I can confidently say I didn’t do a great Plastic Free July. Below is an overview of the second half of the month:

July 19: McDonalds drink and fries

July 21: McDonalds coffee

July 22: Brough my own bags to the farmers market, but not enough, so I had to use some of theirs. I also got a container of microgreens and bread in a plastic.

Farmers Market Haul

July 23: I got plastic bag and plastic fork that came with my lunch order.

Later that day I dropped off my pile of black plastic take out containers I’ve been hording. There’s a take back program in Toronto, Case Reuse, that sanities and redistributes them to restaurants. So I brought my pile over to them.

July 25: Plastic clingwrap on some veggies that I received in my Too Good to Go order. It’s an app that partners with bakeries, grocers, restaurants to sell food that’s about to spoil at discounts in a sort of goodie bag. So the things I received would have gone to garbage anyways, so at least I was able to divert some of that waste.

July 26: Harvey’s drink with my post work snack of a veggie burger.

July 27: Did groceries and brought my reusable bags, but forgot the bags for my veggies.

July 28: Ordered Freshii for lunch on site, a compostable bowl but plastic lid. Strange…

July 29: A plastic bag came with my Mr.Sub order for lunch on site.

So ended up using single use plastic for more than 50% of the days. Beyond what was listed in the two updates, I’m pretty confident I forgot stuff so the reality could be worst.

Me after looking over my notes and seeing how bad I goofed the challenge. Photo by Ric Rodrigues on Pexels.com

I am proud of some of the things I’ve done. Like I finally got rid of the weird pile of plastic I was hiding from my roommate (although I might have to start a new one, since I saw some ramen bowls in our recycling again).

That’s pretty much the only goal that I achieved. Which is disappointing since I was really confident that I could do better. That why in my original post I added stretch goals, I was really sure that Plastic Free July would challenging but doable.

I could give a bunch of excuses to why I broke my own rules, as well as a challenges. But I can really summaries it as lack of planning and lack of fortitude.

The lack of planning one I’m hoping to fix, for a variety of reasons that aren’t only related to my plastic usage.

But my lack of fortitude is a bit harder. That can’t be solved that with a planner and a To Do list (although it might help). As I suspected in my first post, a lot of the plastic waste is coming from eating take-out. Some of that is due to the nature of my job, which involves a lot of site work and driving. But that doesn’t explain the takeout coffees and after work fries and pop. Those were just me wanting them now instead of waiting until I was at the office or home for a drink and snack.

So although I don’t think I did that well, I do think this is a interesting baseline measurement. Either for future Plastic Free Julys but also for other months. I might track it September and see how it compares. If I was a massive data nerd, I could track it for the next year and make some cool graphs with what type of plastic I’m using and where I put it at end of use. I would love to tell you I’m that kind of person, but I far too forgetful. So don’t look for that in the future.

So what now?

If you are new to Plastic Free July, their website has a lot of decent swaps for reducing plastic waste in the home.

But for the most part just planning a head so you don’t do what I do and impulse buy takeout. That’s better for the environment and ones wallet. I’m too nervous to even look at my bank statements to see how much money I spend this month on take out (minus the reimbursable stuff from work).

In my first post, I mentioned that I wanted to look in to the City of Toronto’s recycling program to learn more about it and maybe lobby for it to include black plastic. I haven’t done that. I still fully intend looking into that and Toronto’s composting program. May I update this post, or write a separate one when I’ve gotten the time to do the research. 

To wrap up, still a bit disappointed in how I did but I think that this was good eye opener that despite thinking I know a lot about waste reduction and plastic alternatives, I don’t fully practise what I preach and can improve.

Did you do Plastic Free July? How was it for you? I would love to read about it in the comments.

Inbound vs Outbound #11 – July 2021

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

  • Two work shirts;
  • Hard hat;
  • Safety vet;
  • No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg;
  • Landfill by Tim Dee; and
  • Five self watering planters.

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • One picture frame (Buy Nothing Group);
  • One lunch box (Sold on FB Marketplace);
  • Two blouses (Gifted to my friend);
  • One Peperomia Frost (Sold on FB Marketplace);
  • A bunch of black plastic takeout containers (case reused drop off); and
  • An old month guard (garbage)

I’m pretty sure I’m missing a few items this month. I posted a lot of things online and waiting for them to get sold. So hopefully I can get the outbound list a little longer in August.

Inbound vs Outbound #10 – June 2021

The point of this article is to see what I’ve purchased versus what I’ve decluttered in the month. The ultimate goal is to see, if over time, I’m bringing more into my life than taking out. Also if the things I do bring in are adding more value into my life in the long run since I’m documenting when it’s arriving.

plane landing
Photo by Shoval Zonnis on Pexels.com

Inbound: 

I brought in a cars worth of boxes of things that were previously being stored at my aunt’s house. You can read about that here.

Other items that came into my life:

  • One Peperomia Hope;
  • One Philodendron Birkin;
  • One ceramic planter;
  • One ergonomic keyboard;
  • One laptop stand;
  • One multi USB connection thing;
  • One ergonomic mouse pad; and
  • Sweatpants from Knix.

(you can tell this is the month I committed to the WFH lifestyle)

plane taking off
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Outbound:

  • Paper CD cases (recycled);
  • Plaques from races I won (Garbage);
  • Soap with a mustache pattern (gifted to my partner);
  • The book ‘Turtles as Pets’ (gifted to my partner);
  • A bunch of copper wires (Buy Nothing Group);
  • Random children books (little library and a donation box near a local church);
  • Random note book of yarn samples (garbage);
  • Guitar case (sold on Kijiji);
  • Manga/calligraphy set (gifted to roommate);
  • One roll of wrapping paper (Buy Nothing Group);
Off to do a Buy Nothing hand off

  • 5 rolls of duct tape (Buy Nothing Group);
  • A bag of textiles that’s been sitting in my car for easily 6 months (textiles recycling bin); and
  • 5 Pixar prints (Buy Nothing Group).

That’s it! Lots of things moving around in and out of my place. Sorry about the late update on this, I wanted the car post to be listed before this, and it took at while to write and edit.

Trying to Reclaim My Car

green scale model car on pavement

My car’s name is Dorian. Due to the fact that my car is gray. I love her! She’s my first big adult purchase and I use her pretty regularly to, ya know, drive.

I know The Minimalists say to love people, use things but I think I can love both.

But as of late, I’m not treating my car like I love her… Since I moved (back in July 2020), I’ve had some random boxes just sitting in my car because I didn’t want to clutter my apartment. This doesn’t make the clutter go away. And it being out of sight definitely did not made it easier to remember to actively take steps to intergrade or remove the crap from my life. I now totally understand why every decluttering book warns against off site storage. Out of sight, out of mind is a very real phenomenon.

Anyways, my life has recently reached a new, more cluttered point. Earlier this year, my parents moved and put some of my extra stuff into my aunt’s basement, as she still lives close by. I was texting her about something unrelated, and she mentioned I still have many boxes sitting in her basement.

That was a sign that it was time to get the stuff out of her house and take true ownership of my crap.

And oh my! I have soo much crap!! Poor Dorian was struggling as I was driving her home. I truly needed to clear out my car and make her usable. Since it was filled, including the passenger seat with boxes.

Step One was just clearing out the car. It took a couple trips, even while we used a cart to lug stuff up from the parking garage to my unit.

Step Two is looking through the contents of the box. That’s where it got a been a harder. There some stuff that I can declutter but a lot of it is stuff I don’t have space for, but also don’t want to get rid of. The majority of these boxes are are still sitting in boxes in my room as I write this.

But that can’t stay that way. Mostly because I want my room back, but also because I’m moving later this year and I don’t want to waste space in the moving van on stuff I don’t even want to keep.

Step Three has been getting rid of stuff. 

Donation centers have been closed off and on for the better part of a year due to lockdowns in Ontario. Although they are currently open, they are overwhelmed with donations. So the whole system is way less efficient than usual at redistributing donations.

As much as possible, I’ve been avoiding creating a donation pile. My current system is much slower and one that pretty much no one would recommend, due to it being so inefficient.

I’m currently selling cloths and home goods online on a variety of websites (eBay, Depop, Vinted, etc…). Any items that I don’t think have a resale value higher than it’s shipping cost are being posted in my local Buy Nothing group or FB Marketplace.

It’s been a pretty slow process. I’ve gotten faster at taking, editing and uploading product pics. And for the most part people have been coming to me for pickups. Since I work from home most days so I can just pop down to my building’s lobby and do the hand off. So the active time involved isn’t that high.

A bunch of tapes off to their new home

My friends have been really impressed by my patience in this process. Like the one time a no-buy pickup was about an hour late. Or the person that didn’t read when I mentioned three times I wasn’t available until after 12pm show up at 11:30am looking to trade.  

Those have been the most annoying trades, and they are rare instances. The majority of the time, everyone is punctual and extremely nice. Which is the main reasons I’ve been keeping up with it.

But that’s pretty much where I’m at. My Inbound vs Outbound for June (posted late, but better late than never) will better detail where I’ve been diverting my decluttered items.

I really need to pick up the speed. I really want to have my space reclaimed, right in time to pack it all up for the next place in about a month and half.

I’ve also been recording this process in more detail on my phone. So I need to learn how to edit videos and I’ll post that here as a separate update. So look out for that in the coming weeks to months.

Since the cleanout, I vacuumed the car and it was empty for a short period of time… Unfortunately, the car is currently filled with work equipment, a rain coat, and a copy of Pretty Little Liars I found at my local little library. I plan on dealing with that soon…