Monday 26 July 2010

Six Items or Less

I spend quite a lot of my online time reading the NY Times, over the years they've published some of my all-time favourite articles - they never hesitate to make me think a lot. One that recently sparked an interest was this article about shoppers on a diet. 

"Imagine that horrible though all-too-familiar feeling: You are standing before a fully stuffed closet and yet have nothing to wear. Now, imagine something worse: Your closet contains only six items, and you are restricted to wearing only those six items for an entire month. Now, if you can bear it, imagine something unspeakable: No one notices."

The article tells the tale of Stella Brennan, a 31 year old insurance sales executive, who wore just six items of clothing for a month. This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by an online challenge called Six Items or Less. The challenge was to go an entire month wearing only six items you already own - not counting shoes, underwear or accessories. Motives include a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing are damaging the environment.

Aside from the challenge of mixing and matching the same six items for 30 days, what is really interesting about the outcome is that no one noticed. Not even Stella's husband - the man responsible for doing all the laundry in the house.

This has made me question my own life. Do I own too many clothes? Definitely. Could I survive on six items or less for a month? Probably, but I don't do washing often enough; I'd be out of clothes by the end of the week. I've suddenly realised how much stuff I own that I don't use. I have four bedrooms full of material artefacts, yet I managed to backpack round Australia for months with only a rucksack full of clothes. Do I need to go on a shopping diet? Almost definitely.

I also hate wearing the same thing more than once a week, incase anyone thinks I haven't washed it. This undoubtedly makes the "what shall I wear today?" dilemma every morning all the more difficult. But the fact that even Stella's own husband didn't notice has made me question if I'm worrying unnecessarily. I bet my boyfriend wouldn't notice (and he does most of my washing) so would anyone else? Would I notice if any of my friends recycled their outfit for many days in a row? I'm not all that sure that I would. I used to have a lecturer who wore the same outfit every time she taught us (including on a uni trip where she seemingly wore the same outfit for 3 days straight) but even then, how many weeks/months did it take us to notice?

Almost tempted to try the Six Items or Less challenge. Watch this space.

Wednesday 14 July 2010


Oh by the way, I officially graduated a few weeks ago.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of project publicity, job offers, a wedding in Glasgow, a party in Aberdeen, my graduation ceremony, my graduation ball, etc etc. I had plans to chill out over the summer but the summer is rapidly disappearing. Some exciting events are taking place soon, don’t want to say anything until it’s all confirmed though! Watch this space.

Monday 5 July 2010

Recent Events

Last week I went to Super Freelancing - an event organised by the wonderful Super Mondays crew. You can even see my wee blonde head in the audience. Super Mondays is a creative and IT community in the North East of England who meet once a month and host a selection of speakers from across the industry. As I have recently branched out into the world of freelancing - to tide me over until I decide what I'm doing with my life - this month's even was of particular interest to me.

Paul Easton of Easton Media was first up, who gave us some hints and tips on using PR to our advantage. He urged us not to underestimate the power of good old fashioned newspapers and journalists, and some provoking questions from the audience resulted in us all learning what to avoid when offered a feature-and-ad combo.

Paul was followed by Laura Maddison of Altitude Recruitment  who gave some insider information on presenting our CVs. Always valuable advice. Rob Lavendar followed her, giving a talk titled "The Freelancer's Toolkit". I found this very interesting as it laid out some of the key tools and programs which aid the life of a freelancer. He has kindly uploaded his keynote here, which I highly recommend you check out. Lee Simpson was last up with tips on how to generate a passive income. Very interesting but not really applicable to me, unfortunately.

The following Thursday, I attended the Design PhD Conference at Northumbria University. The keynote speaker was Mike Press, a lecturer of mine from Dundee University, so it was nice to catch up as well as hear his lecture.He showed and described a broad selection of work from Jewellers to Animators, each of whom had made international impacts in their subjects from human computer interaction to cleaning up the planet. This brought the audience to a conclusion that the way ahead for design is in Social Innovation. You can read more about the conference and the lectures at the link above.

The past week has definitely given me some food for thought.