100-Day Clothing Challenge

Brian Gramling Front Porch Flyer

By Taylor Youngblood, Mueller Zero Waste Block Leader

Back in May, my phone’s newsfeed posted an article about wearing the same dress for 100 days. Men and children, there are versions for you, too, so please keep reading. The company featured, Wool& (wooland.com), encourages you to wear one of their wool dresses for 100 days in a row. I wanted to try this challenge for several reasons: sustainability, minimalism, and reduction of decision fatigue.

Let’s discuss the benefits of this type of challenge from a zero waste perspective:

  • “Wool is a performance fabric with remarkable odor-resistant properties.” Clothing will last longer and wear better for you than synthetic fabrics.
  • “Spend less time and money doing laundry and dry cleaning (duh!).” Save water, reduce use of products, and reduce dry cleaning chemicals.
  • “Learn how to get more wears out of a garment.” This keeps moreclothing out of the landfill or clogging up the second-hand stream. 
  • “Recognize what you need and don’t need in your wardrobe.” Less clothing is fewer resources, less throwing away/processing, less decision making, more space and more time for you.
  • “Have more money to spend on experiences with the people that make you the happiest.” Experiences typically use fewer resources than material items; think meals, excursions, site visits. Plus, with community and your people, all wins!
  • “Reduce your impact on the planet when you realize you don’t need a closet packed full of clothing.” Less for you is less for the planet.

The emotional benefits of the challenge are “[realizing] that your clothing isn’t what defines you” and experiencing the community of the people involved in the challenge as they share encouragement, triumphs, frustrations and daily life. My challenge ran from August – November. My sleeveless dress was comfortable for Texas summer, looked great on Zoom, held up great, and I enjoyed all aspects of the challenge.

Dress Challenge During Cold Weather, by Taylor Youngblood
Dress Challenge – MNA Meeting, by Taylor Youngblood
Dress Challenge on Zoom, by Taylor Youngblood

I mention the Wool& company only as my example. You can apply this concept to clothing you already own or that you acquire second hand; natural fibers are recommended for longer wear. The men’s version involves wool shirts, and the kids’ version involves mini-styles of dresses and shirts. My hope for you is that this concept would inspire you to research and consider the choices you make. According to the EPA*, “Landfills received 11.3 million tons of MSW textiles in 2018. This was 7.7 percent of all MSW landfilled.” “The recycling rate for all textiles was 14.7 percent in 2018.” Donating wearable clothing isn’t saving much from the landfill**, “An estimated 40% of the 15 million used garments from North America, UK and Europe that pour into Accra, Ghana are of such poor quality they are deemed worthless on arrival and end up dumped in landfill.” Even if it isn’t recycled or landfilled locally, it is likely to end up in a landfill somewhere. Less clothing to begin with is less we have to deal with at its end of life, and natural fibers are going to be easier to reuse, recycle, or even compost over synthetics.

Quotes and bullets are from https://bit.ly/100DayDressChallenge