Unpacking with Danielle

Travel & Exploration

Tag: sustainability

First Project: DIY laptop sleeve

It’s the first day of the new year and I’ve already run into something I need: a laptop sleeve.

It’s not clothing for myself, but it is like a coat for my laptop.  I just got a chromebook and ordered a sleeve on Amazon, one that was supposed to fit, but it’s too big.  The spirit of my new year’s resolution is getting to me, so instead of ordering another I figure I should get creative.

I looked up how to make one.  It can be pretty simple.  I decided to give it a try.

My dad had some extra vinyl fabric lying around.  It’s waterproof, thin, and looks like fake leather.  It’ll work.

I used an old sheet to practice.  I took some measurements, turned on the sewing machine (something I hadn’t done since middle school sewing class), and got to work.  Within 10 minutes my prototype was done.

I then cut the vinyl and sewed it.  Easy.

So instead of buying another sleeve, I have a custom made one.  It took about 90 minutes from concept to completion, and I used stuff I already had in the house.  Plus I had the fun of a creative project 🙂

Here are some more pictures of my stuff:

Sewing tools.

Sewing tools.

Sewing machine.

Sewing machine.

Vinyl fabric and prototype.

Vinyl fabric and prototype.

Finished product.

Finished product.

Finished product.

Finished product.

New Year’s Resolution: Stop Buying Clothes

Buy no new clothes.  Whoa.  I think this is my toughest resolution yet.

Why am I doing this?  Well, fast fashion is causing the fashion industry to spiral out of control.  I didn’t realize how bad it was until I saw the documentary The True Cost on Netflix.

In a nutshell, here’s what I learned:

Low Prices = Bad Working Conditions

  • stores need to keep clothing prices low to stay competitive
  • so, the cost of clothing production keeps getting lower and lower
  • factory workers ultimately suffer with low wadges and horrible working conditions

Environmental Impact

  • stores quickly turn clothing to keep customers coming in to buy
  • excess clothing production creates waste
  • consequently, the fashion industry becomes one of the world’s largest polluters

With that in mind, I question how much I really need.


I also think about how my purchasing behavior has changed throughout my life.  When I was little, my mom would take my brother and me clothes shopping maybe twice a year.  Once in late August before school started for fall/winter clothes and once in the spring for spring/summer clothes.  That’s it.

Then in high school I started going maybe once every month or two.  Image is important when you’re a teenager.

Then when I was in college I’d go whenever I felt like it.  That could be multiple times a week.  And if you were dating someone you definitely were always shopping.  You always wanted to look good, and the amount he took you shopping was a sign of how into you he was.

Now as an adult, I have a hard time thinking of when I last went shopping because I actually needed something.  Like REALLY needed it.  Most of the time I shop because it’s something to do.  It’s a way to blow off steam or just let my mind wander.  Getting stuff has been an artifice to fulfill some other need.

When I stop and think about it, the whole thing seems pretty screwed up.  And I’m not even that bad when I think about how much other people splurge.  But this who we’ve become as a society.


Ten years ago I read about a woman who resolved to wear the same brown dress everyday for a year.  She did it and walked away learning a ton about herself and the fashion industry.  Her blog is no more, but others have written about her.  Here’s a link to one article.

A few years later, in 2009, someone else did the same thing, except her dress was black.  She also raised oodles of money for for underprivileged children in India.

These women were making a few statements:

  • forget societal pressure on women to be fashionable
  • don’t waste your money on clothing
  • over-consuming clothes is not socially or environmentally sustainable

I’m not bad ass enough to wear the same dress everyday.  I don’t even like dresses.  But I do think there’s something I can do, and I do think by doing something I can grow.  So I’m going to start with buying no new clothes.

This actually scares me, a lot.  Like, I’m so nervous about it that I wonder if I have an unhealthy attachment to consumption.

The reality is, though, when I look in my closet, I have more than enough things to wear.  Even after shedding so much because of moving overseas and losing weight, there’s still a lot.  I don’t actually need anything new.  But the thought of not being able to buy any new clothes for a year is still frightening.

My closet.

My closet.

I keep having thoughts like,

  • what if my running shoes get shot?
  • what if all my underwear gets stretched out?
  • what if my weight changes and nothing fits?

There are plenty more, but you get the idea.  And it’s these fears that, in part, probably keep me shopping frequently.

So I’m just going to have to find another way to deal with it.

This ought to be an interesting year.