Project 333 is good for our finances, and for the planet.
Every year, especially during Lent, it’s good for us to examine our lives and see how we can get rid of extra material belongings that clutter up our hearts and our lives. It’s also a good opportunity for us to give the things we don’t really need either directly to people we know can use them, or to charitable organizations that can use them to help those in need.
One way to do this is to review how much clothing we buy and use. The fact is, most of us buy more clothes than we need. Many people even would have to admit that there are articles of clothing they bought on an impulse but which, even a year later, they haven’t used.
Buying less clothing has various benefits. Besides making us more responsible with our own finances, it helps us create a more sustainable relationship with the environment. It’s one of those daily steps that any of us can take to put into practice Pope Francis’s call in his encyclical “Laudato Si’” to take greater care of our common home, the Earth. However, like any other good resolution, it’s easier said than done.
In 2010, Courtney Carver created a new minimalist fashion challenge to help people reduce their clothing consumption: Project 333. This challenge proposes that we take a moment to look at the clothing in our closet, analyze what we have, and select just 33 articles of clothing—including accessories—to wear for next 3 months. Hence, the number 333.
Courtney Carver created Project 333 as a result of a process of re-examining her life that resulted from her being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006. Learning about her illness made her want to simplify her life. She describes her story, ideas, and experiences on her blog, Be more with less.
Take the 333 challenge at least once
Nine years after it was launched, Project 333 is still going strong. It can be difficult to live the rules of this challenge on a permanent basis; how much clothing we need depends to some extent on our lifestyle, our social obligations, and our professional occupations. However, doing the 333 challenge at least once will help us discover a lot of things about ourselves, and can teach us at least three lessons:
1. Learn to prioritize
We need to learn to forget about “just in case,” and Project 333 will help us to ask ourselves if we really need each of our articles of clothing. This will make us more selective, and will make us think about the reasons why we need or prefer one piece of clothing instead of another.
2. Think twice before buying
Once we’ve chosen the 33 articles of clothing that we’re going to keep in our closet, it will make us stop and think much more carefully before we buy anything more. We will learn to look at what we already have before we buy something new, which is a wonderful way to save money.
3. Learn to distinguish the quality of clothing
If we only have 33 pieces of clothing, it means we’ll wash each item more often. This way, we’ll discover what kinds of fabrics last longer, and which ones wear out more easily. This experience will help us to the more informed and conscious consumers.
No method works for absolutely everyone. However, one of the greatest obstacles to living responsibly is a lack of awareness and an irrational tendency to accumulate things we don’t need. Project 333, and other similar minimalist challenges, can help us raise our consciousness and make the changes we need in our lives to be freer, more responsible citizens of planet Earth.