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3 Ways To Living Sustainably With A Minimalist Closet In A City

How I practice a more eco-friendly approach towards sustainability.
June 11, 2024
By Mary Baucom

A New Yorker Wears The Same Sweater All Week Long

Welcome to the 3rd blog in my 3-part series about sustainable living in a big city.

This blog is about some sustainable practices that I incorporate into my lifestyle here in the concrete jungle of New York.

Join me as I discuss opting for eco-friendly clothing choices, practicing a more sustainable shopping lifestyle, and buying products that are actually good for you and the environment. I hope this blog can inspire you to start living more sustainably and buying intentionally.

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Having lived in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York City, you could say that I’m a city girl.

I grew up in suburban neighborhoods with classic picket fences and manicured lawns. Where kids played in cul-de-sacs until dusk.

While I attended a rural upstate New York university, after college for my master's degree, I headed to my first major city: Chicago. I remember the feeling of driving with my parents, my life belongings in tow, as I embarked on my next chapter.

We sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway, but I was smiling ear to ear as the Chicago skyline was off in the distance. I was immediately hooked. The access to live shows and historic museums thrilled me.

After I graduated, I headed west to San Francisco for my first full-time job, thinking I’d try it out for a year or two. Turned out, I stayed in the Bay Area for seven years.

But eventually, I decided it was time to head back east, and New York City was next on the docket for me. While I love the ease of getting around and the hustle and bustle of living in an urban area, it can be hard to think green when surrounded by concrete.

However, in time, I learned a few lifestyle practices that help me be more sustainable no matter where I live. In this blog, I'll cover everything from shopping with an eco-conscious lens to minimizing plastic waste. 

Wearing The Same Sweater For The Whole Week - Oliver Charles

Buy Minimalist Clothes From Eco-Friendly Brands

When it comes to shopping in a city, the world is your oyster. I can walk outside of my apartment and choose from countless stores. However, if being green is important to you, it’s best to do some research before checking out.

A quick Google search will show you which brands are committed to eco-friendly choices. And thanks to the increased demand for sustainable options, more brands are highlighting what they’re doing for the environment.

Sustainable clothing companies such as Oliver Charles will list the materials they use and where their apparel is produced. For example, Oliver Charles All-Season and Winter Sweaters are made from Tibetan yak wool, while their Summer Sweaters are made with a seaweed-based material called SeaCell.

They also explain how their clothes are made, which is through this amazing seamless 3D-knitting process, all here in the USA!

But shopping for clothes is just one piece of the puzzle. I learned that everything from reducing plastic packaging to how often I washed my clothes also made a difference.

Purchasing A Sweater That Lasts A Lifetime - Oliver Charles

Limit Single-Use Plastic

Open your fridge. How much of your food is wrapped in plastic? From the spinach container to the yogurt cups, everything seems to be in a plastic container of some sort. While you can’t limit all the plastic in your life, there are ways to reduce how much plastic you bring into your home.

Going to the farmer’s market is a great first step on the food front. By bringing your own reusable bag and avoiding plastic bags there, you are well on your way to a less plastic life. (I personally leave a tote bag by my door so I never forget when—even when I’m in a rush.) On your daily coffee run, bring your favorite thermos instead of using one of their plastic cups.

For makeup products, look for brands with more sustainable packaging. Many cosmetic brands are shifting to refillable packaging designs.

Going back to clothing, synthetic materials like polyester are made from plastic, and when you wash these items, they release up to 2,000 microplastic fibers, eventually ending up virtually anywhere on the planet.

With so much talk about plastic, you may be wondering what the big deal is. After all, will our efforts even make a difference in the grand scheme? While our thermos won’t stop Starbucks from making millions of plastic cups yearly, it can perpetuate to more widespread use. You never know who is watching and will be influenced by our own green efforts!

Buying Minimalist Clothes From Eco-Friendly Brands - Oliver Charles

Reduce Your Water Use

After getting off the subway, I only want to take a long, hot shower. It can be tempting to let the water run for several minutes before hopping in, especially since many high-rise buildings pay for water usage. However, tightening up your bathing routine is better for the environment.

A shower timer can be installed to help save water and energy used to heat the water. The average shower is around 8 minutes and uses 17.2 gallons of water! Trimming down your shower for a minute or two can make a big difference.

You can also install a water-saving shower head—a great solution for families who may not be able to monitor their teenagers' habits!

I replaced my shower head when I moved to my current apartment and noticed a world of difference. Along with showering, washing clothes greatly impacts water usage. Living in a city, I have a laundry facility in my building’s basement.

I avoid doing a wash without my bin being full and try to wear clothing a few times before giving it a rinse. For that reason, the Oliver Charles sweater cannot be beaten! I can wear it for several days before feeling like it smells or needs to be freshened up.

When it comes to living sustainably, think of how you can live a bit better today for the environment's sake. It may be as simple as starting to toe around your own tumbler instead of getting a plastic cup at your favorite coffee shop or taking a shorter shower. A small green step is a step towards a better planet.

Mary Baucom is a NYC-based marketer at Hearst Magazines with a passion for sustainable, healthy living. She moved to NYC three years ago after spending seven years in San Francisco. Living on the West Coast, she found yoga and meditation and learned the importance of self-care and prioritizing her mental well-being.

If you believe that every good wardrobe starts with owning less and owning better, consider buying yourself an OLIVER CHARLES sweater.
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