Sustainability made simple

What is the Project 333 Challenge?

project 333
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / BlueMagnet

The Project 333 Challenge is a minimalist fashion challenge that reduces your wardrobe without totally gutting your closet. Keep reading for what you need to know to get started.

Are you running out of hanger space in your closet? Have you forgotten what the back of your wardrobe looks like? Cheap fashion and ever-changing trends have us consuming more than ever, and we often find ourselves with more than we need. If this sounds like you, it might be time to take the Project 333 Challenge!

Say “adieu” to standing overwhelmed in your closet doorway and join the thousands of others crafting their own minimalist wardrobes. Our short guide to the Project 333 Challenge will help you on your journey to minimizing your clothing and accessories.

What is Project 333?

Project 333 is the brainchild of American podcaster and author of Soulful Simplicity, Courtney Carver. She created the Project 333 Challenge to encourage people to adopt a conscious approach to minimalism in their wardrobes.

The challenge invites you to dress in 33 items or fewer for three months. This includes clothing, accessories, outerwear and shoes — not sentimental items, underwear or sleepwear. Essentially, this is a spin on the concept of a capsule wardrobe that eases you into the world of minimalism and simple living.

In the 13 years since its inception, countless people have taken on the challenge to “be more with less,” as Carver puts it, creating supportive communities on Instagram with the hashtag #Project333 and on the P333 Pinterest Board.

How to Take the Project 333 Challenge

Make a list of everything you have.
Make a list of everything you have. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / webandi)

To start the Project 333 Challenge, follow these simple steps:

  1. Take inventory of what you have. You want to make all your clothes and accessories visible by moving everything out of your wardrobe into a big pile. One by one, place each item in one of four piles: Love it, Keep it, Donate it and Reuse/Trash it. Take your time to really consider each item and make a list of everything you want to keep.
  2. The “Reuse it” pile is for clothes that are no longer fit for purpose. This can be single earrings, moth-ravaged sweaters and clothes with holes, or socks that are more hole than fabric — basically, anything that can’t realistically be fixed. If you can’t think of any practical ways to reuse these items, dispose of them in the most environmentally responsible way possible.
  3. Bag up the “Donate it” pile. Make sure these items are truly fit for donation. Can you imagine giving this to someone else as a gift? Would they get at least a year’s worth of use? For more ideas, see our article What To Do With Old Clothes and Does Goodwill Take Underwear, Bras & Socks? A Donation How-to.
  4. Box the “Keep it” pile and place it out of sight. Carver suggests that if after 30 days you don’t miss anything from the box, you should try to donate it as one more way to declutter your life.
  5. The “Love it” pile should be full of ‘signature’ items. Consider what makes you feel the best, even if it’s fancy. Having one well-made item is better than having 10 poorly made pieces. When you start dressing with less, you’ll start to pay attention to what you are wearing and value being comfortable.
  6. Choose the 33 items you want to wear out of the “Love it” pile for the next three months. Box up everything else, seal it shut and store it out of sight. The aim is to create a wardrobe you can work and play in for three months, not suffer through.

Utopia Tip: For the Project 333 “Reuse it” pile, consider all the ways you could repurpose these items. For example, single hoop earrings make useful stitch markers in knitting, and drop earrings can be made into gifts as one-of-a-kind necklace pendants. Clothes can be cut up into pillow stuffing or rags for dusting and cleaning or made into t-shirt rugs. Knitted sweaters can be “frogged” or unraveled and reused as yarn. Get creative!

During the first three months of your challenge, take notes. Ask yourself:

  • What do you find challenging about it?
  • What would you do differently in the next three months?
  • Which items do you think could be worn all year round?
  • Can you commit to not adding any new items during these months?

Since this challenge repeats every three months, it’s never too late to start! As you get used to the challenge and push yourself, you can apply more rules that can be found on the Project 333 website.

Why Should You Take the Project 333 Challenge?

Up to 60% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by consumerism, and over 80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed each year, largely due to the fast fashion industry. Since the minimalist approach of Project 333 advocates for consuming fewer products, producing less waste is an inevitable upshot of taking this challenge.

So, if you’re not ready to completely rejig your life but want to limit your negative impact on the environment, the simplest, most effective way to do this is to live a more minimalist lifestyle and practice conscious consumerism. And, by introducing aspects of minimalism into your life in increments — taking the Project 333 Challenge, for example — you are more likely to succeed overall.

The process of defining minimalism is extremely personal. Not everyone can or wants to live a completely minimalist lifestyle. Your definition of minimalism will be dependent on your needs and desires. At Utopia, we consider minimalism one of the best ways to invite passive environmentalism into your life.

However you personally define minimalism, curating a smaller, more conscious wardrobe guarantees benefits besides ways to reduce your carbon footprint, such as :

  • Learning what ‘enough’ means for you. Often, this leads to accumulating less debt from unnecessary purchases.
  • More time to do the things you love and to have nonmaterial experiences, which can result in better health and stronger relationships.
  • Less physical and mental clutter thanks to learning the art of self-discipline and gratitude.

Project 333 is a great way to start simplifying your life. Living with less creates time and space to discover what really matters. Since our wardrobes are so integral to everyday life, it’s the perfect way to build a habit of minimalism. Essentially, less time spent deciding what to wear every day equals more time spent actually living.

This is what minimalism is all about: the practice of removing the things that distract you from your life. However, changing a lifestyle takes time. That’s why the slow and gradual process of Project 333 is the perfect introduction for many to the world of minimalism.

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