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Original photo by Danielle Paisley

2024 Earth Day’s Guide to Sustainability: Thrifting, Upcycling, & Minimalism

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

In celebration of Earth Day, I have three tips on how to live a more sustainable life. This will range from thrifting tips and DIYs to upcycle items and living a minimalistic lifestyle (featuring four AMAZING content creators)!

Earth day Sustainability tip #1: Thrifting

Thrifting is one of the easiest and most fun ways to live a sustainable lifestyle! Who wouldn’t want to find a one-of-a-kind piece from an affordable treasure hunt? Grab some friends — hopefully you have opposite aesthetics or it might be awkward when they purchase the dress of your dreams — and get to it! 

Also, take inspiration from Pinterest and creators online! By having an idea of what you want, it will feel like you struck gold when you find it. Some of my favorite thrifting video creators are AlexaSunshine83 and Carrie Dayton. They make A LOT of great finds and they exude contagious positivity in every video. I highly recommend watching their videos for fashion advice and as something to help relax (it was a pleasure meeting them again back in November at the Rose Bowl Flea Market).

Earth day Sustainability tip #2: Upcycling

Fashion designer and upcycling genius, April AKA Coolirpa, shared some tips about getting involved in upcycling!

How did you get interested in thrifting and upcycling? What were your first projects?

  • “I’ve always been interested in fashion and coming up with outfits to wear since middle school but because I was a kid and didn’t have money for new clothes, I made use of what I had. My very first upcycle project was turning a pair of jeans into a vest, but because I didn’t know how to use my mom’s sewing machine, it was a fail. The threads were tangled, raw edges exposed, and it was too small for me (I didn’t know about seam allowance yet). I put aside sewing until I learned how to properly use a machine in high school which was when I became unstoppable. I would transform school t-shirts, take fabric scraps home from sewing class to practice sewing, and I even had my own design collection in the school fashion show which consisted of secondhand fabrics.”

How has upcycling positively impacted your lifestyle?

  • “Upcycling has positively impacted my lifestyle by teaching me how to be mindful about textile pollution, waste, and fast fashion. Because I go thrifting all the time I see how many new and barely worn clothes are being discarded, and every other item is from SHEIN which is why it became my mission to teach more people how to upcycle and alter their own clothes instead of buying new. Upcycling is great for the environment, can save you money, and allows you to express yourself in a creative way.”

What tips do you have for getting into upcycling as a beginner?

  • “My tips for getting into upcycling is to start with the clothes you already own. Can you alter a garment to be more flattering? Maybe shortening the length of a skirt or pants will make you want to wear it more? Starting with what you have doesn’t cost any money so you won’t feel too bad if you make mistakes. And speaking of mistakes, they always end up making the upcycle design more unique in the end, so embrace them and make them intentional.”

Earth day Sustainability tip #3: Minimalistic lifestyle

Being mindful about the amount of items you own and use is essential to sustainability (to be completely honest I need to work on this too). It can be overwhelming to over-consume with the affordable items at thrift stores, but buying items with a purpose is KEY! By only purchasing things that will serve a purpose and last you a long time, you will 1) have less clutter, 2) have a space with meaningful items that make you happy, and 3) make the Earth a happier place!

Jenelle Eliana‘s van life journey is one example of this. You don’t have to live in a van to be minimalistic; as a college student in the dorms, we have limited space and capabilities without a kitchen. By only keeping items that make a difference and serve a purpose, you can avoid clutter and keep a clearer headspace. Just don’t ask me for a picture of my room during midterm season (things sometimes get a little crazy then)!

happy earth day!

Happy Earth Day to all who celebrate! This is our planet and it’s our duty to take care of it. Good luck on your sustainability journey! <3

Danielle is a second-year from Temecula, CA. Her articles range from sharing interviews with influential figures, discussing the ups and downs of being a young woman in LA, and spreading positive energy through diverse stories! Happy reading!