One Pair of Shorts

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I recently read the book Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson. As the title would lead one to believe, this is an environmentalist book, recommended by my eco-savvy friend Melissa (who, even though she is super eco-conscious, cautioned that Zero Waste is “a bit extreme”… She was right. I will not be making my own mascara any time soon, thank-you-very-much).

Yet, as I read, I realized just how closely environmentalism and minimalism are intertwined. Johnson not only inspired me to make some small environmentally friendly changes, like using cloth napkins and trying my darndest to remember to bring my own mug to Starbucks (score one for me today!), but she also pushed me to make some minimalist changes as well.

Hence, this one pair of shorts.


This is the only pair of shorts I currently own. (Okay, okay… I have an athletic pair for running, too. I’m not going to be that girl running in denim shorts… I don’t even know who that girl is, but she definitely doesn’t have blog followers… or the kind of blog followers I want, anyway.)

Johnson owns one pair of shorts and she lives in California, for Pete’s sake. I live in Ohio, where shorts are not recommended for most people, especially those of us who hail from European descent (holy white legs, Batman!).

So why and how did I decide to cut down to one pair of shorts? Oh, let me count the ways:

1. I wore them all the time anyway. When I looked at my shorts collection, this pair was always on top. The rest were too short, too long, or could only be worn on temperamental days, such as the ever-elusive “skinny days” or “days in which I’m sure I won’t spill anything on these white shorts.” (Note: I was usually wrong about those days.) If I wasn’t wearing my other pairs, why keep them?

2. It’s easier to have less. This is the reason I went minimalist in the first place: The less stuff you have, the easier your life is. If your kids have less toys, clean-up is easier. If you have less dishes, your cupboards are easier to clean. If you have less clothes, it’s easy to decide what you’re wearing that day. I’m a mom. I don’t have the luxury of spending 20 or 30 minutes putting together an outfit. I’m happy if I’m wearing clothes (and if they’re clean? Bonus!).

3. Speaking of cleaning… I do wash these shorts. About once a week or so. I’m not sure if that’s too much or not enough. I find that jeans look and fit better after a few wears. I have a casual skirt that I wear on wash days and if they get dirty before then? I just wash them. We’re living in the blessed era of washing and drying machines, folks. It really doesn’t take that long. (Plus, knowing that your only pair of shorts is in the laundry is a good reminder to get those clothes out of the dryer!)

4. It’s not necessarily forever. Even I can be a bit of a wuss when it comes to getting rid of things. When I selected my one pair of shorts, I put the others in a box in my closet, a kind of a clothing purgatory, where I let them sit for awhile to decide if I can truly live without them. If they hang out in there long enough, they go. If I decide I want them back, welcome home. But it’s July–high summer in Ohio–and none of them have re-emerged. I think they’re headed off to that glorious white-legged paradise in the sky… or the local Goodwill, often confused with a glorious white-legged paradise.

I realize that owning one pair of shorts might sound extreme, but what’s really weird is that it doesn’t feel that way. It feels… easy. I know the shorts I wear all summer will fit and look great. I know the ones I let go will be used by someone else who needs them more than I do. Those are both good things.

My daughter agrees… these shorts look great with this shirt! And with all my other shirts… 😉

I probably wouldn’t have cut down to just one pair of shorts when I first started minimizing, but like all things, minimizing is a process. I might find another pair of shorts I love and introduce them into my wardrobe. No sweat. I don’t believe in having a prescribed number of clothes or possessions. I believe in owning what you love and use. No more. No less.

Perhaps I’ve inspired you to reconsider your clothing collection. Do you have a favorite article of clothing that is always on top of the pile? Do you really need or want the clothes beneath it? Could you cut down to just the clothes you love? Give it a try. And let me know how it goes!

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