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My personal sustainable story

Written by Carley Johnson

In October 2019, I left Australia on a trip of a lifetime. My dream was to travel the world living in a new city every month, whilst still running my fashion consultancy remotely.

To achieve this new life of freedom, with no strings attached, my partner & I decided to sell the contents of our flat in Melbourne and opposed to storage. We want to prove that it is possible to live a minimalist lifestyle and we wanted to really challenge what you truly need in life, in terms of physical things. So we each packed a 25kg suitcase and off we went!

This may seem like the ultimate dream, it is, but it comes with a lot of research, determination and planning. Daily I still work around 7 hours on average and this can be at a paid co-working space which enables me to network, as well as work, or simply from the living room of my accommodation. I personally still work best with structure, therefore our evenings and weekends are for exploring a new city and taking in the culture.

Life now exists out of a suitcase and temporary accommodation. Sometimes the accommodation is plentiful and other times it is not. But it is all about what you make of it. I have learnt to cook a chicken in a rice cooker and learnt to find the locals market as soon as you arrive, for all the best deals and tips. The best way to travel is to immerse yourself in their culture and live like a local. This will really help you appreciate their life, their happiness and their challenges.

So far we have mainly travelled through Asia, where the countries we have visited have a vast amount of beauty mainly sunsets, markets, nature, however with pockets of poverty and pollution. Through seeing a large number of waste problems in these countries it really is our responsibility in the western world as consumers to help and reduce this problem. We all need to be consciously aware of what we buy and its life-cycle. What happens when you throw it away? Does it actually go away? No. These life lessons I am learning through travelling and it is helping to shape my future not only my personal life but the work I do with fashion brands in my consultancy.

I have realised from being a consumer who lived in the western world, that we surround ourselves with so much unnecessary ‘stuff’! The physical need should be safety and comfort, not greed. There is a huge problem with overconsumption, led by brands as well as demand. We need to stop buying it because we can, and buy what we need. Since embarking on this trip I have really learnt what you can live without in life and this was inspired by the locals.

Working in fashion, and only having one suitcase has been challenging, I am not going to lie! But now it really is a case of thinking about how you can reinvent something and make it look different. I am now a pro at knotting my tops, accessorising and learning new hairstyles, just to make something look new. We all need to take a look at what we have in our wardrobes and think of creative ways to reuse it over and over. I do still believe in buying new items, however, I will now only buy sustainably made fashion and not overdo what is truly necessary.

We have now lived in 6 countries and remain on the road, COVID-proofing as we go. If and when we return to life in Melbourne, we have decided that we won’t fill our lives with material possessions again and we will make considered choices and buy only what we need. Life will continue to be built around experience and making memories.

We aim to continue living this dream for as long as we can and our aim is to encourage others to do the same. Through taking a step back, and away from western life and overconsumption it really does make you appreciate the minimal things you need in life and through this change, I have definitely grown as a person.

Learn to love the world!