The time is fast approaching! A month countdown begins today, before I leave the USA to serve in the Peace Corps for two whole years!!(yes, I’ll be nearing age 24 by the time I get back, crazy, I know)
Where am I going you wonder? Nicaragua, where i’ll be teaching environmental education to primary school children, the dream. Packing for a two year trip requires quite a bit of planning, especially if you’re like me and plan on being as environmentally friendly as possible, which means a lot of second-hand thrift shopping and clothes swapping with friends and family.
One of my goals as an environmental educator is to promote sustainability in all forms, and this means being a conscious consumer as I purchase and pack clothing, luggage, shoes, etc.
What’s the big deal with shopping around for new things anyway? Shopping used to be a trip to the mall, ordering online, basically buying anything and everything brand new. This didn’t bother me until I read the numbers…
- It takes 700 gallons of water to make a cotton t-shirt.
- The average American throws out about 82 pounds of textile waste per year.
- Clothes can take up to 40 years to decompose.
- Shoes can take up to a 1,000 years to break down.
- 95% of textiles cannot be recycled.
After reading figures like these, my immediate reaction was how can I contribute less to these statistics?!
The solution may not be convenient, but it’s certainly less expensive, less pollutive and better for the earth, which is a concern for Peace Corps volunteers who care about people and the planet. Shopping second hand for most of my Peace Corps needs was a fun challenge and one I know will shape my future experiences.
- 3 Denim Shorts
- 1 Khaki Short
- 1 Denim Skirt
- 3 Long Khakis
- 5 Pairs of Slacks
- 2 Rayon-stretch Pants
- 3 Dark-Denim Jeans
- 3 Long Skirts
- 1 Short Skirt
- 6 Pairs of Yoga Pants
- 2 Yoga Shorts
- 6 Cotton T-Shirts for Bed
- 1 Long Sleeve Spandex Shirt
- 2 Shorts Sleeve Spandex Shirts
- 9 Tank Tops
- 4 Long Sleeve Tops
- 4 Collard Shirts
- 6 Cotton Shirts
- 3 Blouses
- 3 Strappy Tops
- 4 Dresses
- 1 Pair of Overalls
- 1 Sweatshirt
- 1 Rain Jacket
- 1 Cotton Jacket
- 1 Bandana
- 2 Swimsuits
- 30x Underwear (This I would not recommend buying second hand… when put in a situation like this where you must by new, I try my best to shop organic, fair-trade. My favorite brand by far is: PactOrganic)
- 30x Socks (Same rule applies for socks, if you can try to go organic and fair trade)
Where to find second hand clothes? I found most of the above at: Goodwill, Poshmark(Online Clothing Buy/Sell), Housing Works, City Opera Thrift Shop, and from the closets of friends and family(Shout out to you guys, you rock). Local thrift stores are all over the place and many of them partner with great charities and organizations to raise money for HIV Prevention and Awareness, Train people for Careers, Fight Homelessness, support the LGBTQ Community and so much more. There are several pros to thrifting!
- New Balance
- Hiking Boots
- Slip On Canvas Shoes
- Flip Flops
*Tip: When buying used shoes you can disinfect them with a natural homemade mix of things you can find in your fridge like vinegar and lemon.
(My sister thrifted and gifted this fitting little miss green T, thanks Sam)
- Macbook /Macbook Charger(Laptop is a must)
- Compact Converter
- DSLR Camera (2x Lenses)
- Power Bank/Travel Light
- Phone/ Phone Charger
- External Hard Drive
- Headlight + Extra Batteries
- Extension Chord
- Headphones (x2)
- Flashdrive (x2)
- Battery Powered Alarm Clock
- Extra Batteries
- Digital Watch/FITBIT (Great to track miles/calories without the use of gym equipment)
- Bamboo Toothbrush/Case (x5) (I like these because they are compostable but obviously you can find these in country)
- Toothpaste (You can purchase toothpaste or 3 simple ingredients to make your own)
- Face Wash (You can bring your own, use African Black Soap or make your own with local ingredients)
- Shampoo/Conditioner (You can bring your own or make your own with local ingredients, I use Baking Soda + Apple Cider Vinegar)
- Soap/Soap Holder (African Black Soap is magic and can be used for practically all washing needs like face wash + shampoo)
- Deodorant (You can purchase or make your own with local ingredients, I just use baking soda! Works like a charm)
- Menstrual Cup (Zero Waste alternative to Tampons or Pads, Saves you $$$ + good for the planet, highly recommend)
- Hair Brush
- Hair Ties/Clippers
- Quick Dry Towels (x2)
- Shower Bag
- Natural Loofa (Compostable)
- Nail Clippers/Files
- Natural Sunscreen
- Essential Oils (Great for Skin Treatment, bug bites, relaxation, headaches, all around soothing)
- Tiger Balm
- Aloe Vera (Can be used as moisturizer and for any burns!)
- Chapstick (You can purchase or make yourself with local ingredients)
100% Recycled Biodegradable Packaging, BPA Free, Phthalate Free, PVC Free, Biodegradable & Compostable
Lifetime Razor, almost 100 years old belonged to my great grandpa during the 1930’s. Besides the sentimental value behind this razor, I am happy to find a razor that isn’t a plastic disposable, and even better allows you to sharpen the blade over and over again. You can actually still purchase a Rolls Razor on EBay.
100% Biodegradable floss, no waste here.
This sunscreen is non-toxic and cruelty free. Most sunscreen finds its way into ocean waters and bleaches coral, however, this brand, Raw Elements is safe for you and the planet.
- Plenty of Pens/Pencils
- Whiteboard Markers/Regular Markers
- Index Cards
- WATER BOTTLE (32 oz. Preferably)
- Baseball Cap
- Cotton Sheet set
- Comfy Pillow
- Reusable Canvas Bags
- Stainless Steel Straw
- Pocket Knife
- Card Games
- Light-Weight Robe
- Hiking Packpack
- Gardening Gloves/Tools (For enviro volunteers)
- Jump Rope (Aside from running, i’m assuming it’s gonna be a challenge getting a decent workout)
- Pictures of Family + Friends
- Yoga Mat
- French Press
This blog post will be a work in progress up until the day I leave; I will continue adding content as I gather more things and discover any useful tips for Peace Corps packers!
This blog represents my own thoughts and opinions. They do not directly reflect those of the U.S. Peace Corps or Nicaragua