A Tale of 2 Vegan Bags: May Wartime Wardrobe Challenge Update

In January 2013, I started participating in the Wartime Wardrobe Challenge, put forth by Little House in Town and The Double Life of Mrs M.  In short, it's a clothes-rationing project focused on ethical consumption.  Factoring in ecological and labor standards, items are assigned a "price" (i.e. 2 coupons, 4 coupons, no coupons) and you spend up to your maximum of 66 coupons for the year.  Obviously the nastier the item is for workers and/or the environment, the more coupons you lose.

My interest in participating in this challenge is that it gives me a novel way to track my purchases and offers a re-framing of consumption habits.  I think it's interesting that when all people were buying less, it made a certain baseline level of consumption the norm and therefore it wasn't seen as impossible or weird.  However, nowadays, there is a huge culture of consumption and I find it funny (and sad...and frightening...and interesting) that we have to invent projects or challenges in order to buck the current social climate of consumption.  It is now an event to consume differently.


The tale of two bags.  This month is not nearly as bad as last month.  This month I did what I do best - I bought bags.  A little vinyl vintage blue supposedly cross-body bag via Etsy and a gray cross-body bag from Herbivore.  

I say the blue vintage one is supposedly cross-body because the strap is too short (non-adjustable).  It's a cross-body bag for a 10 year-old.  Sadly, I did read the description, which included strap measurements.   I sort of pretended that I could estimate what that would look like on me, which involved using my work desk ruler and sort of holding it up to me three times in succession as if I was building a bag strap path with a plastic ruler.  Tailors and sewists everywhere would die if they saw me do that.  And I yielded what I sowed, baby - shoddy measurements.  So, still figuring out if I can use it in some way.

blue bag 2

The gray cross-body bag was from Herbivore.  I had already ordered the blue bag but saw this one and thought, "Hmmm, what if I can't use that blue bag?  It would be okay to have two cross-body bags."  Basically, I have ESP.  I didn't see any labor standards on the bag's tags or posted in the store so we took to the internet to research Missco Girl and they seemed to check out okay.  Excerpted from the Lawfully Chic Missco Girl post:

missco girl gray bag

“The materials we use abide by the standards set by the EU so no toxic chemicals are used and any waste is disposed of appropriately – unlike a lot of non-leather bags on the high street which are made out of PVC and have no guidelines as to their manufacture and disposal.”
All of Missco Girl’s bags are made in a factory that has been assessed and certified by BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative), meaning there is no child labour, no hazardous working environment, no underpay and no long working hours.

Unfortunately I cannot find an official Missco Girl website, only a Missco Girl Facebook page, which has none of this information but instead, a bunch of inspirational quotes and bag pictures.  It always floors me when companies have good standards and don't tout them.  Tout them, companies!  We'd like to know if you are good or if you suck!  Please make it easy for me to find this information straight from your mouth!  (Or website.  You don't have to call me.)

I also bought a feral cat-themed t-shirt at an animal welfare conference - Ask Me About My Colony.  This t-shirt should separate the poseur cat ladies from the real cat ladies because real cat ladies do TNR.  I'm throwing down the gauntlet.  (T-shirt is USA-made but new.)

Here's what I charged myself for May 2013 (10 coupons):
Vintage bag (reuse):  0 coupons   $20, @ Etsy
Missco Girl bag:  5 coupons  $60,  @Herbivore
Cat t-shirt:   5 coupons, $20, at conference

You can find my previous Wartime Wardrobe Challenge updates here:
January 2013 Update = 0 Coupons, 2 items purchased total ($42 total) for 2013

February 2013 Update = 0 Coupons,  2 items purchased total ($42 total) for 2013

March 2013 Update = 15 Coupons, 5 items purchased total ($288 total) for 2013

April 2013 Update = 10 Coupons, 7 items purchased total ($378 total) for 2013

May 2013 Update = 10 Coupons, 10 items purchased total ($478 total) for 2013


  35 Coupons Total Spent Out of 66
for 2013!
That comes out to an average of $95 per month, 7 coupons per month, and 2 items per month.  If you are a nerd, you will like to know that.  I did!  At this rate I'll be 18 Ration Coupons over my limit by December so it's obvious I need to scale back a little if I'm to pretend I can exist with as little as the wartime folks were allowed.

Now, I fully understand that wartime rations were not a fun celebration and that people likely resented them and would buy 500 nylons and 90 frocks if they were allowed.  So it's a little strange to try to do something others were forced to do in the past.  But this challenge is supposed to get me thinking about what "normal" purchasing is, what I can do without, and the scarcity of resources.  Scarcity of resources is a big one.  Big.


  1. I think I might participate in this challenge belatedly!

    1. Ms. Boring - there's no time like the present! I've found it surprising how much I buy that I wouldn't necessarily even remember and find myself trying to justify purchases against the challenge at times. It's been a good yardstick for me, and I had originally considered myself a careful consumer

  2. If you have so little to spend over the year, I'm wondering why a new bag would be purchased at all? Not a criticism, just a question.

    1. Good question! I had a Matt & Nat cross body bag I got at a stoop sale for $2 years ago and recently found it to be pretty useful. My first step was to look for a vegan + used one, which is who I ordered the blue bag via Etsy. I ran into the gray Missco bag in Portland while I was at Herbivore and really liked it - it seemed more functional than the blue one due to its size and partitions and I started getting concerned that if the blue one wasn't what I needed (since I hadn't yet seen it), I might not be able to get the Missco one again (Herbivore only had 1 gray one in the store, it wasn't on their site and the Missco site didn't look like you could shop from it and they mainly had a FB page). Also, I really like Herbivore so I did want to support them - I wouldn't have just purchased anything but since I was interested in this bag anyway, that was a tiny bit of incentive.

    2. Annnnd I just realized I didn't include the actual reason why. The M&N bag started ripping on the side and since I use the small cross body bag a lot, I wanted a replacement for it. I was initially hoping the cotton Baggu bag I got would suffice but it lays weird so I only ever use it as a tote. So the blue bag was supposed to replace the old Matt & Nat bag that I got a few years ago at a stoop sale.

  3. I have a solution to your blue bag problem: Use some of your coupons to buy yourself a 10-year-old vegan.

  4. Loving keeping up with the Wartime wardrobe challenge. I have seen some amazing bags by Misco girl so great to learn that they are also much more eco friendly than many non leather bags.


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