By Rocio Hernandez
Kara Gacovino, a University of Nevada, Reno senior, wore a different pair of pants for the first time in three weeks on Thanksgiving.
Gacovino was one of over 142 people that joined the 21 Day Project hosted by the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Reno club based at the University of Nevada, Reno. The project challenged people to limit themselves to 21 items of clothing to live with for three weeks. The 21 Day Project, which began on Nov. 6, aimed to simplify the lives of its participants and make room for spirituality.
“It’s hoped that after this project everybody that participated in it will be able to reevaluate [their] own lifestyles, maybe [they’ll] think about how [they] want to live after the three weeks,” Gacovino said.
Those who participated in the project did so for a variety of reasons. According to club member Mallory Morgan, she felt that she needed to join the challenge to “de-clutter” some aspects of her busy lifestyle and create space for her to be more in touch with God.
“It’s really easy to get distracted by the little everyday things in life and our lives get cluttered up without even meaning to,” Morgan said. “It’s been a good experience that has helped shift my life and my perspective and taught me to take things as they come instead of getting super paranoid or worried about the little stresses of school and things like that.”
Gacovino also saw the 21 Day Project as an opportunity to open herself up to issues such as poverty and social injustice.
“You’ve probably heard and said so many times, ‘Oh, I’m just a poor college student, I can’t afford this or I can’t spend money on this,’ but we are still some of the richest people in the world,” Gacovino said. “We see people who are richer than us, of course, in our country but when you look around most of the world, even in places here, in our own backyard, you’ll see people that maybe only have 21 articles of clothing or less.”
Initially, Morgan entered the challenge nervous and unsure of what to expect. The first hurdle Morgan had to get through was her weakness for shoes. According to her roommate, Lina Wolf, Morgan must own between 15 and 20 pairs of shoes. Wolf witnessed how difficult it was for Morgan to reduce a full closet to 21 articles of clothing.
“[Morgan] was stressing pretty hardcore because she is a bit of a clothes freak,” Wolf said. “She was having issues deciding what to pick out and her biggest struggle was in the shoes.”
Morgan said that the project forced her to prioritize, which is something that she feels that she has recently skimmed over. She limited herself to two pairs since each shoe counted as one item.
When she progressed further into the challenge, Morgan said that a wardrobe of only 21 items became manageable.
“This realization has shown me that I do have a lot of stuff, more than I probably need,” Morgan said. “Aside from that, it’s also shown me just how much God has blessed me throughout my life and as [his] follower, it’s my job to bless others with [his] blessings. I’m definitely going to think about that the next time I shop and the next time I go to clean out my closet and drawers.”
Another part of the 21 Day Project was the Free Garage Sale on Thursday, Nov. 20. The event was inspired by a passage in the Bible that told the story of a man challenged by Jesus to surrender all of his possessions in order to inherit eternal life. Club members were asked to find items that, despite having value, were inessential, to further eliminate materialistic elements in their lives for spiritual growth. Items that were given up included a television, iPods, sets of magic cards and books. These items were then displayed on a table outside of the Joe Crowley Student Union and given away to students that stopped by.
Gacovino said that the Free Garage Sale had the greatest impression on people observing the project. According to Gacovino, many of the individuals that stopped by the table and took something couldn’t believe that club members were giving away items in good condition.
“God definitely blessed people through it, both the people who gave and the people who received,” Gacovino said. “Someone gave away a guitar and the person who brought it home got a little emotional about it. It was just so unbelievable to him. It was unbelievable to me.”
Although the project has been over for five days, Morgan said that she would look for other ways that she can continue to simplify her life.
“I want to spend less on eating out and such and be more intentional about spending money on things and causes that actually matter,” Morgan said.
Rocio Hernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @rociohdz09.