My "Be More Chill" Conscious Budget

The Math:

Total Budget: $1000
Total Spent:  $1022
Total Labor: $125
Total spent on materials: $897.88
Non Conscious sources: Amazon, Burlington, Beauty Supply stores, JoAnne: $109.91
Conscious Sources: Value Village, Unique, Poshmark, Community Forklift: $787.97
Total percent on Conscious Sources: 87.8%

Beginning each project, I try to plan out where I can purchase each item. Some things lend themselves obviously to purchase from quick and easy sustainable sources like thrift stores (yes, I know resale is problematic but let me have this win, okay?) When designing Be More Chill, I was struck by simply one thing: the show is F-ING HUGE. Well, bigger than I’d expected at least. Fifty-six looks at first pass with a budget of just one thousand dollars. With a tech week contingency plan of ten percent, that left just sixteen dollars per look, a tight budget for anyone but even harder when considering my goals for sustainability.

Photo by RJ Pavel, Be More Chill, Monumental Theatre Co., Directed by Izzy Smelkinson, Scenic Design by Simone Schneeberg, Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton, Sound Design by Jordana Abrenica

Photo by RJ Pavel, Be More Chill, Monumental Theatre Co., Directed by Izzy Smelkinson, Scenic Design by Simone Schneeberg, Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton, Sound Design by Jordana Abrenica

Photo by RJ Pavel, Be More Chill, Monumental Theatre Co., Directed by Izzy Smelkinson, Scenic Design by Simone Schneeberg, Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton, Sound Design by Jordana Abrenica

Photo by RJ Pavel, Be More Chill, Monumental Theatre Co., Directed by Izzy Smelkinson, Scenic Design by Simone Schneeberg, Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton, Sound Design by Jordana Abrenica

Join me and use #MyConsciousBudget to consider how much of your budget is going to environmentally and ethically conscious sources!

Fortunately, there are now more sources than ever for online clothing resale that help find just the right item. My best friend for accomplishing the build of BMC was Poshmark. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything (though that link does lead to my store), I just found it to be a terrific tool for finding items that were really specific or out of season. I was able to purchase a lightly used faux leather jacket for just $15, a sequin mini skirt for $9, and the perfect sneakers for $12.

In addition to these low-cost, second-hand costume pieces, I took advantage of every opportunity I could to find materials for free. As with any production, I look to my community for potential sources. In this case, I was able to borrow from two local companies with great success! Fortunately, they do not charge for rentals so I was able to get some fantastic costume pieces for free. My network is absolutely essential for creating sustainable costumes on a tight budget.

Next place I was able to find free materials was looking at found objects. Again, here I reached out to my community but in this case it was to the cast, Freecycle, and Craigslist in search of electronic cords or anything “techy” looking to help bring cyborgs to life. The cast and creative team obliged, and I was gifted a huge bag of old chargers, ethernet cables, and other cords. These were used on the Squip costume primarily. There were originally a series of costumes that required cables as a part of ensemble costumes but those were cut early in the tech process so it turned out that I’d acquired far too much in the way of cords and tubes. These costume pieces for the ensemble characters also made use of other found objects around my studio. I used some old heavyweight cotton as the foundation and glued that to pieces of Tyvek mailing envelope for support instead of purchasing and using more expensive, and brand new, interfacing.

Photo of Squip ensemble “shoulder pads,” eventually these were cut.

Photo of Squip ensemble “shoulder pads,” eventually these were cut.

Photo by RJ Pavel, Be More Chill, Monumental Theatre Co., Directed by Izzy Smelkinson, Scenic Design by Simone Schneeberg, Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton, Sound Design by Jordana Abrenica

Photo by RJ Pavel, Be More Chill, Monumental Theatre Co., Directed by Izzy Smelkinson, Scenic Design by Simone Schneeberg, Lighting Design by Helen Garcia-Alton, Sound Design by Jordana Abrenica

I was able to use in stock fabric for many different costume pieces, this saved me budget on this very tight show but also used fabrics in my stock rather than buying new. Many of these fabrics had been sourced second hand in the first place or were leftover from other costumes I’d made in the last 10 years. Another unusual object I used was vinyl bedding bags, the big clear zippered ones that new comforters or “bed in a bags” come in. Rather than buying new vinyl, my draper took apart these bags which were purchased for only $1.50 a piece and created vinyl yardage to be used in the Squip’s skirt.

Please join me in examining the percentage of your budget that is spent on more conscious sources. This could include natural fibers where you might have used synthetic in the past, it could be organic cotton, recycled polyester, second hand, US made or anything else that just moves the needle in a slightly better direction. Tweet or Instagram your results with the hashtag #myconsciousbudget with your percentage so we can all try to do better! This one was an outlier for me, soon I will be posting about a very different project in every way and I don’t think I was nearly as successful in my percentage!