How to Shop More Sustainably (and Ethically)
Often the term “sustainable shopping” has a negative connotation of compromisation when it comes to buying clothes.
Unquestionably, the choices are limited compared to high street fashion, but sustainable clothing brands are living up to the challenge. They help you look good while doing good for the planet at the same time.
However, reducing textile waste goes beyond choosing eco-conscious brands. You need to rethink your shopping habits and shape your wardrobe in the most environment-friendly way.
In this post, we have shared insightful tips that will help you become a sustainable shopper. Remember that it is not an overnight thing. It will take conscious efforts and a lot of mistakes on your part, but completely worth the transformation.
Let’s dive in!
Choose the right piece of clothing
Go with natural fabrics
Picking fabric with a low carbon footprint is the starting point of a sustainable shopping journey.
That means, steer clear of polyester, nylon, and rayon (viscose).
Usually, clothing items made from cotton, silk, wool, jute, linen, Tencel (lyocell), and hemp are good to go. Since they are biodegradable, you can recycle or compost them once they are worn out.
However, keep in mind that every natural fiber has its own grade of sustainability. Some are more environment-friendly than others, depending on how they are blended, dyed, and processed.
You can take a deep dive into the sustainability factors of various fabrics in this guide.
Prefer timeless over trendy pieces
It might feel counterintuitive to fashionistas but look at it as a versatile wardrobe makeover.
With a little mix and match, you can create new looks with all-year-around clothing pieces and accessories. It’s fun and aligns with an eco-conscious lifestyle choice.
When it comes to building a sustainable wardrobe, follow the mantra: Buy cheap, buy twice.
There’s no denying that eco-conscious clothes are pricey compared to fast fashion outfits. However, they are designed to last longer and are worth every penny.
Besides, if you think about it, your overall fashion spend would be the same or maybe less in the long run.
Change your shopping habits
Beat the urge to impulse buying
Not only it helps you save the environment but also big bucks wasted on outfits you’ll barely wear once in your lifetime.
Impulse buying is something we are all too familiar with. Overcoming that urge to own a statement piece takes self-control, which can only be mastered with time.
The first step is to recognize that feeling. Whenever you’re trying on an outfit, ask yourself these questions:
Will I wear it at least 20 times?
Do I actually need it, or is it a valueless addition to my wardrobe?
Is the fabric sustainable and made to last?
Impulse buys often happen around sale items. Walking out on a tempting deal might feel like a loss at that moment, but you’ll eventually realize it’s for the greater good.
Buy less, wear more
Rather than a wardrobe brimming with one-hit wonders, how about having a handful of comfy conscious pieces that see you through all seasons?
Simply put, you should prioritize quality over quantity. It’s a minimalist approach that will help in curbing textile waste.
Purchasing top-notch sustainable clothes will definitely cost you more, but they will last a lifetime. In the end, it all boils down to shifting your mindset.
Before you go shopping
Research your favorite brands
Ignorance is not bliss in the greener side of the world. Whether you are shopping online or at a store, do your homework on your favorite brands beforehand.
Start off with these questions:
Are they practicing sustainability?
From where are the materials sourced?
Is the processing environment-friendly?
Do they use recycled packaging?
What delivery methods do they use?
On the upside, it’s quite easy to put together the bigger picture now more than ever. You can dig into the brand website or reach out to them on social media and ask directly.
Look for labels and certifications
Checking out certifications will help you further analyze the credibility of a brand.
Remember that not every sustainable brand or business will have a label to showcase their alignment towards helping the environment. However, that does not mean they are not ethical.
Don’t forget to carry a tote bag
Buying conscious clothes only to bring them home in a plastic bag negates the whole point of sustainable shopping.
Make a note to carry a sustainable tote bag when you step out of your house. It looks stylish, gets the job done, and is quite convenient to carry around. In fact, each reusable bag has the potential to replace around 20,000 disposable plastic bags.
Check out this butterfly shopping tote by Everything Bags Inc.
Explore sustainable shopping opportunities
Try secondhand shopping
Hit up charity shops, thrift stores, or go online shopping. There are many sites like eBay, thredUP, Poshmark, Facebook Marketplace that offer secondhand clothing items. You might score something unique or your favorite label at a fraction of a price.
The best part about buying secondhand is that there’s no additional waste involved in it. Moreover, it helps you save money while offering amazing additions to your wardrobe.
Rent one-of-a-kind outfits for special occasions
It only makes sense to not splurge on outfits that you will barely wear maybe once or twice.
That said, we definitely do not suggest you compromise your look for important events like weddings, parties, or conferences.
Renting designer clothes is both a pocket-friendly and environment-friendly option. It’s like having a fashion-forward closet that takes up no space!
Shop at local stores
By shopping locally, you can contribute to the growth of the local community and protect the planet. Besides, the clothing items at local stores are not mass-produced. Therefore, there’s a high chance for you to get a unique design over there.
Another perk of shopping at a local store is that, unlike online stores, you can try on the outfit before buying it. There’s no hassle of return or exchange.
Now, we would like to hear from you. What are your sustainable shopping tips? Share with us in the comments section below.