5 Ways to Shop More Sustainably

Did you know that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries on earth?

It takes gallons of water to make a single shirt and every new item of clothing that is made leaves a hefty carbon footprint. Learning to shop more sustainably not only helps the environment but can also provide us with a new perspective on clothing.

If you’re interested in sustainable shopping, I recommend doing the following before you go.

1. Read up on fast fashion.

Recently, the phrase “fast fashion” has been showing up more on social media that you might find yourself wondering what it is exactly.

According to Merriam Webster, fast fashion is “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” Since these clothes are made quickly in response to new emerging trends, they are made by overworked, poorly paid employees and with poor quality materials.

Fast fashion retailers introduce multiple new items of clothing in a short period of time, as they are focused on turning out the most profit, and are not as concerned with other elements such as quality control or environmental impact. Some examples of these types of retailers include Topshop, Forever 21, and Fashion Nova.

If you would like to learn more about the repercussions of fast fashion, I suggest reading this New York Times article and this Wall Street Journal article.

2. Buy less.

Nowadays, it is so easy to go on your phone, find a sale at your favorite store, and place items in your cart without thinking. We tend to buy more clothes than we actually need and follow trends that only last for a short while. 

A key to becoming a more sustainable shopper is to recognize your shopping habits and learn how to rectify them. Perhaps you always find yourself buying the latest trend, wearing it for less than six months, then never touching it again. Stop chasing the latest trends, and instead, start buying timeless pieces that you’ll be able to wear for the next several years.

Spend your money on a few pieces of quality clothing from responsible brands. By choosing to spend your money intentionally on well-made, simple pieces, you ensure that you’re building a closet that will last you for years rather than just for one season.

3. Thrift and shop locally.

Thrifting and shopping from local brands are both great and easy ways to shop more sustainably. When you thrift, you are doing your part to prevent extra clothes from being produced, which can have many negative repercussions. A plus side of thrifting is that you never know what cool, vintage styles you’ll find. 

When we buy from fast fashion brands, we don’t know where the clothes are being sourced from. The clothes are often made with toxic chemicals and dyes that are released into the air and water of the surrounding area, which has catastrophic environmental effects. 

However, when you buy locally, you know exactly where your clothes are being sourced, and often, are going to receive quality pieces. Buying locally also supports your community so it’s truly a win-win.

4. Look up eco-friendly brands. 

There are many brands out there that are committed to fighting against fast fashion and are doing their part to produce sustainable clothing.

By becoming more conscious about our individual purchases, we have the chance to make a positive impact on the earth and the people who make our clothing.

Completely shifting your wardrobe to sustainable clothing may not be easy, but once you do your research and discover responsible brands, you may find that you love your new wardrobe even more.

If you’re interested in learning about sustainable brands, take a look at this article from Good Housekeeping. I do recommend doing your own research, but this article is a good place start.

5. Donate and consign.

If you believe your wardrobe is overflowing, in addition to buying less, a good rule of thumb to follow is “one in, one out.” When you buy a new piece of clothing, try letting go of one piece of clothing.

There are many nonprofit organizations that love to receive clothing donations so make sure that you never “throw out” clothes, but rather, give them to a person in need.

You can also consign your old clothing. There are many consignment stores across America, you only have to look for one near you. 

Friendly reminder: when you donate or consign old clothing, make sure it is just gently used.

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It’s important that we, as consumers, become aware of where we buy our clothes and what those companies are doing to be ethical and eco-friendly.

Transparency in the fashion industry is a crucial step to becoming more sustainable, so let’s do our part and learn where clothes come from and reconfigure our closets to be more sustainable.

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