How to shop less and better
Let me start by saying that sustainability in the fashion industry is an issue that is anything but simple. There is, thankfully, a lot of information out there to educate yourself to become a better consumer (for example, start by checking the fabulous Fashion revolution out). But I get it, it can be slightly overwhelming. So let me help you out here, and suggest a few basic, simple ways to become a mindful consumer.
A few years ago, when I first started learning about the dark side of fast fashion (you can read about it here) I felt awful just looking at my clothes and thinking about the potential damage they might have caused on the people who made them, as well as the long term effect of their materials on the environment. It was a huge wake up call that led me on a path to trying to become a more mindful consumer (read more about it here and here).
In an ideal world, your wardrobe should be full of sustainable and recyclable fabrics, such as cotton, linen, wool, and silk. Also, we would like our wardrobes to align with our values, and therefore come from fair and sustainable companies, which treat their employees fairly, and respect our beautiful earth by using sustainable practices. However, the reality is that often such companies can be really expensive and really unapproachable for the average consumer. But do not panic – here are five simple ways to become a more mindful consumer and do your bit in making fashion more sustainable.
5 easy steps to get you started on mindful consumerism
- Before diving into your wardrobe and throwing out everything that is from an evil fast fashion brand, and buying a whole new wardrobe from sustainable brands, take a breather. The First Rule of Sustainable Fashion Consumption is: your most sustainable item is the one that is already in your wardrobe.
- Do a proper closet audit, clean up the space, and try things on. You ‘ll be surprised at how many lovely tops lay crumpled at the bottom of your drawer (do I speak from experience? Yes, yes I do).
- Make lists! I do love a good list. I keep various lists, including some for my wardrobe, where I record the things that I actually need (very helpful to do this after you have accomplished the above point number 2). I also keep a wishlist – this actually helps me assess whether I actually really, really need that item, or whether it was just a temporary infatuation (goodbye lilac platform heels. Turns out you were not that versatile after all).
- This one is a fairly obvious one, but it doesn’t hurt repeating it and writing it in bold characters: shop second hand. If you are not a fan of charity shops, use apps such as Vinted, Depop, Ebay, or even Facebook marketplace. A lot of items in my wardrobe are second hand, and I do sell quite a lot myself. A trick here is to shop for brands you already know and love, so sizing should not be an issue.
- Sometimes you really, really need (or want, the line is always quite subtle here..) an item that is definitely not second hand, and most probably from a fast fashion company. I get it. But be smart – when shopping for something try to ask yourself a couple of questions: how would this fit in my existing wardrobe? Could I think of at least three outfits with this item? Check the quality – if it looks like the seams are going to come undone after the first wash, it is probably not worth your hard earned money.
Go on and stop mindless buying. Fighting overconsumption is as simple as that. It starts by taking a breath, and appreciating what you already have.
Useful advice Barbara. I often think I could repair my clothes more but I usually wear them till they are falling apart anyway. I really want to shop second hand more but I seem to never have the time to trawl around the charity & vintage clothes shops. What I need to do is make a day of it & incorporate some second hand bookshops as well as clothes shops ????
Yes! that sounds like an excellent plan 🙂 sign me up!