Reducing your fashion footprint isn’t as hard is it seems. You don’t need Gwyneth Paltrow’s absurd budget, nor should you feel compelled to retire your favorite dress in favor of a potato sack (*sigh of relief*). Going green means being educated about sustainable fashion and making small shifts that reflect our personal values. You don’t have to check off every box on the sustainable shopper check list; start by checking the boxes that matter most to you! Start with these five easy shifts to bring a little green to your fashion tastes.
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Research the brands you’re buying…but don’t sacrifice style.
Doing a little investigation into the business practices of the brands you buy is the one of the most important and easiest ways to become a more sustainable shopper. That trendy top from Zara might be cheap, but at what price? If you knew how it was made would you still buy it? If you knew it would only last a few washes before falling apart, would you still buy it?
Image Source: Everlane
Maybe your answer is yes…and that’s ok too! Researching the brands we shop is key to understanding a company’s practices and making our own informed decisions. There are so many fashionable brands that practice sustainable manufacturing. You don’t have to sacrifice your personal style in favor of going green. Some of my favorite brands include Everlane for my modern basics, People Tree for fun and unique accessories, and of course Veerah for my showstopping vegan shoes. Whatever your personal style might be, there are countless sustainable brands that will likely allow you to express your unique look. Check out this list of fair trade brands to get started! Or sign up to get my very detailed sustainable shopping guide when it is ready!
Invest in pieces that will last…but don’t break the bank.
I was always told to invest in experiences instead of things growing up. My wardrobe has the ability to enhance my experiences or hinder them. Walking into a job interview in a perfectly tailored blazer gives me that extra confidence boost to stand tall. Squeezing into ill-fitting jeans that were “a steal”? Those only serve to crush my mood and make me uncomfortable all day long.
Image Source: Everlane
The benefits of investing in a quality pair of flattering and comfortable jeans far outweigh the costs of buying three pairs of jeans that make you feel “ok.” Those jeans will probably fall apart after a few washes anyway. Spending a little bit more on quality clothes means they will last longer, fit better, and help you feel your best when you’re wearing them. I am not suggesting that you break the bank and shell out $200 for a designer t-shirt: but, treat yourself to a well made T-shirt that will last longer than three washes.
Image Source: Bead and Reel
We spend most of the day fully clothed, so why not put a “down payment” on items you will be excited to wear all the time and that will last you years instead of months? The cost per wear on a quality item that you can wear for years is less than the cost of throwing away a trendy piece of after only a handful of uses. Consuming less leads to less fashion waste — and a better wardrobe.
Embrace secondhand shopping…but don’t forget about the added benefits.
I used to think that secondhand shopping was not for me. I don’t want to sift through people’s unwanted dirty clothes. However, I am here to tell you from experience that the thrift shopping game has changed. There is truly a thrill to the treasure hunt of secondhand shopping. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to score a designer label at an affordable price.
Online shopping communities like ThredUp, Poshmark, and The Real Real have made is easier than ever to shop designer pieces at incredible prices. Thrifting also allows us to do our part in helping the environment, and to feel good about the purchases we make. Buying used items cuts down on major manufacturing costs and gives items a longer life which helps them to stay out of landfills.
I almost forgot to mention…you can make easy money selling items you no longer use! Clothing resale is now a $16 billion dollar industry. Sponsor your shopping budget and do good all at the same time: major karma points. It’s so easy to get paid for the boots you haven’t worn for the last two years. Just head over to sites like ThredUp, Poshmark, Vestiaire, The Real Real, or SnobSwap to sell your clothes with ease. This is a great excuse to clean out your closet and make some extra cash all the while you are helping the environment. Trade in your unwanted items and upgrade to pieces that you actually want to wear.
Shop… but don’t forget your new tote!
If you aren’t quite ready to commit to changing your shopping habits, that is totally ok! Maybe over time you will feel more connected to these issues…or maybe not. Either way, by shopping with a reusable tote, you can drastically reduce your footprint without leaving behind your long time favorite brands. Just to put this in perspective; if everyone in New York city used one less plastic bag per year, it would cut waste by 5 million pounds and save $250,000 in disposal costs. The lifespan of one reusable bag is equal to more than 700 plastic bags, not to mention they are much more stylish.
It can be easy being green.
Props to you for reading this article and educating yourself! You’ve taken the first step to reducing your fashion footprint. Taking an interest in how you can make a difference is already a step in the right direction. These are just some of my favorite practices as I journey towards becoming a greener consumer. I am by no means an expert. I am still learning how to further reduce my fashion footprint while satisfying my craving to create the perfect wardrobe capsule! I am not going to save the Earth by myself, but I know that making these small changes makes a big difference. Next time you pull out your wallet just remember that no change is too small to matter.
What kind of green habits do you guys practice? Do you have any tips or tricks to becoming a greener consumer?
Also published on Medium.