My friend recently sent me this image (shoutout to Nicole!) and it really got me thinking about my own shopping habits. I think people think that in order to have an ethical wardrobe, you need to spend a lot of money. Luckily, this is rarely the case. In fact, shopping ethically can actually help you save money in the long haul. I really like the simplicity of this graphic so I decided to share and explain my experience going through each of these five steps.
5. Support Ethical Brands
If you do need to buy something new (and sometimes we just do), then it is important to shop as much as possible from ethical brands. Ten years ago, this may have been a bit difficult. Now with the surge of interest in environmentally-friendly fashion, you can get just about anything made ethically and sustainably! Check out this article by The Good Trade to find all of your ethical fashion needs!
4. Buy Vintage or Second Hand
This is the most sustainable way to shop. It literally creates no additional environmental impact. I think that this is what most people think of when they think of sustainable fashion: having to scrounge around GoodWill or the Salvation Army, picking through smelly or stained clothing that people no longer wanted. Thankfully this is not the case. There are so many great vintage and second-hand(or as I like to call them, “consignment”) shops no matter where you look. Sure you may walk away empty-handed more often than not, but I like the thrill of the hunt that comes along with shopping this way. And not everything needs to be unfashionable: I now own more designer pieces that I did before I started checking out consignment shops. Burberry, AG Jeans, Louis Vuitton, Armani, The Row, and Vivienne Westwood are just some labels that I’ve been able to grab. There is no way I could afford any of these pieces if I hadn’t bought them second-hand.
3. Go For Clothes that Are High Quality & Durable
I think we can all attest to buying a piece of clothing from Forever 21 or H&M, only to have it get a hole after only a handful of wears. Clothing is now made so cheaply and poorly that people often have no qualms throwing it away after it rips or snags. A well-made item of clothing will last for much longer, and although may be more of an investment upfront, it will actually end up saving you money in the long-run. Think about it: let’s say 1 ethically-made t-shirt costs $35. It’s fast-fashion counterpart costs $5. The ethical t-shirt will be able to be worn for a long time, making it’s cost-per-wear very low. The cheap t-shirt will probably rip or stretch out after a few wears, causing you to need to constantly replace it. Paying $5 each time will add up fast.
2. Shop Less, Choose Better: Only Buy Pieces You Love 100%
This is something that I have been working on recently. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought something without completely loving it, only to donate it six months later because it was never worn. Now I don’t buy anything unless it really gets my heart pumping. I have been buying things a lot less because of this. Also, when you truly love something, it automatically becomes sustainable because of how much use you get out of it!
1. Value and Take Good Care of the Clothes You Already Own
Another one I am really starting to embrace. I never saw much point in bringing things to the dry cleaner, or reading the care labels. If something wore about or ripped, I could just go buy something to replace it. I am really trying not to do that anymore. Buying better quality items definitely helps. Not only are they less likely to wear as quickly, but when they do, you don’t mind spending a bit of time or money getting it repaired. You’ll be amazed at how long an item’s lifespan is if you take good care of it and treat it well!