i’ve been doing a lot of research lately about buying and wearing clothes in a sustainable way. if you know me, it’s no secret that i love to shop. i do it all the time. when i am not at the mall, i am online shopping. if i am not doing one of those two things, i am at least thinking about items i want to buy. for practical reasons, such as saving money or just being normal, i have decided to cut way back on my spending. not necessarily because i need to, but more so because i want to simplify my life.
currently, i have put off shopping until august. the only places i can spend money are pure barre (to work out) and the grocery store (to live obviously). this is actually pretty hard for me since retail therapy had always been my go to in times of stress. but, since i have cut out shopping, i find that working out or cooking or spending time with friends helps dissipate my stress more so than when i would go shopping. but this little “no shopping” stint got me thinking about much bigger issues.
ultimately, i ended up making a huge decision to change my lifestyle. i will no longer buy clothes that are not sustainable. now of course there are some exceptions to this rule. buying certain gifts for people or a specific piece of clothing can always be tricky, but as much as possible, i will try to stick with it.
it was really hard to make this decision. shopping sustainably means cutting out a ton of different stores and brands. i started out by watching “the true cost” on netflix and it began to change my perspective. if you haven’t seen it yet, and are interested, it is a very powerful documentary that i would highly recommend. so many aspects about the fast fashion industry, or just the clothing industry in general, are unfair and ultimately end up harming our environment. i went onto the true cost website and from there i started to explore more articles about human rights and environmental impact. obviously after i began learning more about this topic, i knew i needed to make a change.
i started out with a very basic google search of “shopping sustainably”. vogue had a really simple and straight forward piece that i clicked on first. it was the perfect starting point for me. they give you 5 things that you can focus on to shop more sustainably. slowly, i began to build on top of that. being a supply chain student, a lot of this information i already knew. we actually talk about fast fashion in our classes pretty regularly. although, i must say, the talk so far has been mostly positive when i believe it should be the exact opposite.
if you are interested in doing research of your own, try looking up some of these things: fair trade agreements, fast fashion and human rights, rana plaza, clothing factory wages in bangladesh, fast fashion’s impact on the environment, and how to shop sustainably.
if you’re just here to get a few ideas of how you could make a difference, i compiled some easy “first steps” that you could take. i have used these tips to get started and they seemed to work pretty well for me so far. a few ways that make it easy to shop sustainably are:
- buying gently used or recycled clothing. a lot of people overlook this aspect, but it is actually a huge step in the right direction!
- buying clothes that use eco-friendly fibers. look specifically for linen, hemp, bamboo, lyocell, alpaca, organic wool and silk.
- look for clothes that have fewer dyes. the less dyes we have in our clothing the fewer chemicals we use!
- look for clothing that bears the fair trade label. to earn this label, manufacturers promise to pay all their workers a living wage. this also means that they guarantee that their factories are safe and their production is eco-friendly.
- buy things that will last you a long time. i am trying to buy things that i will wear over and over again. try to ask yourself, “do i really need this? how much am i going to wear this? do i really want this?”. even those tiny questions have helped me out a lot.
since i have made this decision, i have found a handful of companies that make their items in a sustainable way. this whole idea seemed a lot more daunting before i found that there were so many places i could still buy from. a lot of sustainable clothing is much more expensive. however, if you stick to buying high quality essentials, you will find you clothes lasting much longer (which will save you money). some of my favorite finds are below:
- veja has tons of fun sneakers.
- thredup is obviously a smart and reasonably priced option
- harare has super cute sweaters and tops. (i recently got this one and it’s on major sale right now!)
- teeki has great workout stuff that is all made from recycled plastic bottles!
- freedom of animals has really nice bags that are all made with recycled plastic or organic cotton and use 70% less energy than many of its’ peers.
- people tree is a pretty low priced option with many different products.
- catbird has really pretty jewelry (on the lower and higher end)
- woron is good for sustainable essentials
- simon miller also has some really interesting and fun pieces. the brand focuses really heavily on ozone technology in their production, which is really cool!
- zady also has great products as well.
- the-acey is an amazing website because they sell clothing, shoes, and more from a lot of different sustainable companies (think nordstrom of the sustainable shopping world)!!
*picture from here