I hope my US followers had a joyful weekend celebrating the 4th of July with endless fireworks, laughter, and joy. As for me, I spent half the weekend exploring new places and the other half of the weekend by the pool… no complaints here! While I was out exploring, I went into an antique store and a giant thrift store. I saw clothes upon clothes upon clothes and it got me thinking. What are the ways you can shop more sustainable if you aren’t thrifting? What if you live in a remote area where there aren’t many sustainable stores around?
Shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It all starts with thinking more about where your clothes come from. I admit it can be incredibly overwhelming. There are so many factors on what makes a product “sustainable.” Is it the way it biodegrades? Is it the way it was created? Is it by who made it? What are the byproducts? How many different places did it travel? How many chemicals are in it? Do the people who made it have an opportunity to live a good life? Do they have rights? The list can go on and on. In the end, it has to start somewhere and that’s with checking your labels. Find out what it’s made of, where it’s made, and how you are going to use it.
I started to focus my efforts into a more sustainable lifestyle five months ago. I was, and still am, completely overwhelmed by how much information is out there. I had no idea what the “bad” fabrics where and what the “good” ones were. I had no idea that jeans produce a byproduct that is toxic to the environment. I had no idea that you can make sustainable clothes out of hemp. I’m also still a shopaholic and love buying new clothes… so what am I supposed to do to try and be more sustainable? Well, here are the four things I’ve started to focus on as I slowly try to learn more about sustainable fashion.
Buy products that can be worn multiple ways
When you buy items that can be worn in multiple different ways, you are improving its lifecycle drastically. Think, instead of only wearing that necklace in one way you can wear it tied up or even as a bracelet. The necklace I received in my Casuebox, from Kevia Jewelry, does that exact thing. It can be styled in six different ways! Talk about the perfect accessory. Another accessory that can be more versatile is your go-to bag. This bag from Tribe Alive, a Causebox exclusive, can be worn as a crossbody when you’re doing errands, a clutch for a more formal event, or even a makeup bag. There are so many other products out there that can be worn in different ways so the next time you’re shopping search for things that you know will be used in multiple ways.
Invest in better fabrics/check the label
There is no hiding it, I’m addicted to Marshalls. There is one that is just an exit away when I hit traffic on my way home from work. It takes all the willpower in my body not to stop in. When the traffic gets out of hand, which it does often, I hear T.J. Maxx whisper sweet things in my ear. Like a reflex, I put my blinker on and head down the windy exit. When I do go into Marshalls, I try to only buy products that are made with sustainable or eco-friendly fabrics. Organic cotton and linen are two fabrics I’ve been gravitating towards. You can also find clothes made with or mixed with bamboo, tencel, and wool hiding among the racks in Marshalls and Nordstrom Rack. The fabrics you want to stay away from are nylon, polyester, rayon, and acrylic because they not only are harmful to the earth but also your skin. Investing in quality fabrics ensures that the item will last a long time in your hands. It also helps that it can be decomposed quicker than plastic fibers.
Check Good on You before you buy something
Another thing I’ve been doing when shopping in Marshalls or Nordstrom Rack is looking up the companies on Good on You. When you’re in big department stores that carry multiple different brands, you can look up a company and see where they stand on ethics, animal rights, and the environment. The app also lets you urge your favorite companies to do better. I love seeing some of my favorite companies like J.Crew and Banana Republic start to make a difference in their production standards and hope another fall in line too.
Buy local or handmade
Buying local lets you not only get unique products but also supports small businesses. For example, I war the same two rings every day and bought them from a small little boutique in Troy, New York. I wear them constantly and always get compliments on their unique design. Realistically, in smaller communities it might be hard to find little shops. I, for one, can count the number of shops in my town on one hand. So, if you live in a small community like me you can find handmade products on Etsy. I recently bought a little banner to showcase all my travel pins and it came in this adorable little printed package. Etsy sellers go above and beyond to make sure you are happy with the final product.
If you’ve been shopping sustainably for a while now, do you have advice to the sustainable fashion newbie? If you’re a sustainable fashion newbie what do you want to learn more about? Are you overwhelmed too? Let me know in the comments down below.