I find myself talking about second hand shopping and sustainable brands a lot, but what happens when we can’t avoid fast fashion? Either we simply cannot afford to buy from sustainable brands, because a lot of the time their prices are higher due to paying their workers a fair wage and a higher quality (and therefore more expensive) fabric; or, we cannot find what we need from charity and vintage shops, eg. socks, tights, underwear, pyjamas etc
The sustainable fashion Industry has a long way to come before it can fully satisfy all of our shopping needs, and there’s still plenty of people who just LIKE to buy things (I can’t judge, I’ve been there myself in the past). So if you’re going to buy from fast fashion retailers, how can you make sure you’re still being conscious about what you’re buying?
This is where shopping ‘consciously‘ comes in. This means that we’re considering every purchase and being AWARE of what you’re buying and where it’s coming from.
Here are some things to consider to get you started:
Choose a natural Fabric like cotton, linen, TENCEL Lyocell, hemp, bamboo, wool (if you’re not vegan). These fabrics will have less of an impact on the environment at the end of their life and they should decompose, unlike polyester (basically plastic fabric) which never decomposes. They also don’t release micro-plastics into our water.
Who made them? If you can source what you need from local shops or boutiques who may work with more local producers (made in Ireland, UK, US etc) then you can rest assured they will be getting a better wage than producers from other countries such as China, India, Indonesia and sometime even parts of Europe. This will also reduce the carbon footprint of the item because it has less of a journey to travel.
Learn how to look after it properly. You can buy all the high quality pieces you like, but if you don’t wash them according to the washing instructions and store them properly hey won’t last very long. Caring for your clothes is so important, whether that’s buying a gentler, organic detergent, hand washing, air drying, washing on a lower spin cycle or at a lower temperature, this will contribute to ensuring your garments last for years to come and therefore not needing to replace them as often
Is it a classic piece or a trend item? Chances are if you’re buying a lot of trending pieces, they won’t stay in your wardrobe for very long. Classic pieces like jeans, simple button down blouses, blazer, classic cut tailoring etc will always be in style and therefore you can wear them now or in 20 years. Trends can be fun to experiment with, but try to source these pieces 2nd hand as much as you can, or borrow from a friend.
Key question: Will I get 30 wears out of this item?
Buy in store instead of online. I think people forget a lot about the extra packaging that goes into online shopping, but if you can, please shop in store. You can try on the items to ensure you really, really want them and that they fit you. You can also save on the plastic and paper packaging that comes with your online order. Extra brownie points if you bring a tote bag with you and refuse the paper or plastic bags in store.