One of the biggest challenges about trying to be more sustainable can be knowing where to start. With so much information out there and vast amounts of greenwashing occurring across most industries, especially the fashion industry, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Thankfully, becoming a sustainable shopper takes less effort than one might think.
1. Become Informed
Shopping sustainably is one way we can reduce our carbon footprint. Whether it be upcycled jewelry, sustainable activewear or ethically made dresses, there are many options when shopping sustainably. Understanding and supporting slow fashion being one way that we can begin to reduce the amount of harm done to the environment by the fast fashion industry.
First, it’s important to be aware of the detrimental effects the fashion industry has to our environment by doing things such as reading articles and staying up to date on documentaries, videos, and podcasts to help you along the way. Then comes doing investigative work on brands you currently purchase from or are hoping to purchase from. A simple way to do this is by looking for transparency on their website and socials. If it’s not easy to find or simply doesn’t exist, it might be time to look for an alternative brand to support. For inspiration, try shopping by values such as sustainable, ethical, cruelty free, toxic free, woman-owned, or BIPOC-owned on ourCommonplace.
2. Look for Certifications
Doing your own research as a conscious consumer means knowing what to look for when faced with a purchasing decision. Now more than ever we have the power in our hands to keep track of brands that are pioneering change in the fashion industry. There are a few goals and standards that we keep an eye out for during our vetting process. From textiles to working conditions, the ability to be confident in the sustainability of products starts at the very beginning of their life cycle. Here are the ethical and sustainable certifications that we know to be the best deep dive into the production process and supply chain.
3. Reusing Items
Just because that trendy animal print skirt you bought last year is no longer “in” doesn't mean it belongs in the garbage. Before you discard old clothes you no longer wear, think about reusing it. That cute floral print dress that no longer fits? It can retake shape as a pillow cover, scrunchie or even tote bag. One of the easiest ways to reuse old jeans is–you guessed it–cutting them into jean shorts that you know will fit perfectly! Creating new items out of clothes you no longer want is a sustainable way to add new items to your collection. Add more years to items you want to retire from your closet by switching them into other items. Be creative!
4. Repairing Items
Thinking of throwing your favorite pair of heels away? Head over to a local repair shop to give new life to your older, used items. Such repair shops can renew items, like leather goods, such as shoes, belts, and purses. By supporting local shops, you’re preventing carbon emissions and supporting your local economy. Repairing worn items is another way to add unique touches to your wardrobe. Just a search away, DIY videos and tutorials can demonstrate beginner sewing techniques to mend your clothes or transform them into new items.
Being a sustainable shopper doesn’t have to break the bank. Affordable, one of a kind pieces are waiting for you at your local thrift shop. Shopping at local thrift shops is a fun way to add unique pieces to your wardrobe. At thrift shops such as the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Crossroads, or local boutique thrift shops, you can find gently used pieces while knowing that a portion of your purchase goes towards charitable causes. If you’re concerned with supporting local small businesses, look for smaller thrift stores in your area. Who knows what treasures you might find!
6. Purchasing from Conscious Retailers like ourCommonplace
When shopping online, it can be hard to check if every item that catches your eye aligns with your values. Luckily, conscious retailers such as ourCommonplace have carefully vetted and curated a selection of items that are sustainable, ethically made, cruelty free and women and BIPOC owned–so you can be sure that any new clothing, beauty or household items are aligned with your values.
Additionally, every purchase made at ourCommonplace offers carbon neutral shipping at no additional cost. Carbon neutral shipping offsets the carbon emission that is caused by shipping. ourCommonplace invests in energy efficiency, forestry and renewable energy projects when offsetting carbon emissions.
Keep an eye out on retailers that offer carbon offsets and products that are vetted and aligned with ethical and sustainability values.
7. Keep Sustainable Fabrics in Mind
Did you know that it takes approximately 2,700 litres of water to produce one cotton t-shirt? Switch to more sustainable fabrics, including organic cotton, organic linen, hemp and synthetic fabrics like tencel. Organic fabrics put less of a strain on the environment by reducing water usage significantly and eliminating the use of harmful pesticides. Being conscious of the fabrics that we purchase can help to reduce the amount of environmental damage and water pollution caused by the fashion industry.
8. Use Reusable Bags When Shopping
One easy way to shop in a responsible manner is to use reusable bags. Whether you’re grabbing fresh produce at your local farmer’s market, carrying work essentials to your favorite cafe, or picking up some unique pieces while thrift shopping, reusable bags are the perfect practical accessory. They’re cute, durable, and encourage less plastic waste in the environment.