When you search up 'sustainable shopping', there are endless amounts of articles and tips that come up, with a variety of perspectives on the meaning of “sustainable shopping”. The reality is, there are tons of ways to go about shopping sustainably, so today we're here to show you how easy it is with a few easy and empowering tips.
Fashion consumption has increased drastically over the last few decades, with the average person buying 60% more clothes, but keeping them for only half as long as just 15 years prior (Greenpeace). From 2000 to 2014, clothing production doubled worldwide (McKinsey).
While one could look at these numbers as a positive; a sign of a good economy, with people who have the ability to spend on clothing beyond just the essentials, that is not the truth. Behind the ever-changing trends, and disposable mentality with modern-day fashion, the people manufacturing these products, and the impact the manufacturing process has on the environment has become exploitative.
The key pillars of what we believe sustainable fashion to be, are understanding the story behind the item, the process of how that product came to be, and the impact they had along the production process.
To begin shopping sustainably, you have to understand why you’re doing it... and here are 5 tips to help you get started...
1. Factor in the True Cost:
When you see a shirt hanging on the rack at a store for just 10$, you don’t see the unliveable wages of the workers who made it, or the impact it has on the environment (such as greenhouse gases, and materials used).
One of the major problems with the fashion industry is the invisibility of many of these issues consumers should be aware of. This might require doing a bit of digging into brands you love to find out more about their production process, and how they treat their employees who make the items.
Who made this?
Where was it made?
And, what resources were required to make it?
To learn more about how to connect to the true cost of your items, watch our YouTube video all about the social and environmental cost behind the price tag of your items.
2. Analyze your values:
Deciding to move towards making sustainable purchases starts with you first. Once you understand what you value, and what you want brands you support to value, you can dive into sustainable shopping with clarity and purpose.
What do I value?
Is it the environment justice, animal welfare, human impact, made locally, material sourcing, etc.
Is this the story I want to wear?
Do I feel proud to wear this? If the answer is no, think about what DOES make you happy to wear and support, and seek that out.
When you get clear on what it is that you value, then you can have an easier time choosing what to bring into your wardrobe and create a wardrobe of items that you love.
Example: we have a passion for environmentalism, so WASTE is huge for us. That means we have created all our products from upcycled materials. When we shop for new items in to add to our closet, we look for other designers who use upcycled fabrics or materials and also LOVE shopping second hand!
3. Factor in the cost per wear:
Many people may be put off from buying sustainably due to the 'higher cost' of the item. However, there's very good reason for this...
When you buy a sustainable product, you are paying for higher quality, more carefully crafted pieces that are meant to last longer then the cheap trendy items you can find at big box stores. In the long run, we believe it's really the cheap, fast fashion products you can’t afford, not the sustainable piece made for longevity.
Having to constantly repurchase items that aren’t made to last adds up fast. Consciously investing in essential pieces, will ultimately not only be kind to your wallet, but you can wear these pieces with pride, knowing you’re doing your part to change the narrative within the fashion industry.
How many times will I wear this item?
Will it fit in with other items in my closet? Be realistic about your style and how it will compliment other pieces you already own.
Example: If we break it down and analyze the cost-per-wear, a $10 item worn 2 times means you are paying $5 each time you wear it. If you wear a $60 item 30 times you are paying $2 for it.
4. Deviate from the trends:
Part of the reason fast fashion can be so damaging to the environment is due to how fast trends are changing, causing so much unnecessary production. Just as you analyze your values, you also need to analyze what you really enjoy wearing, and the types of pieces you gravitate towards, regardless of what anyone says is trendy or not.
The beautiful part of fashion is that it's truly an expression of WHO YOU ARE.
So you are allowed to wear anything you want at any time!
Does this piece make me feel good?
Will I wear it all year round and beyond? or is this something that feels like a fad?
To ditch disposable shopping, we have to ditch the disposable mindset first.
5. When in doubt, start with what you have:
Before diving head first into buying a new wardrobe of sustainable items, remember the most sustainable way to shop is within your own closet. Find the pieces you know and love, and even if it's by a brand you no longer want to support after finding out more about their practices, it's still more sustainable to keep it, rather then purge the item and buy something new.
Find the gaps in your wardrobe, and go from there. Start small, and trust that slow, progressive steps are huge in and of themselves. We often think we need to take giant leaps in order to make progress (but often those are quite unsustainable!)
Once you know what new pieces you want to seek out, you can start looking at sustainable options that make you feel good.
Sustainable fashion is becoming more widely available, with many brands working towards ethical and transparent practices. Here at Chic Made Consciously, our pieces are fair trade, made of recycled materials, with artisans working for fair, livable wages. Our story is one we want you to feel proud to wear, just as we are proud to create it.