How to be an eco-conscious shopper! Part 1: Clothes Shopping

I always find that while people are totally on board with the whole environmentally friendly thing (not exactly a controversial topic), once you’ve decided to stop supporting unethical practices you begin to ask yourself: where the hell can I shop now? Or HOW do I shop now? This can lead to feeling disheartened and demoralized, and no one wants to be told they have to go through a lifestyle overhaul to achieve their eco-friendly goals. In this series I will give a variety of tips and tricks to help you become the eco-conscious shopper you strive to be, so that the task begins to feel a whole lot easier.

I believe it’s important to start with the mindset, in order to change your perception of how much you need new clothes anyway and to fight against the great evil of the modern world, which is a big problem for the environment: over-consumption. Here are some tips and tricks to help fight the shopping urge!

1. The most environmentally sustainable practice would be to simply use your clothes until they fall apart before buying new things. This is probably unrealistic for the majority of us who luckily are in a position to buy new things, and as a clothes-lover I know it’s not something I can totally commit to. However, just planting that seed in my mind stops me from making impulsive purchases, which means I’ve already cut my clothes buying habits by a good 75%. Think about the oldest item in your wardrobe- doesn’t it make you feel proud that you’ve had it for so long? Mine is a dress I bought for a wedding in 2005, and may well wear to a wedding this year, 13 years later!

2. Tidy away your seasonal clothes in a cupboard out of sight. That way when spring rolls around and you take out a couple of t-shirts, or dresses and cute flowery tops, they feel all shiny and new because you haven’t seen these items for 6 months! Doing this has really helped to cull that “new season new clothes” urge that I know all too well.

3. Instagram or Pinterest search your wardrobe! For example, if you have a pair of Mom jeans you think you need a new top to wear with, just search hashtags or look it up on Pinterest. You’ll find countless images of Mom jeans worn in many different ways, and you might find you already own one or two of the items you see, which you had previously never thought of putting together with those jeans. This can be a nice reminder that wearing something in a different way has the power to give the item new life and stops you wanting more.

4. Make sure you love everything in your wardrobe. If you stand in front of your wardrobe in the morning and see piles of tops that don’t fit perfectly, aren’t really your style anymore, or are in some way just not “right”, then you will be much more likely to tell yourself that the answer to this is to go out and buy some more. However, if you love all your clothes and know that you would happily wear each and every item, it brings a stronger sense of satisfaction and therefore takes away the feeling that somehow your bulging wardrobe isn’t enough. I recommend minimising your wardrobe, but of course it’s important not to be wasteful. Give clothes to friends, to charity, to recycling bins, or tidy them away in categories such as “old clothes for painting”, so you aren’t faced with that mountain of fabric that clouds your mind every day. (Seasonal tidying like in point 2 can also be a solution, and avoids having to get rid of things).

5. Like my Mum has always said to me, there will always be something else that you want, in every new season, or even every week as a result of fast fashion. You don’t ever need to feel like you “have” to buy something because it’s there, now, in front of you. I guarantee the next time you go shopping there will be something else you like, and you’ll go through the whole process again!

So voilà 5 ways to help change your mentality towards your wardrobe and its perceived deficiencies. None of us need new clothes if we already own some, but it’s also normal to want some new ones from time to time. If we can cut the impulsive habits and make more considered purchases after first of all checking there’s nothing in the back of the wardrobe that can do the job, then great- you’ve made a conscious decision, can feel good about it, and have probably avoided 2 or 3 impulsive decisions along the way by just being more aware of how and when you spend!

A sunny April Sunday with some old favourites: denim jacket (5 years old), dress (8 years old), Longchamp backpack (3 years old), Converse trainers (3 years old), and trusty Ray Bans (2 years old)

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