Your Quick Guide to a Sustainable Closet
It’s no secret anymore that our shopping habits matter, like a lot. I’ve started to learn over the past year or so what it means to be a conscious consumer and how I can incorporate shopping sustainably and ethically into my closet.
Granted, shopping ethically and sustainably is so much more than our clothes and shoes. It’s our food, our skin care products, even our home decor. But hey, I love shopping for clothes and that felt like a good place to start. Training our shopping habits is a process, dare I say counter-cultural (I do dare). Our culture perpetuates the idea that more is always better, and the reality is that buying more requires buying cheaper, lesser quality, from less reputable brands. I suppose unless you're rollin' in the dough, in which case hit me up on Venmo.
There are a ton of reason's one might move towards conscious consumerism. Minimalism, quality over quantity, and production practices with toxins and fabric waste are all really great reasons. While I love all these reasons, fair-trade and worker conditions/compensation feels most important to me. It’s hard to imagine that the shirt you pick up in Target may have well been created by the hands of an overworked, underpaid individual from Bangladesh, but it happens - and that will never sit well with me.
With all that in mind, here are some tips on how to shop sustainably and ethically for your wardrobe...
Other than your birthday suit I suppose, thrifting is the most sustainable (and cheapest) form of shopping. It's also my favorite. Whether you're a lover of Goodwill, or prefer higher-in thrift stores, giving new life to forgotten clothing is one of the best things you can do. Don't like anything you see at your local thrift shop? Think about the wealthier towns in a drivable radius, and check out theirs. I really like what I find when I'm closer to major cities.
Sustainable brands tend to have a reputation of being pricey - and unfortunately I find that to be true. While that's often the price to pay to ensure everyone is compensated fairly, you can determine for yourself on a brand by brand bases if the tag is worth it for you. Keep in mind, purchases from sustainable brands will likely last much, much longer. Scroll down for a list of my favorite sustainable brands.
As a rule of thumb, I only buy my shoes from shoe stores. A pair of shoes I get from Express will likely never last as long as a pair I get from DSW. There are exceptions to this, but I like to purchase items from places that specialize in what they sell.
Take better care of the clothing you do have. Wash them less, avoid harsh detergents, and be mindful of how you store them.
Some Sustainable Brands to Check Out
Something you may notice about many of these brands is their repertoire of what they sell is pretty small. We've accustomed to fast fashion stores, like Forever21, where you can find any item or style. Purchasing from stores that specialize in the few things they sell helps ensure those things will be of quality and long lasting. I know - some prices make me cringe too, but these are the most reasonable in my opinion.
Reformation // https://www.thereformation.com
YEVU // https://yevuclothing.com
Beacon & Armour // https://beacon-armour.com
Oats the Label // http://www.oatsthelabel.com
Thought // https://www.wearethought.com
People Tree // https://www.peopletree.co.uk
Vege Threads // https://www.vegethreads.com
*disclaimer: I have not purchased from all of these brands, but for the ones I have not, I've done research on their quality, personally like their style and mission, and would consider purchasing from in the future.
Below are some more resources for testing how your favorite brands rank ethically, sustainably and socially.
Being conscious consumers is an ongoing process and conversation! Have other ideas for how to do good in your shopping habits? Let's discuss. 👇