So — you’re looking to shop sustainably. That’s great! But you may be wondering: “How do I shop sustainably?” “Where do I even start?”
Sustainability can be confusing — you want to help the planet, but how do you know what’s sustainable and what’s not?
We’ve got the do’s and don’ts of sustainable shopping to help you be a conscious consumer.
The Do’s of Sustainable Shopping:
Do Look for Natural Materials
When shopping sustainably, you want to choose materials that come from the environment.
Materials like organic bamboo, cotton, and silk, are not only more easily renewed, but they also return to the planet when you’re done with them. A 100% cotton t-shirt will biodegrade, whereas synthetic, manmade fibers won’t.
Do Choose Investment Pieces
There’s a reason that cheap clothing is low-cost. With a cheaper price comes cheaper quality.
Choosing investment pieces means they are made to last and you don’t have to replace them often. When they do begin to wear over time, you can simply fix worn seams instead of having a garment that falls apart after one wash cycle and a few wears.
Do Repair and Repurpose Items
There’s nothing more frustrating than when your t-shirt gets a stain or you get a hole in your jeans. That doesn’t mean that your clothing items become unwearable, though!
Get creative — how can you keep your clothing items in use? A few ideas include:
- Dye clothing to hide stains or discoloration
- If your t-shirt or another item really has lived its life, find ways to repurpose it — cut your t-shirt into squares to use as cleaning cloths or makeup remover pads
- Tailor your jeans or other pants to make them into shorts if the knees or hems have worn out
Our bodies are always changing, and your clothes are meant to fit you — not the other way around. See how you can tailor or alter items to fit if your body has changed.
Do Shop Secondhand
While it’s always exciting getting a brand-new pair of leggings or jacket, there are tons of clothes at thrift and consignment stores.
Even though people donate items to thrift stores, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 85% of clothing ends up in landfills. Instead of buying new right away, see if you can find what you’re looking for at a thrift store. Items are often in great condition and have lots of wear left.
They’re also cheaper — meaning you not only save money but also rescue some of the estimated 3.2 million tons of textile waste that the EPA estimated ends in landfills (as of 2018).
Do Research Brands
Take the time to look into brands before you shop with them. What are their principles?
Eco-friendly, sustainable brands want you to know that their values align with your own — so take the time to make sure you’re proud to support brands before clicking “check out.”
Do your research and shop consciously online.
The Don’ts of Sustainable Shopping
Don’t Buy Synthetic Fibers
Most synthetic fibers are petroleum based. They increase our dependence on oil and contribute to global warming.
When you wash clothing made with synthetic fibers — like polyester, nylon, and spandex — microplastics are released into the water, which end up in the ocean.
Avoid buying items made with synthetic materials. For the clothes you already have that are made with synthetic materials, you can get a laundry ball or bag, or a filter for your washing machine that captures microparticles.
Don’t Buy Into Greenwashing
Some companies may make themselves appear sustainable or eco-friendly — but fail to follow through on that. This is known as “greenwashing.”
They may do this by saying their clothing is made with a percentage of recycled materials, offering clothing recycling programs, or offering a single “sustainable” clothing line when the majority of their brand is not.
Keep an eye out for companies that try to make sustainable shortcuts and fail to follow through on truly environmentally-friendly actions.
Don’t Choose Fast Fashion
Fast fashion and over-consumption cause huge damage to the planet.
Brands will prioritize producing low-cost items with a quick turnaround over a focus on the environment. These items are also not made to last and will often be quickly out of style.
Instead of fast fashion, choose slow fashion companies that make garments that are made to last years — with the environment in mind.
Don’t Impulse Shop
While it can be tempting to keep up with fads and micro-trends, over-consumption causes lasting damage to the environment.
Before impulse buying an item, take the time to think about what you really need in your closet. Ask yourself:
- Will I wear this garment in six months, a year, or three years from now?
- Is this an item I can wear often?
- Do I have many different outfits I can create with this garment?
- Will this item last for many washes and wears?
While it’s great to have some statement pieces, you want to make sure you’re shopping intentionally for items that you’ll wear often and for a long time.
Don’t Get Rid of What You Already Have
One of the biggest mistakes people make when shifting to a sustainability-focused shopping mindset is getting rid of what they already have.
It’s okay if you bought fast fashion micro-trend pieces in the past. While you want to shift your shopping habits going forward, that doesn’t mean you should toss out those items because they don’t fit the bill of your new sustainability standards.
The items in your closet likely have lots of wear left — and you should keep them in your wardrobe rotation as long as you can. If you want to get rid of something, list it on a secondhand website so you can ensure someone else gets good wear out of it — or see if you can find a genuine textile recycling company to ensure the fibers don’t end up in a landfill.
Blue Canoe fits the “do’s” of sustainable fashion. Our clothing is made with organic, natural fibers that not only feel good on your skin — but are also good for the environment. Shop our sustainable clothing made with natural bamboo and cotton — and without harmful herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers.
Blue Canoe. Designed for the greater good.