3 Super Easy ways to Shop Sustainably in 2021

If you haven’t read about, or even heard of the word sustainability yet, then where have you been hiding? Over recent years, there’s been a fundamental shift within the fashion industry.


Ok sure, we’ve probably all noticed how easy it is to get something delivered to us the next day just from a few clicks, or now we even live in a world where Crocs have started to become cool; but it’s actually a much bigger change.


Over recent years, we’ve changed the way we shop, sell and produce clothes to become more environmentally friendly.

 

“Why does the way we shop matter?”

 

A lot of people don’t realise this, but the fashion industry is actually one of the world's greatest polluters. The main problem with this industry is that there are too many poorly made clothes available to us, which one way or another ends up in landfills. 


We actually have 5 times more clothes than our grandparents on average, and the countless number of new collections make our wardrobes seem out of date. As a result we feel the need to top up on mass produced, poor quality clothing that will last us a few months until we throw it away for the next trend.

 

“So what does shopping sustainably look like?”

 

Well, it’s easier to start with the basics- According to Conscious Fashion, sustainable fashion essentially refers to garments that are accessed or produced in an ecologically and socially responsible manner.


This basically means that brands aren’t damaging the environment when they’re producing and selling garments. For example, brands may try to source their cotton more sustainably. However, it can also branch to human right issues such as slave labour, child labour etc.

 

"What are brands doing about this?"

 

Nowadays, there’s a tonne of brands that are based on a sustainable fashion model, such as Patagonia and Veja to name a few. There’s also more well established names like H&M who are starting to incorporate sustainability into their collections in order to stop the vicious cycle.


This may sound like good news, but don’t let that distract you that there’s a tonne of work to do. To quote our own mission statement, it’s the responsibility of consumers and brands to make fashion more sustainable.


But let’s get back to it...


There’s a tonne of information out there on how to shop more sustainable Here, we’ll show you how easy it is to shop that little bit more eco-friendly with 3 tips:


...you know what, just because we love you, we’ll throw in a bonus tip on the house: you might even be doing this already….


Tip 1- Buy Better Quality


This is probably the easiest change we can make, because it involves just a small change in our shopping habits.


Come on, we’ve all been there- we’ve just bought that new Jumper from Zara which we love, but after one wash it’s shrunk. Or maybe we loved those new jeans until a button came off a few weeks later, and because we’re in the 21st century and don’t have a clue how to pick up a needle and repair our garments, it’s just easier to throw them away and buy something else.


Although throwing garments away is the easier option for us, it has dire consequences for the environment, as tossing clothes away adds to the 92 million tonnes of waste created by the fashion industry every year.


Don’t worry, it happens to all of us. We are starting on the back foot when brands are purposefully producing poor quality garments so we go back to them in a few months time. 


However, one way we can hack this is to buy garments that last longer. Probably, the easiest items to buy better quality are your basics. Plain T-Shirts, Denim Jeans, etc. A plain white tee will never go out of fashion, and buying longer lasting basics will stop more garments being thrown away as fast, as well as save you a bit of money in the meantime (since you’re not replacing them as much). What’s not to love?


There are some great reps for buying quality, sustainable garments such as Arket, who have a huge basics range. Although their basics might be a little more expensive, they have some great content on their site and in stores on how to care for your garments and get a long life out of them. The upfront cost might be a bit more, but trust us, you’ll save in the long run.


A super useful blog you need to check out is by Conscious Life and Style who show over 25 different sustainable companies you can buy your basics from. This is a great blog for people who maybe want to go and shop with some smaller businesses too.


If you invest in better quality, your clothes will last longer, and saves you buying more every month. Just a small change in who you buy your staples off can really make a positive difference for you and the environment!






Tip 2- Extend the Product Life Cycle


Extending the product life cycle is a lot easier than it sounds. No, it doesn’t involve stretching out your hoodie, or adding to the leg on those Mom Jeans.


Extending the product lifecycle simply means lengthening the use of your garments so that they aren’t immediately tossed away once we don’t want them or they’re faulty. There’s a few different ways we can do this, from repairing tears in our beloved knitwear, or simply taking your clothes to charity shops instead of throwing them away.


There’s a lot of information on how to extend the life of your wardrobe, but the most common (and simple ways) of this are listed below:


  1. Give Thrifting a Try- ‘Thrifting’ is becoming ever more popular amongst shoppers nowadays. It has its environmental benefits and usually saves a bit of money too. Gone are the days of rooting for a gem in a run down second hand store, today we can find great second hand garments on sites like ebay, depop etc. Whether you’re a buyer or seller, you are the one benefitting and so is the environment!
  2. Use less detergent- We all love the smell of a good detergent, but harmful chemicals within detergents are damaging our clothes and the environment further down the line. Up to 25% of the carbon footprint in each garment comes from the way we wash and care for it, which means we need to watch what we wash!
  3. Store Garments Correctly- This is a super interesting point because most of us will overlook this. Folding heavy sweaters instead of hanging, as well as using thicker wooden hangers instead of wire ones prevent your clothes sagging and shoulder seams ripping. It’s a small change of habits that will stop people needlessly throwing garments out in the future.

Extending the life of our clothes means that we are breaking the vicious cycle of the fast fashion model, stopping garments being thrown away so easily. These simple changes may seem small, but they will have a massive impact on a sustainable future for fashion. If you want to find more tips, check out this blog on some super easy tips on how to make your clothes last that little bit longer. 



Tip 3- Educate Yourself


Does this mean tapping into the journalism skills you don’t have? No, don’t worry. With the current state of fashion, there is mountain pressure on brands to show they are doing something right for the environment. 


And with a little digging on social media too, it’s never been easier to see whether a brand is sustainable or not. My rule is, the less effort you need to spend figuring out whether a company is sustainable or not, means the greater likelihood they are sustainable.


Why, you ask? Because most companies now want to shout that they are sustainable and are eager to show the world that they can operate in a more environmentally friendly way.


It’s still important to do your own research of course: one easy way is to go directly onto their website and click onto their mission statement or sustainability page. You’ll want to see evidence the company is making a positive change. Here’s a few things to look out for on their website:


  • Do they have a sustainability section at all?
  • What are their plans to become more sustainable?
  • Have they done anything to be more sustainable?
  • Do they mention sustainability in their mission statement?
  • Look at their products, do they make clothes from recycled materials for example?
  • Do they encourage sustainability from their customers? H&M do a good example of this.

If you want to check out a good example of what to look out for, click here.


It might seem a daunting task at first, but if you’re up to date and have a bit of know-how on what brands are making sustainable fashion, you can make more well informed purchases that will benefit you, and our planet. 


You can even make a positive change by giving your feedback to brands. Tell them if their clothes are faulty, or if your new jacket just shrank after one wash. Patagonia actually guarantees if your clothes are faulty or not fit for you, you can exchange for free.Brands nowadays should be making changes to how they produce fashion more sustainably, as EYCHÉ says, it’s up to brands to make the positive change, not consumers.


(Bonus) Tip 4- Shop Online


Pretty surprising right? We did say you will probably already be doing this! Recent studies have shown the benefits of shopping online.


You might think that shopping online has the opposite effect, with the amount of delivery drivers on the road, and inefficiencies such as people having failed deliveries because they were out, which means up to 60% of parcels return to their warehouses and are re delivered another day.


But with brands switching their strategies more towards e-commerce, there is less of a need to build and power brick and mortar stores. As a result, customers don’t need to drive anywhere, when they can get the newest look with a few clicks at home.


Plus, brands don’t need to transport stock to hundreds of stores across the country / globe. Orders can be fulfilled in one central location (their warehouse), which lowers a company's carbon footprint.


Of course, there are still things to improve for retailers fulfilling orders online. Let’s start with the most obvious one- returns. How often have you shopped online for clothes and they don’t fit, or they just aren’t what they looked like online? According to a study, returns to stores are a lot lower (between 6 & 8%) compared to online (30%). Brands need to find a way to reduce returns, so that it’s less hassle for the consumer, but also to reduce wasted trips to and from the warehouse.


So for 90% of you- well done! You’re already shopping sustainably if you’re shopping online. Now, all you need to do is combine this with the first 3 tips and you’ll be shopping sustainably before you know it!

 


Well there you have it! Hopefully we’ve enlightened you on how easy it is to shop more sustainably. Let’s quickly recap on how we can make a big difference in our own little way.


1- Buy better quality- Invest that little bit more money in your clothes. They’ll be better quality and last longer, which will save you money in the long run. Tip- try this with your basics.


2-Extend the Product Life Cycle- If you’re not up to breaking out the sewing kit when there’s a tear in your top, try shopping second hand, alternatively when your clothes don’t fit as well as they used to, sell them or take them to a second hand shop rather then throw into a landfill.

3- Educate yourself- Use social media to see what brands are doing to become more sustainable. Most brands have sustainability sections on their website.

4 (Bonus) Shop online- Studies suggest this has a lower carbon footprint than going to stores!


If more people shop like this in the long term, then the future of fashion and the planet will look rosy. With the growing narrative of sustainability within fashion, it should get even easier for consumers to shop better, as brands start to develop more sustainable ways of business, whether that’s partnering with a factory who values workers rights, or sourcing more recycled materials.


If we all do our bit to shop a bit more responsibly, then we can reverse the effects of climate change that's currently damaging our environment. We can be the faces of change.