So truthfully, walking around naked is the most eco-friendly way to dress ourselves, which means balancing a love of fashion and the environment can be tough. Reducing our consumption of clothing, even from eco-friendly retailers, is critical for environmental sustainability. With that said, sometimes a new purchase is inevitable (seriously, you can’t wear the same dress to Jenny AND Katie’s weddings), however before purchasing a virgin piece of clothing, try out these eco-friendly shopping tips.
Phone a friend: Ideally, literally, because telephonic communication is a lost art form these days, but at the very least, text your friends to see if they have anything worth borrowing. Yes, it can be hard if you’re not the same size (although don’t forget, safety pins, and fashion tape work WONDERS), but even if you can’t raid your friends’ closets maybe a friend-of-a-friend has something you can test-drive, or a co-worker. It can’t hurt to ask!
Thrift: Shopping secondhand can be difficult — you want something bright, shiny and new and if it doesn’t fit, you want to be able to return it. When done right though, shopping secondhand can be beneficial to your wallet and the planet. With sites like Poshmark and Tradesy you can easily browse items from an endless amount of brands. If you’re new to world of secondhand retail, start small with one-size fits all items such as jewelry, bags or even home items. When you’re ready to graduate to clothing, the best way to avoid disappointment is to look for brands you’re familiar with. If you know exactly what size you are in H&M and Lululemon, then you’re taking on very little risk when you purchase one of those items secondhand. Worst that happens, you receive an item that’s not your jam and then you repost it on the resale site.
Rent: The sharing economy is really having a moment right now. Rent The Runway, Nuuly, Le Tote (the list goes on), all offer ways for you to try out new and unique clothing without the guilt of knowing that after one or two uses it will hang lifeless in your closet before inevitably making its way to the landfill. Not only is it pro-planet, but it’s pro-wallet. For Christmas Eve, my company holiday party and New Years I used items I rented through Nuuly. Had I bought these items outright it would’ve cost me a total of $484. Instead I paid $88 to rent the items for 1 month. Nothing says happy holidays like the joy of wearing a fresh new outfit AND saving money. So for special occasions, or if you’re just feeling the urge to mix up your “black top with jeans” uniform, give renting a shot.
Do a deep closet dive: If friends, the rental industry AND secondhand shops let you down then take one last look through your closet. There’s always a possibility that you’ll think of a brand new outfit combo. Get creative, try to think outside the box and mix and match items you never thought would go together. If you need some assistance try an app like Closet or Stylebook where you can import photos of your clothes and create outfits out of what you already own. You can even plan your ensembles for the whole week or create a packing list. Sure, all you may end up with is a clashing outfit that belongs in a 2005 Disney Channel Original movie, but there’s always a slight chance you’ll find a gem you didn’t know you had.
If after trying these strategies you still find yourself empty-handed, then it may be time to consider the traditional way of shopping, but if you do so, make sure to give your purchase plenty of thought. Resist the urge to impulse purchase! I’d also encourage you check out some eco-friendly brands such as Lev Apparel, Akala, Back Beat Co. or Tentree (just to name a few). If you have any other environmentally conscious shopping tips please share them in the comments! We’re always looking for new ways to combine the rush of new clothing with the rush of helping the planet.