Learning To Shop Consciously

Hi, loves! I’ve wrote several posts about wanting to reduce my carbon footprint, learning to be more sustainable and all of the reasons why we shouldn’t shop fast fashion trends, but is it wrong to still enjoy shopping for new items and even having the ocassional splurge? In October 2018 I wrote about why I was changing the way I shopped, and it caused me to re-evaluate what I’m buying; from food to fashion and everything else. In this post I focused more on the fashion aspect of sustainability; talking about all of the ways to minimize buying, give your old clothes a new lease of life, and to encourage donating things that didn’t serve you a purpose anymore, but how do we go about shopping for new pieces?

I personally think that sustainability within fashion is a complete grey area; many people have said they’ll never ever buy new pieces of clothing again and will only up-cycle current clothes, borrow/rent or shop second hand. Others, like me, do our bit where we can with donating, buying second hand and trying to shop more consciously when buying new. For me personally, I think the key is balance; just like recycling and cutting down on single use plastic, everyone doing their bit makes such a huge difference. In the months since I wrote the above post on fast fashion, I’ve seen SO much more attention brought to it, and I feel like lots of us are a little overwhelmed. I love a bit of retail therapy, and in recent months I’ve began to find my personal style and learn to love my body (I’m working on it, anyway) so I’m all for buying new pieces here and there. I also really want to share more fashion related content on my blog; it’s something I’ve always shied away from because there is so much hype around it, but I hope the Autumn months are going to see an influx of fashion related content around here. Here’s how I’m shopping more consciously, and I hope it helps you too!

Do not purchase on a whim. I’d say that at least 90% of items I’ve purchased on a whim because I ‘needed’ to buy something, bought a whacky print that isn’t me or liked how it looked on the model without giving consideration to how it would fit me are items I regret buying. I try to buy seasonally now; items that will see me through a whole season (or multiple seasons) and can be worn in many different ways are ones that stay in my wardrobe for years, and I truly get the value from. Buying with the purpose of that clothing item lasting you through all different seasons and occasions is something that has changed the way I shop in such a huge way; I’m way less likely to be drawn to things I won’t wear over and over again. I really try not to impulse buy, and generally prefer to shop in store rather than online because it’s best to feel fabrics and try things on.

Buy quality over quantity. I’m not saying you have to spend hundreds of pounds on an outfit or piece of clothing to justify it being ‘good’ quality, but it really can pay to shop arounds sometimes. For example, buying cheap t-shirts from Primark might seem like fun in the heat of the moment, but realistically you’re not going to get much wear out of it and it’ll end up in a charity bag within a matter of weeks. Factor in that someone had to make that t-shirt; if they’re marking up their price to be still be £5 or less, it cost pennies to make, and in reflection the person who made that was likely not being paid a fair wage. The fabrics and dyes used in ‘cheap’ clothing are terrible for the environment, and you just don’t get value for money. Aim to shop in stores that offer more premium priced items that are made with better materials, as they will last you way longer and you’ll get your value for money. I’ve said this a few times, but Matt is so good for shopping with the quality over quantity in mind, and I’m slowly but surely learning from him!

Know your price point and stick to your budget. Hand in hand with looking at quality over quantity, it’s so important to know what you can afford, and where you can compromise on spending a little more for a better piece, or go for a less expensive option that suits your needs but still fits with your ethical opinion. It’s hard to judge this as everyone is so different, and our allocated money to spend on clothing each month can vary so much. I personally will never feel guilty for buying at *a certain store* because the reality is I can’t afford to shop exclusively at ethical, sustainable stores or brands. The prices are much higher – although I agree with the reasoning for this, for paying fair wages and using harder to source fabrics – but I’m unable to consistently purchase that way at this time in my life.

Buy with intention. Does the item of clothing go with at least X amount of things you own? Can you wear it through multiple seasons/years? Or is it a ‘trendy’ piece that you’ll not reach for in a month? Or are you only buying it because everyone else is wearing it? Yes, I’m talking about *that* Zara dress. If the answers to these questions err on the side of ~I am not shopping for the right reason~ then chances are, it’s a purchase you’ll regret making. As I said in this post, I read somewhere that you should get at least thirty wears out of each piece of clothing you own, although I think personally that number should be even higher. Buying items of clothing that are not made to fit a certain trend makes this much more likely; stick to shapes and fits that flatter your body, buy solid coloured basics, opt for pieces that can be dressed up or down and only buy patterns when it’s one you know you’ll wear long term (like leopard print, always buy leopard print).

Get over the fear of outfit repeating. I’m sure most of us are immediately re-playing that scene from Lizzie McGuire in our heads right now, which taught us that re-wearing clothes you love was so not cool. Well, you know what really isn’t cool? Killing our planet by throwing away billions of clothing each year. This article shocked me so much, I can’t believe there is still such a stigma against wearing clothes you love, and it bugs me that we’re taught to think this way. I regularly see Daily Mail articles with headlines like “Princess Kate recycles dress for another event” …what? She is not ‘recycling’ anything. She’s literally wearing her clothes. Why don’t we all take a leaf out of Kate’s book and wear what we bloody own?! I also sometimes justify higher priced products by looking at the cost per wear; for example if a jumper was £60.00 but you wore it thirty times, you’re down to £2 per wear; making the investment worth it, and the jumper is better quality therefore will last longer with the correct care.

Read the labels. I really am that person who reads the labels on pretty much every clothing item I purchase. I’m not an angel and I definitely could be better with this, but I try to stay away from purchasing man-made fabrics, such as polyester, and opt for more natural fabrics that are sustainable to our planet. There is a term called greenwashing that is being thrown around a lot recently, and it basically means brands are being accused of advertising products/fabrics are ‘better for the environment’ without being able to back it up. So many cotton clothing items say they are made with ‘recycled’ cotton, but many retailers are not being truthful with this statement; if it doesn’t say “certified recycled/sustainable cotton” it’s more than likely NOT. Do your research, check the labels thoroughly and be prepared to shop around.

Buy with comfort in mind. This one is maybe something that lots of you won’t agree with, but I am tired of buying clothing items that LOOK good, but don’t feel good. Super tight skinny jeans, I’m looking at you. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good pair of skinnies as much as the next person, but if Matt and I are heading out for dinner and drinks (hello, bloating!) I’m no longer forcing myself to wear them when it’s just not necessary. Over the past few months I’ve totally fallen in love with Mom jeans, and I couldn’t care less if they make me look ‘big’ which was what I always thought when I tried a pair on. Matt compliments me every single time I wear them, and they’re so much comfier. If you’re still not on the Mom jean hype, please go try them out! I am equally as obsessed with midi skirts, comfy trousers and if I’m having a chilled day you can bet I’m wearing leggings for that athleisure vibe. Comfort is key, and honestly when you’re comfortable in your clothing (and your own skin, but that’s for another post) you look so much better anyway!

I’m so excited to shop for my Autumn wardrobe, and I’m hoping to implement a better one in/one out system when the time comes. I began decluttering my wardrobe last weekend, and over the next few weeks of culling more and more, I’m determined to only own things I love, feel good in and will get wear out of. I can’t wait to begin buying a few Autumn pieces, I’m really so excited to create a wardrobe I love for years to come! My shopping list for Autumn includes chunky cable knit sweaters, a new midi skirt or two in darker tones, black (vegan) leather ankle boots, a good pair of dark wash mom jeans and some comfy long sleeved tees. I’ll definitely be sharing a little Autumn haul on my blog in September or October, and I’d love to share more outfit related posts with you next season if you wouldn’t be fussed that most of my clothes aren’t able to be linked? I adore Autumn fashion, and I’m excited to focus on fashion a little more on my blog.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you found this post helpful and maybe a little interesting; I love to talk about this topic and I’d love to know your thoughts below. How are you shopping more consciously? Have you seen brands greenwashing potential customers for their own gain? What’s your favourite tip to shop more consciously?

-G x

What’s The Deal With Fast Fashion?

Happy Wednesday, loves!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week! This week Matt and I been cooking new recipes and spending our evening’s watching our new Netflix love, Inside The World’s Toughest Prisons. It’s such an interesting show, we’re genuinely shocked at 99% of each episode! I’m so excited for this weekend; Matt and I are spending it attending an NUFC game (our win yesterday made us very happy campers!), having dinner and drinks at our favourite restaurant in the city centre, and hopefully squeezing in a nice long walk down by the beach on Sunday! We’re hoping to KonMari our lives a little more too, it’s a never-ending task! Matt is at a work event on Sunday evening so I’m going to spend a few hours having a serious pamper night before I pick him up, I can’t wait! (Let’s hope the snow forecast is wrong… anyone else terrified at the thought of driving in it or getting stuck? Just me?!) What are you looking forward to this weekend?

*Vanilla chai lattes and vegan Biscoff donuts highly encouraged as the perfect snacks to get you through this post*

Please know I’m definitely not an expert on this topic, and I’m still learning every single day. This post is written based on opinion yet includes facts, all with good intentions, to inform and encourage people to research for themselves.

I have to begin this post by saying a huge thank you to Niomi Smart, Venetia Falconer, Stacey Dooley and Emma Hill for inspiring me to learn about fast fashion, and for setting an amazing example in their everyday lives. One of my favourite Instagram hashtags to search through is #OOOTD (Old Outfit Of The Day) which is something Venetia started to encourage people to shop their wardrobes, and to advocate slow fashion. I’ve shared an OOOTD in this post – Matt took this photo last weekend when we were on our way to brunch!

If you’re a regular reader here on my blog, you’ve definitely seen the words ‘fast fashion’ mentioned a fair few times in recent posts. Fast fashion is quite literal; it’s a term that means clothing pieces created – usually from Designer catwalk inspiration – to be made in large quantities, generally for very little money. On NYE I posted on my Instagram story that I was shopping my wardrobe not the high street for my outfit this year, and that’s a mindset I’m so happy to now have.

Fast fashion is all around us, and us millennials buy in our droves on a daily basis. We’re of course not the only ones to blame for the incredible rise in fast fashion brands’ popularity over the past few years, but we’re certainly not helping the situation. There has been a lot of controversy regarding fast fashion over the past year, which was only heightened by Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets documentary that aired on BBC2 in September 2018. It’s currently unavailable on BBC iPlayer but if you can find it, it’s so worth a watch. As any regular readers will already know, I adore Stacey! She is brilliant at investigating varying topics around the world, and shedding light onto just how serious these topics are. I learned many things from the FDS documentary, and aside from the people directly affected by pollution one of the biggest shocks was that a whole sea in Kazakhstan has almost completely dried up due to the amount of waste produced by surrounding cotton mills. The documentary is eye opening and jaw dropping for us as consumers to watch, and I guarantee it will leave you shocked at your hand in this epidemic too.

So, what is the deal with fast fashion? Is epidemic too strong of a word? Why are we all boycotting it? Basically, it’s killing our planet. It has a detrimental affect on so many factors of life; human rights due to low wages and long hours, water systems due to dye being dumped into rivers and lakes, and the waste and pollution caused by it is getting larger by the day, among many other things. Not only is the process to make the clothes causing pollution on another scale, but the clothes are generally very cheaply made, and they don’t last very long, even if you take care of them. This means often once we are ‘finished’ with these clothing items, they are not able to be passed on – to friends, family or charity – and end up in landfill.

Many brands are now branching into sustainable materials and ethical trading, which includes being able to trace the origins of clothing items right back to where they first started. These companies ensure staff are paid fair wages, have better working conditions and are taking as many procedures as possible to reduce their pollution. Sounds like a great thing, right? Well it is, but those costs have to be passed onto the consumer, and the reality is for most of us we cannot afford to pay X amount of money for everyday items, such as a t-shirt. There’s a weird lull at the moment, in my opinion, as shops seem to be either steered towards fast fashion and the current trend(s) of the season with little to no care for the environment or it’s people, or they’re doing everything they can to be a more ethical brand, and therefore becoming slightly less accessible to customers with higher prices, and less stock available. 

I am a lover of retail therapy, an advocate even, so what am I supposed to do now shopping is considered ‘bad’ for the environment? Well, I can change the way I shop. I covered a lot of the reasons behind why I’m changing the way I shop in this post, but now I’m more determined than ever to be the change I want to see in the world. That’s how all of this starts, right? Some of these tips and ideas will possibly be repeated from previous posts, but they are so important, and if I can bring awareness to just one more person that makes me extremely happy. So, here’s a few things I’m doing, and you can do them too! This applies to all different budgets, and hey if you have the budget to shop only sustainable fashion brands, then more power to you! (And, are there any jobs going at your place?! HAHA).

#OOOTD (LOL posing for photos makes my toes curl, the only one I could include was one of me looking away from the camera, mid hair tuck!)

Donate and shop second hand. I’m very good at the donating part, but I’m yet to shop second hand. Buying from the likes of charity shops, eBay and Depop are a great start as you’re getting new (to you) clothing items at cheaper prices, and it prevents one more ‘new’ garment out finding it’s way out into the world. I sell mine and Matt’s unwanted/unused clothes on eBay fairly often, and since The Great Wardrobe Declutter of 2018 I’ve decluttered several more times. (Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show has encouraged Matt and I to re-assess not just our wardrobes but our whole lives LOL!) Another great alternative would be to gather a few friends and encourage them to go through their clothing, seeing what items they can pass on. Then, you could all get together and exchange a few pieces, giving them a new home and a whole new way to be worn. I’d love to do this!

Shop less, and always with a purpose. I’m embarrassed to admit I used to be that girl that bought a new outfit, or at least a new top, for every social occasion. I mean, I don’t go out that often, but I still purchased way more items than required for my lifestyle. I didn’t necessarily feel like I needed to for myself, but I did think other people would notice. The reality is nobody cares if you take photos wearing the same pieces, and my boyfriend certainly doesn’t take into account what top I’m wearing for date night! (Nine times out of ten he didn’t even know I was wearing a new top until I told him – “oh, but the black shirt you wore last time looks the same?”) Buying new clothes for each event you go to, whether it’s a wedding or a night down your local pub is unnecessary, and it can also be pretty hard on your bank account. Instead, I highly encourage you to buy (sometimes higher priced) sustainable clothing pieces that you can wear over and over again. The main aim of stopping fast fashion in it’s tracks is to simply buy less clothing, and love/wear what you have.

Buy items with minimal (or no) man-made fabric content. Have you ever been shopping and seen a fairly suspicious girl snooping through the rail of jumpers, reading the labels tucked inside? No? Well you haven’t seen me shopping! It may seem a little strange at first, but looking at clothing tags to see what an item is made of is so eye-opening, and I can guarantee you’ll be shocked at how many items are made out of 100% polyester. *More than 70 billion barrels of oil are used worldwide each year to manufacture polyester, which is then processed into low quality clothing items. Polyester clothing items are then not bio-degradable, and even washing these pieces causes huge pollution. It’s thought that items made with man-made fabrics, such as polyester and acrylic, are the biggest cause of microplastic pollution in our oceans today. That means it’s bigger than pollution caused by plastic bags, plastic packaging and plastic straws!
*Information from EcoCult – this article is a great read.

Aim to buy items of clothing that already go with items you own, and can be re-worn for years to come. I read (possibly in a magazine article, or another blog?) that we should be aiming to buy items we can wear at least thirty times, but I think we can do even better than that. Generally speaking we all have favourite items in our wardrobes – whether it’s a pair of jeans, a snuggly jumper or a silk slip dress – so we should be buying with intentions of working with what we already have. If you’re already shopping with a purpose like I mentioned above, this will begin to come naturally, and you start to keep yourself in check whilst you’re browsing the rails. Next time you feel the need to shop, I’d encourage you to analyse your wardrobe, and see what (if anything) you require to get more wear out of your favourite pieces. Everyone’s basics and essentials are different, so tailor this towards your own wardrobe and needs. Make time every now and then to try on different pieces together and create new outfits, I guarantee there are so many outfit options in your current wardrobe you’ve never even thought to put together before.

Take care of your clothing. Washing your clothes less frequently (especially anything made with man-made fabrics) reduces wastage going into oceans. I’m not saying you have to put the same stinky gym leggings on four days in a row, but hear me out. Lots of clothes do not require washing after just one wear; for example, jeans can be worn at least half a dozen times! This is something I have to admit was new to me last year, I would wear a t-shirt for an hour or so whilst doing our grocery shop, then put it straight into the laundry basket when I took it off. Being more eco-friendly does not compromise cleanliness! It’s also much more beneficial for the environment to hang your clothes (or lay flat) to dry, instead of using a tumble drier. I’d recommend investing in a cashmere comb – it may be the most boring yet best thing I’ve ever bought – as you can de-bobble your old jumpers in an instant. Fixing clothes that are damaged, eg sewing buttons back on or mending holes, is something I think we all need to be held more accountable for.

Research, research and research. Are you feeling intrigued and want to know more? To begin, I’d recommend reading articles, scouring Instagram, watching documentaries and looking at your own current habits. I unsubscribed from all fast fashion websites that were sending me daily emails, and I downloaded an app called Good On You, which has changed how I see brands! (It rates clothing and accessories companies on three areas – Labour, Environment and Animal. Matt and I check their information on brands whenever we’re shopping!) One thing that surprised me a little is that the more I’ve read, and the more people I’ve found who think similarly to me, my need for change has filtered through to beauty products and food. I’ve vowed to buy only makeup and skincare from cruelty-free brands moving forward, I’m beginning to explore natural and organic beauty products, and I’m enjoying experimenting with vegetarian/vegan food options more and more. I’m so excited to see where I can go on my journey to sustainability!

Thank you so much for reading, I’m so excited to hear your thoughts on this topic. Are you on your own journey to living more sustainably? Did you find this post helpful, or do you feel inspired to change? Who inspires you? I can’t wait to share some of my tips and opinions on being sustainable in all aspects of our lives over the next few weeks!

 -G x