What is responsible shopping?
All of us love to shop and purchase fashionable clothes, accessories and gifts. However, in the last five years or so a different perspective has been identified. Recently, many reports have exposed the fashion industry for contributing to unsustainable practices, high levels of waste, implementing unethical standards and releasing pollution into the air. Did you know nearly 20% of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry? As more reports have been exposed, more individuals worldwide have tried to make a conscious effort to change their ways of living. Evidently, it’s not just eco-warriors that care for the environment, but everyone is trying to make a difference.
How Can We be Sustainable?
Ideally, to share the same vision and be much more sustainable, everything we buy needs to be circular.
Items need to be made from biodegradable material, processed sustainably and once it reaches the end of its life it can either be repurposed, reused or recycled into something new! Ultimately, we have a long way to go until we see major changes; however, in the meantime, we contribute to sustainability in our shopping habitats:
How to Become a Responsible Shopper?
1. Research Brands
By taking a moment to research brands, you can find out more about a company and its practices regarding sustainability or implementing sustainable practices.
Firstly, you may want to explore the brand’s website to find out more about a product. The company needs to showcase all the information about their product – so use this information to find out more. Then check other credible media outlets like social media and online publications to gain an external view of the company. In the final instance, don’t be afraid to contact the company to understand their sustainability mission more.
2. Always be Aware of Greenwashing
Greenwashing is when an organisation or business ‘spends time and money claiming to be 'green' through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact'.
As there has been pressure on fashion brands to be much more sustainable, companies creating misleading advertising arde convincing audiences that they are sustainable. However sometimes the claims and judgements are not always true. When you’re shopping, lookout for misleading statements, dig deeper into the research.
3. Focus on What You Have and Purchase Meaningful Items
It’s no secret that we can be tempted to buy brand new items to keep up with trends and aspirational looks.
However, the challenge is buying excessively is not sustainable? Marie Kondo the ultimate Organisation Guru advises people to ‘Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy.’ .’. If you review the clothes you have, you may be surprised about the quantity. So, reduce your purchases and only purchasing when you need to. By using what you have and making fewer purchases contributes to slowing down mass-production. So, the next time you go shopping, make a meaningful purchase; only buy what you need.
4. Check the Materials
Whenever you do make a purchase check the materials, this is extremely important when reviewing clothes as this determines the quality, durability and whether the fibres will biodegrade.
Most clothes and mass-produced items are made from synthetic fibres, which significantly impact the environment. For example, plastic is not biodegradable and will take about 1000 years to biodegrade, then will eventually end up in landfills worldwide, casing waste in our oceans affecting the food chain. Therefore shop for quality, check the labels for more information about the garment i.e. materials and fibres used.
Good quality material is often created from natural fibres like cotton, wool, cashmere and silk. Organic materials can also be considered ethical and eco-friendlier. Overall, organic has a lower impact on the environment; organic cotton produces around 46% less CO2e compared to conventional cotton.
5. Purchase Preloved Clothing or from Small Businesses
As we know, fast fashion is highly disposable. Once you pick one style, you’re likely to move on to the next trend or style; however, think about purchasing second-hand or from a local business.
Purchasing second-hand clothing is an affordable and sustainable option. When you purchase second-hand, you are slowing down mass-production. If you decide to shop local, there are minimal challenges to energy, additionaly, you are also supporting local businesses.
So, there you have it five ways to shop responsibly and change your attitude to shopping. Remember, if something is broken, fix it! Or go to a local business to repair or mend it. In the worst-case scenario, swap it, donate it, reinvent it, recycle it or resell it to someone. There are simply no excuses anymore, as there are ways to repair items now. Always think about your sustainable footprint and how you can make a difference.