Friday, 4 November 2016
Ethical shopping: why, how, where
Since my previous post about wanting to become a more conscious clothing consumer, I've been swinging about the interwebs like a monkey, gathering advice and resources on how to make more ethical choices.
I found loads of blogs and sites with a wealth of information so, rather than re-invent the wheel, I'm going to point you in the direction of the good stuff. It's gonna be super link-heavy.
Still not convinced fast fashion sucks? Read here:
Fast fashion is drowning the world
8 reasons to rethink fast fashion
Why the fashion industry is out of control
5 truths the fast fashion industry doesn't want you to know
Fast fashion is creating an environmental crisis
Fast fashion facts
For more in depth reading, try these books:
To Die For: Is fast fashion wearing out the world? by Lucy Siegle
Overdressed: The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion by Elizabeth L Cline
And then there's The True Cost, a 2015 documentary on the dark side of fast fashion. I haven't watched it yet, not that I need more convincing to ditch fast fashion.
If, like me, you've already decided to break up with fast fashion, here's some great resources to get started:
This infographic, by Elizabeth Stilwell aka The Note Passer, sums up perfectly how to be a more ethical consumer (of anything, not just fashion). She expands on it in her post here.
Anuschka Rees of Into Mind and the author of The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe includes a similarly useful infographic and advice in her post Five ways to build a more ethical closet (no matter your budget).
Both women - and pretty much everyone else interested in sustainable fashion - emphasise that an ethical wardrobe is about more than simply shifting your purchases from fast fashion to sustainable clothing brands. It's about buying less, looking after what you already own, making more mindful choices, purchasing second-hand, and, when you do buy new, spending your money on the best quality you can afford, with a focus on your personal style, not on trends.
(Related: I haven't read Anuschka's book, but I've had a pretty good look around her blog and it's a great resource for defining your style and putting an end to bad shopping decisions).
See A guide to curating a conscious closet and The guide to becoming a more ethical/socially conscious clothing consumer for more advice.
So that's the 'what' of ethical fashion covered...what about the 'how exactly'?
Learning to make do
Making do isn't a hardship if you're already starting with a gigantic stash of clothes and shoes, as I am (provided your gigantic stash of shoes and clothes works as a cohesive, functional wardrobe).
But what if you're starting with less? A minimalist or capsule wardrobe could be the answer (not that having a lot of stuff already stops you from exploring this approach).
The Tartan Brunette has some great advice on capsule wardrobes.
Capsule Wardrobes: the ultimate shopaholic detox
10 reasons why you should start a capsule wardrobe
How to create a capsule wardrobe
You could have a go at Project 333, a challenge created by Courtney Carver of Do More with Less, which involves wearing a wardrobe of only 33 items for three months (and yes, that 33 items includes shoes and accessories, but you could modify it a little to suit your lifestyle and needs, like Jennifer of Simply + Fiercely).
See also How to buy less and stop overspending and Why shopping is a bad hobby (and what to do instead) at Into Mind (seriously, that blog is a gold mine of practical advice).
When you do need to buy something
Finding ethical clothing is obviously far trickier than shopping for fast fashion; you can't just breeze into your local shopping centre and browse through rack after rack of stuff. Here's some places to look (Melbourne/Australia-focused, I'm afraid because I reckon if you care about the environmental impact of your clothing, buying local or Australian-made should be a priority):
Shedd is a phone app for buying and selling second-hand clothes which allows you to browse stuff being sold in your local area or further afield (also available on Android). This article has a list of other apps for buying and selling pre-loved clothing.
Click here, here and here for lists of Melbourne's best op shops.
If you're looking to buy new, check out 12 Australian fashion brands you can shop for online by the Eco Warrior Princess (an Australian site well worth a visit).
Check out the Ethical Consumer Organisation's website which summarises issues surrounding ethical clothing and rates company performance to help you work out where to spend (and not to spend) your money.
Similarly, the Good on You phone app by Ethical Consumers Australia allows you to search for a particular company or browse by category to see how brands rate on labour rights, environmental performance and animal welfare. It's also available for iPhone and Android.
How to recognise quality when you see it
Buying less means buying clothing that's built to last. But if you've spent most of your shopping life consuming fast fashion, it can be hard to recognise good quality when you see it. Into Mind has an excellent series of posts on how to assess the quality of garments and even a handy printable cheat sheet.
How to take good care of what you have
This site has lots of tips on how to properly clean, maintain and store clothing to make it last longer.
I've linked to this list of tips on how to care for everything in you wardrobe before, but it's worth mentioning again here.