Become a more sustainable shopper with these 5 game-changing questions to ask yourself before buying new clothes. Shop smart and help protect the environment by purchasing what you truly need and will love to wear. Don't miss out on these essential tips!
April 19, 2023
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There is no denying the dopamine rush that comes from tapping the ‘buy now’ button online or swiping your card at the checkout of your favourite boutique.
But, it's also important to recognise the detrimental impact our shopping habits can have on both the environment and the people who make our clothes.
Fast fashion means we can now purchase clothing more often, at a cheaper price and more conveniently than ever before. The downside is that an unfettered fashion industry is polluting our soil, poisoning waterways, and damaging our planet beyond repair.
We’re not suggesting you give up buying clothes altogether. After all, clothing is essential and it is also part of how we express ourselves and define who we are.
But, changing the way you engage with fashion can be empowering, and you can feel good about the choices you make! You can still get your fashion fix and allay some of your eco-anxiety by planning your shopping trips wisely and being more mindful of your purchases.
Next time you feel the urge to impulse shop, simply ask yourself these five questions to help you decide if the item is really worth it.
Do I really need this item?
One of the easiest ways to create a more sustainable wardrobe is simply buying less. Instead of purchasing new clothes on a whim, why not shop a little more wisely – and avoid any unwanted remorse or eco-guilt!
Before every purchase, ask yourself: Do I truly need an item or just want it? Do I already have something similar in my wardrobe? Will this piece of clothing last a long time?
Asking yourself questions like these can help you to determine whether the investment is worthwhile, or just an impulse buy. Next, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.
What is the garment made of?
Before you make a purchase, find out what materials were used to make the item and where they came from. By choosing more sustainable fabrics, you can help reduce the environmental impact of your closet.
For example, organic cotton is more sustainable than conventional cotton since organic farming uses no chemicals, fertilisers or pesticides, and often uses less water.
Fabrics like modal and bamboo are also great options, provided that the trees harvested to make the fibres were responsibly sourced.
Petroleum-based fabrics like polyester release microplastics when washed (and even while you’re wearing them), so they are best to avoid. These tiny plastics damage our eco-systems and pollute our waterways.
Although recycled options are definitely better, it’s important to remember that recycled polyester will still shed these harmful microfibres.
It’s always worth considering where the garment will end up once you’re finished with it. Importantly, this is one of the most environmentally damaging aspects of fast fashion.
Biodegradable and compostable fabrics, such as pure cotton and linen, are perhaps the only truly circular solution. But, we can prolong the life of any garment by simply investing in quality pieces and taking care of them properly.
Is the price realistic and fair?
It’s easy to be lured in by the promise of trendy, fashionable clothes at low prices. But things are not always what they seem.
The next time you come across a piece of clothing that costs less than a cup of coffee, ask yourself: Why is this garment so cheap? And if I’m paying so little, who is really paying the price?
One of the reasons so-called ethical or sustainable manufacturing tends to garner a higher price tag is that it must meet higher standards, from the raw materials to the production facilities and worker safety.
While synthetic materials might be cheaper, they are also more harmful to the environment. Also bear in mind that If an item is very cheap, it’s unlikely the person who made it was paid a fair wage, which brings us to the next question.
Where was it made and by whom?
Realising a more sustainable fashion industry doesn't just mean using earth-friendly materials. A sustainable and kind industry should prioritise ethical practices too.
This means providing factory workers with fair wages, good working conditions, and a safe environment.
It’s best to avoid clothing made using cheap materials in unregulated factories where employees are unlikely to receive a fair wage. But how can you tell whether a garment has been ethically manufactured?
Taking just a small amount of time to research can give you insights into the manufacturing conditions and ethical standards of a brand, and help you make better choices.
Is the brand being transparent?
It can be tough to distinguish between truly responsible brands and those just selling a promise. As a conscious consumer, before you make your next purchase why not take a look on the brand’s website and get to know them and their values.
There’s no need to spend hours researching. Those brands truly focused on being more ethical and sustainable are more than happy to share their certifications, stories and values.
And if you can’t find this information on a brand’s website, it may be best to avoid them. But as a caveat, it’s also important to note that small independent brands may not have the means or resources to obtain every sustainable certification.
Use your own judgement to determine whether a brand is truly dedicated to doing things better or just greenwashing.
Questioning our consumer habits and accepting the role we play in facilitating the fast fashion industry, isn’t alway easy.
But altering your shopping habits and making small changes can be very rewarding – for your wardrobe, the environment, and your peace of mind.
To learn more about living a more sustainable lifestyle and the ongoing fight against fast fashion, check out our Ultimate Guide to Sustainable Living.
We're passionate about transparency at Bon+Berg and want you to be too! Dive deeper into our values and sustainability efforts, or take a peek at our TENCEL™ Modal x Micro products that are not only soft and comfy but also eco-friendly.