Earth Day - 5 Easy ways to Shop Sustainably | Madewell Central Shirt and Leather Backpack
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Happy Earth day! What better way to celebrate than spend the day at the US Botanic Garden? I feel so fortunate that I have such a gorgeous greenhouse full of beautiful blooms and plants right in my neighborhood.
In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to share a few tips on very easy things anyone can do to shop more sustainably. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve made a commitment to sustainability this year by going on a one year shopping ban. Now, while that’s the most sustainable thing a person can do, it’s definitely not the easiest thing, nor is it necessarily the most practical one for everyone’s lifestyle. I’m here to talk about much easier things. Who knows? If you start doing at least some of these, you may be inspired to do harder things too!
Related post: One Year Shopping Ban
Shop Local and Shop Online
If you aren’t willing to completely cut off your shopping like I did, I suggest you guys shop local and shop online. Local boutiques and designers are always a great idea to support and they probably need your support more than, say, H&M or Forever 21 would. It’s also a great idea to shop online because about 22% of a garment’s climate impact comes from the consumer physically driving themselves to a store and trying on things, then driving to another store to that specific piece, then driving themselves home. So then, you may ask, why is buying online more sustainable? Because getting your piece delivered via Fedex, UPS, or eve USPS is quite similar to your clothes taking public transport to get to you. Plus, your clothes are probably going to come from a distribution center so it won’t go to the store at all and instead head straight to you. Frankly, online shopping impacts the environment much less than a brick-and-mortar store so if you’re going shopping, head to your computer instead!
Avoid Certain Fabrics and Buy These instead
Let me give you a quick rundown: polyester and all synthetic fibers (it’s pretty much just plastic thread) are harmful to the environment! They shed microfibers into waterways that do get into our food (think about the last time you had seafood, and you’ve probably ingested those fibers then). Acryllic fabrics are even more toxic to produce. Viscose rayon production is a major cause of rainforest destruction.
I know that these fabrics are hard to completely avoid and I am not saying that if you buy a piece of clothing with these materials in it you’re a bad person because obviously you’re not. I have pieces made of these materials too (I’m wearing them in this post, even) and throwing them out to end up in landfills is an even worse idea than wearing the crap out of them. Instead, towards the end of last year, I started buying pieces made of more sustainable materials instead like cotton, silk, wool, or linen. I wrote a whole piece on the environmental benefits of wearing linen. Polyester is also hard to avoid as a yogi and a regular runner so I’ve been looking for athletic clothes made of polyester made from recycled post-consumer products like bottles, carpets, and fishnets. Tencel is also a great alternative to viscose rayon so I really recommend that fabric if you can find it.
Related post: The Benefits of Linen | Linen Dress and Structured Coat
Seek out Ethical Brands
I’ve been talking about a bunch of ethical brands here on this blog - both expensive and affordable. That’s right, guys! Buying ethical clothes don’t have to break the bank! I’m planning out a post on some great ethical brands soon but there are lots of ethical and fair trade brands out there - some you may have heard of like Everlane or Reformation, and others that are more obscure like Nisolo or Lemlem. Do your research, or even better, search through my Friday Coffee Chat posts where I’m usually lusting after a piece made from a great ethical or fair-trade company!
I’ve talked a bit about how a lot of the things we donate to charities end up in a landfill so if you can buy these pieces before the end up there, we should!Thrifting has become a major trend and if you can do so and have access to thrift shops, have at it! A great tip from my mom on thrifting: go to the thrift store in a wealthy neighborhood and I guarantee you’ll find a much nicer selection of pieces there. If you’re into boutiquing, go to a consignment store! It’s more expensive than thrifting but it’s still more affordable than buying first-hand. Don’t have access to a thriftstore nearby? I feel you and I’ve been there. I recommend checking out thredUP! ThredUP is an online thrift store and if you remember me talking about how online shopping is better for the environment than driving, you can most assuredly do some guilt-free shopping there! I also recommend Poshmark, an online selling and buying app as most pieces you’ll find there are secondhand as well. The RealReal is also a great place to shop if you’re looking for something upscale (like a Chanel bag).
Related post: Marie Kondo…But Make it Sustainable | Bow Sweater and Comfy Jeans
If you have an event to attend, want to try out a new trend, or just feeling bored with your wardrobe, try renting your clothing! Renting clothes can really help you feel amazing while using fewer resources. I love Rent the Runway for formal events (I wore an Elizabeth and James dress for a ball a few years back) but there are also other great options like Le Tote or Style Lend!