- This article, contributed by Riley Rooney, intern for Kane County’s Division of Environmental and Water Resources, is Part 1 of a three-part series on Environmentally Conscious Shopping: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
When trying to become an environmentally conscious shopper, it is important to think about the effects the products you buy will have on the environment. So, let’s talk about clothing.
Everyone has bought clothing before, but what happens to it after we are done with it? According to the Huffington Post, “the average American will toss out 81 pounds of clothing this year. That amounts to 26 billion pounds of textiles and clothes ending up in landfills.”
By altering some of our spending habits, we can decrease the amount of clothing that we put into landfills. Listed below are a few tips to help guide purchasing habits.
Tip No.1: Avoid Buying Fast Fashion
I admit, I have fallen victim to buying quick style products and it is hard not to. When a new product pops up in the windows of department stores, there is a need to have the latest style.
Along with the purchasing power of online shopping it seems almost impossible at times to refrain from the instant gratification of one click. Trust me, I know, but as I have gotten older I have realized some of the disadvantages of buying fast fashion.
Not only is it a waste of money, but each piece of clothing you buy will eventually end up in a landfill which can have negative effects on the environment in the decades to come.
Tip No. 2: Think Long Term
Buy products that will not only last, but that will be able to be worn for more than four or five years. The more use the product gets, the better.
For example, high quality denim products, leather, and wool typically last years, if not decades. Find a product that you like and can withstand years of wear and tear.
Tip No. 3: Buy Clothes You Love
If you do not love the product on the rack, you will not wear it after you buy it. Remembering this has saved me a lot of money in the past couple of years as well as saving clothing from ending up in the trash.
In the long run, I feel better about the products I buy and know that what I have bought will not take up unnecessary space in a landfill a year after buying the product.
Tip No. 4: Shop For The Basics
While it might be obvious, shopping for the basics can help your wallet and the environment.
By having basic clothing products as opposed to statement pieces, you will have more items to mix and match which will get more wear than products that will only be used a handful of times.
Tip No. 5: Pay a Higher Price For Quality
Sometimes higher prices can be a good thing. While buying higher quality goods might not always be an option for every shopper, purchasing high quality clothing will typically last longer than those that are inexpensive.
Think of it as an investment, if you buy an expensive item of clothing and it last for five years or longer, it turns out that buying that one expensive product saved more money than buying a cheap product each year.
Tip No. 6: Do Your Research!
Do some research into the brands you purchase. Earlier this year I found a really great resource called Good On You.
This website/app allows its users to search their favorite brand names to see how they rank towards the environment, people, and animals. Knowing how ethical the brands you buy from can have a huge impact on where you choose to shop.
Find brands that fit your style, make you feel good, and have a positive impact on the environment and those who live in it.
Tip No. 7: Listen To Emma
“In truth, we can all play a part in driving fashion to be more sustainable and ethical. By choosing to wear clothes from labels that embrace transparent, creative and innovative production methods; and by re-wearing, recycling, swapping and thrifting.”
— Emma Watson, Good On You Ambassador
Whatever tips you choose to implement into your lifestyle, keep in mind that as the consumer you have the purchasing power to make a real change.
Although one person’s decisions might not be enough to make a huge difference, by spreading awareness we can make a large impact together.