In recent years, more and more people have become aware of the damage caused by society’s greedy consumption of clothes. Not only does it promote unethical work conditions for millions of workers but it also promotes unnecessary wasteful mass-production.With the future of the planet and its people in mind, many consumers are now trying to make ethical and sustainable choices when buying clothes. The truth is that these choices are more complicated than they might seem. Many decisions in ethical consumerism come with a set of compromises. One decision leads to another one which might lead to a problem or another set of decisions and often you have to make your decisions by weighing the best balance of them all. It can sometimes be quite overwhelming and exhausting!
A few weeks ago, I launched this very simple question on Twitter: “What are your 3 top tips to become a conscious consumer?” I was amazed by the number of answers I got from many ethical living advocates not only living in the UK but also in the USA and Australia. Under the sweet impulse of @BesmaCc, I decided to gather all the valuable tips I got and share them with you. Luckily, for those interested in doing more ethical consumerism, there is a wealth of small changes, easy enough for anyone looking to up their shopping game, and use the power of their money to change the world, one purchase at a time.
From my original question, 20 great tips emerged to guide you in becoming a more conscious consumer.
TO START WITH:
1. Define your values and priorities @SianEConway in order to understand what motivates you. That will be your compass. @stylewiseblog
2. Educate yourself with documentaries/articles/books/blogs/podcasts/radio @LeotieLovely
3. Take things step by step, don’t try and do it all at once! @ethicalunicorn
HOW TO USE YOUR CLOTHES:
4. Care @orsoladecastro
5. Make a friend of mending, or a local mender, to extend the life of your favourite pieces @MrsPress
6. Keeping things for a long time @orsoladecastro is better than recycling @lessstuffnow
7. Make creative use of what you already own @bel_jacobs
BEFORE YOU BUY:
8. Research and find brands who share your ethics @BesmaCc. Always research the brand away from their own website where they control the narrative @SophieBenson_
9. Try and find companies that are local to you @ethicalunicorn
10. Can you borrow? @GreenEditionEU
WHEN YOU BUY:
11. Stop shopping as a hobby @rae_ritchie_ and break up with fast fashion! @LeotieLovely
12. Shop secondhand first @stylewiseblog. Get thrifty, there are so many awesome clothes in charity shops! @MrsPress
13. When not buying used, buy the best quality you can so it will last. @rae_ritchie_
14. Look at the label – where was it made? Is the company transparent about this info? @jake2103
15. Ask yourself ‘do I really need this?’ or ‘will I love it for years to come?’ @SophieBenson_. It saves cash and reduces consumption @jake2103
16. Sleep on it – do you really love it or is it a whim buy? @MrsPress. Wait before you buy; longing is wonderful. @orsoladecastro
17. Start replacing items you regularly use, dispose of reusables. @LeotieLovely
18. Avoid synthetics that are going to shed micro-plastics when you wash them. @tamsinblanchard
19. Buy experiences rather than things. There is a fair bit of research to suggest that experiences make us happier than things. @lessstuffnow
20. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up – but don’t stop trying to find alternatives @bel_jacobs. If you fall off the ‘ethical wagon’ don’t despair – keep going, it’s worth it (and not just to you!) @WhereDoesItCome
The shift towards buying fashion consciously is real and manageable, even if it consumes time and energy. It is your choice to start this journey and decide to spend extra time to ensure the way you act aligns with the sort of world you want to live in. It is also a great opportunity to join a huge community of ethical living lovers ready to support you in changing your habits.
Do you have any tips to share or look for support? Leave your comments here below or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.