How to Shop Sustainably & Save Money

by | Mar 10, 2020 | Lifestyle, Minimalism

The slow fashion industry has definitely gained momentum in recent years, and for good reason! In today’s post I’m covering 5 ways to shop sustainably, save money, and create an intentional wardrobe.

sustainable ethical clothing

In one of my videos from a few months ago I shared my minimalist wardrobe essentials. The pieces I wear again and again, and can be worn in many different ways. But since then I’ve been wanting to share a follow-up on my best tips for creating an intentional wardrobe in the first place (also known as a capsule or minimalist wardrobe).

In today’s post I’m talking about how we can shop more thoughtfully and save money to boot! Of course, I’m referring to clothing, but many of these tips can apply to all sorts of other purchases.

What Is Slow Fashion?

Let’s quickly chat about slow vs. fast fashion. You’ve probably heard of the term ‘slow fashion’ before. It’s all about designing, producing — and from a consumers perspective — purchasing quality items that are meant to last. Slow fashion also takes into consideration the welfare of employees and our environment.

Fast fashion on the other hand refers to the production of as many products as possible as quickly as possible with little regard to materials used or the environmental impact of those materials. You tend to also see poorer working conditions and wages inside the fast fashion industry.

Did you know that textile waste has risen from 7% to 30% in the last 5 years due to the rise of fast fashion? Crazy.

How to Shop Sustainably & Save Money

1. Shop Secondhand

I adore thrifting. I’ve shopped secondhand for years, and it’s a great place to check first, before buying brand new. Shopping secondhand is less expensive and it’s less wasteful. The average American throws away ~70 pounds of clothing every year, but buying a used garment extends its life by about 2 years on average which reduces carbon, waste, and water footprints.

I encourage you to check out your local thrift shops. For online options, I like thredUP. To see some of the pieces I recently picked up from thredUP, watch my video here.

ethical clothing

2. Consider Ethical/Sustainable Brands

If buying new, consider ethical/sustainable clothing brands more often. These companies value the principles of slow fashion (using reusable, eco-friendly or natural materials), have an awareness of their environmental impact such as water usage, waste by-products, and producing items using clean energy. They also tend to pay fairer wages to employees and provide safer working conditions.

Some notable companies here are Reformation, PACT, People Tree, Organic Basics, and Everlane, one of my favourites!

Are these companies more expensive? Yes, typically. This is because the cost of production is higher, using quality materials is pricey, and paying better wages to employees costs more. My suggestion here is to view these items as investments that will last a long time, rather than getting stuck in the cycle of purchasing new clothes frequently.

It’s important for me to emphasize here though: don’t feel bad if you’re not shopping 100% sustainably or ethically all the time. This isn’t realistic for a lot of us, myself included. Doing our part, big or small, is still valuable.

Even if we do buy ‘fast fashion’ items at times, just being aware of it, doing our best not to overdo it and making items last as long as possible is a great starting point.

3. Make Items Last

Simply put, make your items last as long as you can. Things like taking proper care of them, playing with accessories to spice up an old shirt, or trying on some clothes in the back of your closet that you haven’t worn in a while. Sometimes they’re exciting again!

Use clothing pieces for as long as possible instead of getting stuck in the cycle of purchasing something new frequently. This a good mindset to have in general.

4. Avoid Impulse Shopping

This is good to do for any kind of purchase, and clothing is no exception. Impulsive purchases usually just lead to wasted money, with more stuff don’t need cluttering up our wardrobe (or other spaces depending on what we buy).

Tip: Pause before you buy. Let the excitement wear off by putting an item down, letting in sit in your online ‘cart’, walking around the store or leaving altogether. If it’s still on your mind in a couple days, come back to it.

For more tips, read my post on 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase.

5. Create an Intentional Wardrobe

An intentional wardrobe as I like to call it is all about being intentional about what you buy. Shopping as needed instead of needlessly, owning pieces that you love, use, and feel good in, with an emphasis on versatility. Similar to capsule wardrobes, intentional wardrobes are a great way to reduce waste and save money.

Here’s how you can get started:

1. Understand your style & preferences: An invaluable tip I learned from Caroline Joy from the blog Un-Fancy many years ago is to take note of the clothes you wear the most and least, and why.

Take ’em all out of your closet and lay them out. Is it the fit? The material? Colour? Style? Donate the ones you dislike, and keep the ones you still wear.

The reason why this little activity is so useful is because it helps you avoid wasteful purchases in the future. You have a more thorough understanding of your style and preferences.

2. Know your lifestyle: Basically, stop buying pieces that don’t make sense for you. That’s it. Are you at home a lot? Are you very active? Do you work an office job?

It’s easy to fantasize about clothes or outfits we see (I’ve done this many a time!) A lot of times these items are cute, but highly impractical for our lifestyle.

3. Have versatile pieces: I’ve learned over the years that less is usually more. We probably don’t need 10 different brown sweaters. Having a versatile wardrobe with timeless essentials allows you to wear your clothes in different ways, to various occasions, and through the seasons, without constantly needing to buy new stuff.

If you don’t have many versatile pieces, use the above tips to understand your preferences and invest in some great basics. See my video on my Minimalist Wardrobe Essentials.

I hope you found these tips helpful! Have any to share? Leave ’em in the comments below!

by Meghan Livingstone

Note: this post may contain affiliate links. Learn more here.

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Hi, I’m Meghan. I’m a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, blogger, and YouTuber with a passion for healthy, simple living. I’m here to inspire you to listen to your body, eat mindfully and wholesomely, and create a fulfilling life that’s completely unique to you.