A Guide to Shopping Sustainably

Photo: Sarah Golliver

Over the last few years, more and more people are becoming informed about the horrors behind the fast fashion industry. From being one of the most pollutant industries to using child and cheap labor, staying aware of what these types of businesses do for profit makes it almost revolting to continue supporting them. With that being said, there’s the inevitable question of, “What can I do about that? How can I stop supporting fast fashion?” Well… it’s actually pretty simple!

Thrifting/Secondhand Clothing

Thrifting is probably the most obvious ways to start shopping sustainably and I’m so happy that it has become more popular nowadays. It might seem overwhelming at first, but keep an open mind and just explore, it’s so much more enjoyable that way, especially with friends! Plus, finding a piece at the thrift is a top tier feeling. Thrifting is also the easiest and cheapest way to start getting away from fast fashion; ever since I started a couple years ago, I became less excited about going to the mall, and instead going to find the nearest thrift. When I first moved to Blacksburg as a freshman, I was a little upset there weren’t any thrift shops downtown until VTTHRIFT opened their temporary store; if you haven’t paid them a visit yet, the Harley Davidson shirt and the Tommy Hilfiger jeans are from them! And if you don’t feel comfortable actually going into a thrift store just yet, there are plenty of online vintage and thrift stores like Depop, blocvintage, and more.

Ethical Brands

If you’re someone who is willing to spend more money to transition into a sustainable wardrobe, researching and discovering new and ethical shops is also another way to start. While some of them tend to be on the pricey side, you get a bigger bang for your buck; many, if not all of them deliver high quality and styles that are always in trend. Shopping at these brands also feels better because you know what you’re supporting and putting your money into, rather than ignoring it. Being aware of where the clothing in your closet comes from and the process of how it’s made also provides a sense of comfort. Patagonia, Levis, and Reformation are examples of widely known brands that have committed to or are improving their sustainability, environmental impact, or labor conditions, etc.

Photo: Sarah Golliver

Mindset and Lifestyle

The most fundamental part of making a switch to sustainable clothing is really just putting in the effort to do so. Doing things like donating unused clothes instead of throwing them out is an example, or it can be as simple as just keeping some of them in a storage somewhere. There have been countless times where I’ve looked through clothes I haven’t worn in a while and thought of different ways to style them to my liking! Another way to maintain this type of lifestyle is valuing quality over quantity. Instead of throwing money at piles of cheaply made clothes that can rip/break in a couple months, spend a bit more to get pieces that you know will last for a long time. Despite what people say, getting used to this kind of lifestyle can save you money too.

Coming from someone who used to spend an unforgivable amount of money at Urban Outfitters, Zara, and H&M, and more, I know it can be hard to stop shopping at fast fashion industries. But once I started slowly building a sustainable wardrobe, I realized that I could still be “trendy” and have cool, affordable fits without supporting these brands. Being patient and mindful goes a long way!

Photo: Sarah Golliver

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