Sustainability for Shopaholics

Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash

Right now, my clothes fit at least three closets, which says something about my past shopaholic habits. You probably think I’m the least qualified person to talk about sustainability. The thing is, I serve as a reminder that anyone can be sustainable, even if you are a person who might have a slight obsession with clothes like me. These seven tips I give are practical, and you don’t have to be a super-rich person who can thrift and shop at expensive sustainable stores to be eco-conscious.

Through this, I will introduce what sustainability actually is, talk about utilizing capsule wardrobes, rewearing, shopping smarter, stopping the glorification of designer clothing, upcycling, shopping sustainably, and introducing you to influencers who focus on sustainable and affordable fashion.

What is Sustainability?

Sustainability is all about consuming less. With the word sustainability now, companies have manipulated us into thinking if we consume products labeled as “natural” and “eco-friendly” at the same rate as our unnatural consumption that we are sustainable. This is farther from the truth of what sustainability preaches.

How to Consume Less?

Here are some ways to consume less, and this is coming from a recovering shopaholic who would buy clothes every weekend. So, if I could do it, so can you!

  1. Capsule Wardrobes

Capsule Wardrobes means you take 30–40 pieces (if you can do less, that’s even better!) that you like during a season. You only wear those clothing pieces during the season and don’t buy any extra clothing. Then during the last two weeks, before the season ends, you can shop and plan for your clothing pieces for the next season or add to the capsule wardrobe you already have. All in all, this is about stopping impulse buying, so you can adjust these tips to fit your needs.

Here’s some inspiration for capsule wardrobes:

StealTheSpotlight has even more ideas for capsule wardrobes on her channel, and has outfits that fit a variety of fashion aesthetics to get inspiration from.
BestDressed utilizes on a more moderate style with her capsule wardrobe if your dress more conservatively or modestly. She also has more videos on how to buy sustainably and to consume less.

2. Rewear

You’ve heard of reduce, reuse, and recycle. Now there’s rewear. (yes, I know that it’s reusing, but it sounds cool.) Since I am a creative, that means I’m also very creative with how I use my clothes.

For dresses, I love layering turtlenecks, long sleeves, and any shirts that compliment the colors of my dresses on top or under my dresses. (thanks to bestdressed for teaching me her technique of stuffing a whole dress down your pants to turn it into a shirt.)

For shirts: you can change up the length by using safety pins to make your shirts appear cropped or shorter.

For basic clothing pieces, accessories can go a long way. Adding a jean jacket or interchanging between heels and sneakers can change your outfit’s aesthetic.

Videos on rewearing:

3. Shop Smart

I know there’s this massive stigma with buying from fast-fashion brands, but most sustainable brands are too expensive, or the clothing is modest and muted; which, personally, doesn’t match my style or budget at all.

Yes, I do buy from fast fashion stores, but I changed up my consumption habits. I realized that there is no reason for me to buy the same pattern in different outfit styles or buy clothes every month. I needed to buy clothes in moderation and think about if that clothing piece was durable and could be used for multiple outfits.

This goes for thrifting, too, as it hurts the lower class. As more people buy clothing from thrift stores, stores have to market their prices higher to compensate for the popularity. This makes it much harder for people in low-income households to buy clothing. So you can still thrift, but please do it in moderation, and try to buy from stores that aren’t located in low-income areas.

4. Branded Clothing Better

Many of us are obsessed with designer clothing to the point that it isn’t even about the outfit anymore, but the luxury of the brand. It’s nice to get a piece from Gucci, Burberry, Off-white, and more, but when you become obsessed with designer clothing, you become part of the problem of unstable consumption around the world. Luxury brands still contribute the same ecologically damaging effects that fast-fashion brands have.

5. Upcycle

Otherwise, known as DIYing your clothes. You can sew, paint, bleach, or cut your clothes if you want to change up how it looks. You can see how fast-fashion brands utilize the same pattern or cut in many different clothing styles. So instead of buying from them, why not do it yourself?

Some guides on upcycles and thrift flipping:

6. Shop Sustainable Brands/Platforms

If you do have the budget or you find sustainable brands that fit your style. Try to buy from them as opposed to fast-fashion brands. Additionally, there’s many online stores that you can buy clothes second-hand from. The first step is to look at a companies’ website to see if they are greenwashing or practicing sustainability. Here are some tips to avoid greenwashing companies:

  • Earthy Packaging — Companies can use earthy and muted packaging that gives off the impression that they are eco-friendly.
  • Vague Words- They use words like “natural” “green” and “sustainable” to market to consumers with no established sustainable practices.
  • Advertising — Companies use stock images and videos to appear environmentally conscious instead of showing how their clothes are being made.
  • Good On You- This app tells how how sustainable a brand is with a simple search.

List of Resale Platfroms:

  • Poshmark- Social Marketplace for resales of luxury to fast-fashion brands.
  • ThredUp- Online thrift store
  • The RealReal- luxury resale items

7. Educate Yourself

Here are some influencers that use their platform to educate people about fast fashion and sustainable practices:



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