Over the past couple years I’ve been shopping slower, which has in turn helped me focus more on sustainability. Thinking about how the environment is affected by my shopping habits has come hand-in-hand with building a more minimal wardrobe. One of the reasons I started a minimal wardrobe in the first place was to buy less and therefore decrease my eco-footprint. So, finding even more ways to focus on sustainability has become a priority, too.

To me, shopping sustainably doesn’t mean only thrifting, or only purchasing clothing from sustainable brands, or never buying anything new. It means being generally conscious of where you’re purchasing your clothing, shopping secondhand more frequently, wearing your clothing for a long time, and buying slowly and intentionally.

If you’re interested in shopping slower and with the environment in mind, here’s a beginner’s guide to shopping sustainably.

the beginner’s guide to shopping sustainably

Here are eight different ways you can introduce sustainability into your wardrobe.

buy and swap secondhand

visit your local thrift shop

Thrifting is generally what comes to mind when people think of buying secondhand. There are tons of great thrift and consignment stores around that are chock-full of clothing that deserves a second home. If you’re patient, you can find some great pieces (even designer!) for a fraction of the cost.

take part in re-commerce 

Websites like Poshmark, ThredUp, and Facebook Marketplace are full of brand new and gently used items being resold for less. It’s a great way to shop secondhand (especially since you can specifically search for items and brands) and sell some of your clothing, too.

I’ve bought a number of clothing items brand new with tags (BNWT) and brand new without tags (BNWOT) from my favourite brands – like Madewell and Oak + Fort – on these sites!

do a clothing swap

If you have a friend or family member whose style you love, suggest doing a clothing swap. Bring any clothing you have that’s well-loved and in good condition, and they’ll do the same. Make a date of it with wine and charcuterie!

Levi’s denim shirt – secondhand | Madewell jeans – Poshmark | Hat + mockneck – H&M (one year or older)

purchase from sustainable brands

There are so many amazing clothing brands that commit to sustainability through the materials they use (like linen, denim, organic cotton, tencel, etc.) and they way they produce their clothing. This round-up from The Good Trade is a great and sustainable (and ethical, which I will touch on in another blog post) fashion guide with a range of price points. Look for small shops, too, as they will likely produce in smaller batches which means less waste!

Shopping from sustainable brands is a great way to use your dollars to support the environment.

invest in some high-quality pieces 

Investing in high quality means you’ll have that item of clothing for a longer time. Buying less frequently and for the long-term results in less clothing that ends up in landfills – it’s as simple as that.

You don’t have to invest in every piece of clothing you own; buy high quality pieces that you know will be classic for years to come, like a great fitting pair of jeans, a wool overcoat, or a basic knit sweater.

Coat – Mango | Shirt – secondhand | Jeans – Madewell Clutch – secondhand Boots – Zara

rent clothing for special events

A great way to be sustainable in your wardrobe while still trying out fun pieces is to rent clothing. Whether it’s for a special event, a vacation, or a photoshoot, there are many companies that rent designer pieces (such as Sprout Collection). The best part is you can wear something new-to-you while keeping your wardrobe light, and you won’t have as many unworn items in your closet.

repair your clothing

Things like broken zippers, small holes, and missing buttons can generally all be fixed. Repairing your clothing when you can, rather than tossing it in the trash, is a great way to continue wearing pieces you love, and ensuring less clothing lands up in landfills. It also tends to be much less expensive than buying a new piece.

buy clothing you love

For most people – me included! – it’s not realistic to swear off fast fashion forever. In my opinion, it’s totally okay to buy from fast fashion brands as long as you buy things you’ll get a lot of wear out of, and you don’t throw those things in the trash after one season.

Simply put: buy what you love and wear it!

And that’s it – my beginner’s guide to building a sustainable wardrobe! Do you have any sustainable shopping tips? Are there any here that you’d like to try?

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