As a small business, and as humans, at This Material Culture, we want to be a force for good. We’ve put together some top tips for sustainable shopping. In a world of fast fashion, trying to shop sustainably can be hard. But changing the way we buy can change the world, and there are so many ways you can learn to shop sustainably.
After I recently watched Stacey Dooley’s ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ I was struck by how devastating the fashion industry is for our planet. From the dumping of toxic chemicals in Thailand to the destruction of the Aral sea because of intensive cotton farming, the impact of our fashion choices is visibly shaping and harming the world. As a fashion brand, we want to offer an alternative to the mass-produced tat that’s often the easiest thing to buy. We want to encourage sustainable shopping too! Instead of giving up and crying, let’s learn to shop sustainably and challenge the way we are encouraged to buy.
Sustainable Vintage Shopping
I love vintage clothes and have worked with some incredible vintage sellers like pillbox vintage and girl in the blue coat. From fabulous 50s skirts to awesome 90s sunglasses, some of my favourite clothes and accessories are vintage. Forget the high street ‘vintage-look’ pieces; try to find the real thing! Shopping vintage means that clothes aren’t thrown away, they are treasured. You get unique, beautiful vintage pieces. And, your hard-earned cash goes to a fabulous independent business.
Have a clear out
It might sound counter-intuitive to have a clear out. However, a sort through your wardrobe can unearth some treasures you forgot you had. Try and clear out your current wardrobe of everything that you don’t wear and that doesn’t fit you. Those denim hot pants you loved when you were 16 are never going to fit you now (and that’s okay!), so sell them to someone who will love them as much as you did. Try selling on eBay, Etsy or Depop for some extra pennies or donate them to a charity shop for good karma. Swap clothes with your friends and work colleagues, have a rummage through your mum’s wardrobe or go to an organised clothes swap. Sustainable shopping doesn’t mean you need to spend more.
I love charity shops, and for me, they are the key to learning to sustainable shopping. Let’s break it down –
- Someone donates clothes instead of sending them to landfill – marvellous
- You get the fun of searching for bargains and finding one of a kind pieces
- They’re much cheaper than buying new
- Your money goes to a charity
- What’s not to love?
If you’re uneasy about wearing second-hand clothes, you can always have the clothes professionally cleaned. If you can’t get out to the shops, many charity shops now have online and eBay stores so you can shop second hand from the comfort of your sofa!
I might be biased, but I will constantly advocate shopping small. Supporting local and independent businesses is such a meaningful way to show you care about what you buy and rewarding those who are chasing their dreams. Small businesses are often more conscious about their environmental impact, and due to their small scale have much less of an impact on the planet. At This Material Culture, our handmade jewellery is created at home in Liverpool. We print our packaging. We reuse and recycle where we can and have worked on reducing waste. I make some of our pieces like the rainbow button necklaces out of reclaimed materials. Each one is unique too. Our toy necklaces are obviously recycled from old toys. We’ve salvaged plenty of beads from broken necklaces, and we even reuse envelopes where we can. We write a lot of business plans on the backs of envelopes too.
Choose fashion that does good
With so many choices available to us, we now have the opportunity to look for brands that do good. Fashion brands like TOMS, which donate a pair of shoes to someone in need for every purchase, are a brilliant way to both enjoy sustainable shopping and a good conscience too. Try and find other smaller brands who have worked with charities and eco-friendly retailers too. When you’re doing sustainable shopping, look for brands which use sustainable materials, reduced packaging and have a clear environmental policy.
Is slow fashion the future?
Perhaps the best antidote to the world of fast fashion is a thoughtful attitude. Try to find a greater appreciation for the impact of your choices and a second thought before you fill your online basket with loads of things you won’t wear. By no means should you stop buying stuff (especially lovely handmade jewellery)! However, by thinking about sustainable shopping, you can start to change the tide. Is a slow fashion revolution coming? Will people start making things themselves? Will patched jeans and altered dresses become the norm? We certainly hope so.