Sunday, March 4, 2018

Trigger words: ethical, eco, etc.

There is a lot of information out there right now about reducing your carbon footprint, shopping ethically, recycling, using natural based products, conserving water and other natural resources, etc etc etc. All of these are great things — if you have the means (you can incorporate these ways of life on any budget + scale), living with these principals will not only enhance your way of life, but make an impact to better the word we live in.  

In my quest to a simplified, consistent, and all around more ethical closet - I have also found myself researching a lot of these principals.
I have and am continually gaining the knowledge to shop smarter in every way. Whether it’s reading the ingredients on anything processed that we buy, knowing what ingredients I am putting on my face, striving for an (almost) entirely natural beauty routine, and seeking more transparency from where I shop - I am putting my research into action and making changes in light of it.

Again, all of these things are great, but these trigger words that we hear all the time and all of the advice that is out there is useless if we don’t know how to use it.  And by that, I mean how to start using it. By now, we all know the intention behind these words, but we lack the know-how to act on it. 

I don’t know about you, but it’s daunting to me.  Here’s where the research comes in.

I don’t know how they get these exact stats, but rumor has it the average person in Los Angeles creates around 5lbs of trash A DAY and 6 tons of clothes gets thrown out every 10 minutes. (!!!) 
The facts are alarming. So how do you start to reverse these trends? 

You may be thinking — ‘If I were to start reversing and reducing my footprint right now — it would be an overhaul — that would require a lot of waste’ (getting rid of the packages food comes in, etc). Or in regards to your closet -  ‘To maintain a more streamlined closet, I must declutter my closet, which means getting rid of clothes by way of donating them’.

You’re right, it all has to start somewhere, but it doesn’t have to be all at once and it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. 

‘Shopping smarter’ starts with how you think about shopping. I know a lot of sustainable brands aren’t cheap and I’ve been thrifting and second hand shopping since I was a teenager, so I know that can be overwhelming. But I have learned some tricks of the trade to help you along your sustainable shopping journey.

01.  Shop other people’s closets!  By far the easiest and cheapest way to shop sustainably is to shop at consignment  and resale store. Brick and mortar places like Crossroads or the online versions like Depop and Poshmark are super easy and accessible ways to shop sustainably and make use of the clothes that are already out there, instead of using up resources to create something new.  Once you start finding things you love at a fraction of the price, it will feel a lot harder to pay full price for something and  you’ll know you’re keeping these clothes from piling up in a landfill somewhere. 

02. Thrift! I know this can be a chore sometimes but there are hidden gems hiding in these places. Check out a few of your closest thrift stores and make note of the ones that are more organized and that you’ve noticed things you like at, then refer back to your streamlined wishlist (one of my favorite tools for shopping smart: keeping a concise wishlist of the items your closet is missing to keep you accountable) and only look for those items. I also like to set a time limit for how long I can be in my local Goodwill so that I don’t aimlessly walk around and add things to my cart that I don’t need. 

03.  Lastly,  as Vivienne Westwood once said ‘Buy less, choose well, make it last” —  If you aren’t into shopping second hand, I get it. It’s not for everyone. We are lucky that there are a TON of ethical brands with great quality items coming out of the woodworks right now (and your bank account won’t hate you for their prices).   Brands like Everlane, Reformation, Whimsy and Row, Grana, and Mejuri are all fairly priced and these items will stand the test of time. They’re not as cheap as fast fashion prices because you are actually paying someone a fair price to make the item. It’s an adjustment from Forever 21 and H&M, but it also helps to filter out the mindless purchases. It requires thoughtfulness when shopping. It requires sticking to your list and forgoing cheap impulse buys.  Remember, you’re curating a wardrobe and cutting out excess. In the end, you’ll be glad you spent a little more for a lasting product.

So now you know how to shop smarter, but what about recycling your clothes? 

To get to a point where you can live out these aforementioned principals, one has to first have a time of purging. Which, if done incorrectly, only plays INTO the problem that you are trying to work against and the very principal you’re trying to uphold!

Fear not!

There are a lot of resources out there to better recycle clothes. Currently the amount of clothes being donated to Goodwill (and the likes) is too great a number for them to put out, sell, etc. This results in the excess still ending up at a landfill.

01. Try having a clothes swap with your friends!  Get together with a group of friends after you’ve all gone through your closet and gathered up the things you don’t wear and ‘shop’ each other’s closets!

02. Another way to better recycle your clothes is to take them to re-sale and consignment stores like Crossroads (remember these from two seconds ago?!). These stores sift through your (gently used) clothes and resell them — making you a little extra cash and furthering the recycle process - letting someone else shop your no longer worn items!

03. Lastly - a lot of sustainable brands have provided a recycling program that makes sure the clothes get put to good use (i.e. recycled into insulation, reusing the fabric etc.) Brands like Reformation and Madewell have super easy and accessible ways of donating your used jeans + clothes to them! 

It may all seem daunting or maybe it feels like you’re just one person and your impact wont be enough — but if everyone took small steps like this to live a slightly more ethical and eco friendly lifestyle, I think we’d be surprised the strides we could make. We all shop, and I definitely won’t tell you to stop (maybe do it a little less, though), I’m just saying let’s do it smarter. 


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