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The Most Impactful Ways Your Shopping Habits Can Help The Environment

by: Rosie Dalton | 3 years ago | Features

Image: Dame Vivienne Westwood is all about buying less, choosing well and making it last. Image source.

As we speed towards that festive time of the year, it’s likely that shopping will be high on the minds of many. And with that comes the pressure to not only find the perfect gift (or collection thereof), but also to find the perfect special occasion wear. We are about to enter party season after all. But have you ever stopped to wonder about the environmental toll your shopping habits might be having on the planet? This is the dirty secret behind all the dressed up shop windows and light-hearted jingles we're accustomed to at Christmastime.

So, this being the season of shopping, why not use the opportunity to shift your shopping habits ever so slightly? It doesn’t take a great deal to become a more environmentally conscious consumer. In fact, with a few small adjustments, you could transform all of that gift-giving and party shopping into a more positive experience for the planet – and ultimately for yourself. Because, in our experience, sparing a little more thought for the pieces you invest in tends to make them all the more valuable in the long run. Here are some of the best ways your shopping habits can help the planet.

1) Buy less
Perhaps the single most significant way that your shopping habits can help the environment comes through simply buying less. When you consider statistics like that the average Australian sends approximately 23 kilograms of textile waste to landfill per year, it becomes clear that we are consuming more than we need. So how do we go about addressing that fact? The first step needs to be in reducing our fashion consumption and finding other ways to use clothing as a vehicle for personal expression. Favouring timeless pieces and developing a personal uniform is one way of doing this, as is updating the seasonality of your wardrobe through accessories. Either way, we all need to commit to buying less, before we can escape the relentless cycle of unnecessary consumption.

2) Buy quality
Tied up in this notion of reducing our clothing consumption is also the idea that we need to be buying better quality clothing at the same time. If all we are buying is cheaply made fast fashion that’s designed to disintegrate, then certainly reducing our intake can help slow the shopfront to landfill process. However, investing in quality, well-made clothing has the potential to transform this process altogether, by making it decades slower and, at the same time, introducing a new consumer appreciation for fashion items. As Vivienne Westwood’s mantra goes, “buy less, choose well, make it last.”

3) Tailor things
The third clause in Vivienne Westwood’s mantra is about making your clothing last and one important way of achieving this is to actually fix what’s broken. Rather than simply discarding your favourite pair of jeans when they develop a hole or the zipper becomes sticky, invest a little TLC into your well-worn pieces and treat them with the respect they deserve. Companies like Patagonia prove just how easy it can be to mend your own clothing through initiatives such as Worn Wear. But even if you aren’t the do it yourself type, there are still plenty of great tailors out there who can help you mend your favourite items for a fraction of the cost of replacing those good quality pieces.

4) Shop sustainable
Going back to the idea of choosing quality over quantity, buying sustainable fashion can also have a huge impact on the environment. This is because these pieces have been crafted specifically with the environment in mind. While certain crops like conventional cotton are terrible for the planet – accounting for just 2.4% of the world’s land, but 24% of the world’s insecticides, for example – sustainable alternatives like organic cotton are much more environmentally friendly. Meanwhile, closed loop fabrics such as Tencel and Modal also help to push back against traditional deforestation and instead harvest natural materials in a responsible way.

5) Choose vegan
Traditional animal products like leather not only harm animals, but are also harmful to the environment as a whole. This is because a number of dangerous chemicals including formaldehyde are typically used in the tanning process and many of these chemicals then prevent those garments from biodegrading naturally. In addition to this, the production of fur and leather jackets consumes on average 20 times more energy than the amount used to produce a jacket made from natural or synthetic fibres, according to PETA. So choosing vegan products over traditional animal products not only helps our furry friends, but also helps the planet as a whole.

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