How you can score new things without buying

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We know that overconsumption is a problem and that we need to find a more circular approach in fashion, as well as buying less in general. So to follow up my latest post about shopping bans I wanted to share some more ideas on how you can get more variety in your closet without buying anything new.

5 ways to renew your closet without consumption

Swapping

Swapping parties have become a huge thing lately, and it’s because they are a great way of both getting rid of things you don’t like anymore or wear enough, while also scoring some new finds. It’s usually free or at a small fee to attend a swap party. If there are none in your area, why not try organizing your own one? Maybe bring together some friends for a swap date or organize one in your office after work.

Borrowing

Another great option to inject a bit of variety into one’s closet without consumption is to borrow clothes. Borrow from friends, parents, siblings, a partner or whatever makes sense to you. For special occasions like weddings and parties, it’s a great idea to look around with your friends to see if anyone has formal wear you could borrow. Borrowing in your friend group can allow you to attend every party with a new dress without straining the environment or your finances. Borrowing is not only for formal though. I do it for everyday things too. Borrowing a cardigan from my mom when I feel cold, or a shirt from a boyfriend to get that perfect oversize fit.

Refashioning

This one requires a certain amount of craft skills, but don’t be put off, you don’t have to be a tailor to refashion or upcycle garments. One simple thing one can do with an item is to dye it in another color. Maybe you can update your old jeans by cropping them or adding some simple embroidery? Take the sleeves off a t-shirt to make a sleeveless top or crop it to make a crop top? If you are good with sewing the sky is the limit! Dresses can be shortened, made into a shirt, made into a top or redesigned completely into a new garment.

Renting & subscribing

Obviously, this option still costs money. However, it is a way of consuming that means less strain on the planet (sharing is caring) and it can help you avoid expensive purchases you only use once. If you have a thing for trends, subscriptions are a great way of exploring trends without having to expand your closet.

Use (all of) what you own

Most of the time we own a lot of clothes that we barely know exist. It is said that we wear 20 percent of the clothes we own for 80 percent of the time. Just by doing a dig through your piles of clothing you can find an old favorite that you forgot about. It’s like finding money in your pocket you didn’t know you put there!

Start getting creative with what you own. Try using and combining items in a way you never did before, dress up casual items, dress down fancier ones, and add an accessory to elevate a look. With just a few clothing items you can come a long way when combining wisely!

Conscious christmas gifting guide

joanna-kosinska-414555-unsplashChristmas can be an incredibly busy and stressful time of year, especially if you are fed up with overconsumption and consumer culture. There are ways of making small changes for the better though. One field for improvement is the holiday gifts. There are different “levels” of conscious consumption in my book, below you can read about them.

The optimal choice is to not give anything. At least not material. Great things you can gift people that are not material:

  • donate in their name
  • gift card for service they use or need (like Spotify, Netflix, maybe some clothing subscription?)
  • gift them time to do something with you. Maybe you are a great chef? Well why don’t you gift them a 3-course dinner at your place. They love hiking? Plan a weekend hike to do together!
  • gift an experience. They want to learn pottery? How about you give them a class for x-mas! Want to learn a language? Sign them up for classes or buy a subscription to Babbel!

If you still feel that you want to gift something physical, try to make something yourself. A lot of times it is more appreciated, since it requires time and love. One year I made my grandma a knitted headband for winter. She cried for like 20 minutes because she was so happy for it. And I made a felt Ipad case for my dad one year, he still uses it to protect the screen!

What if you want to git something physical and you suck at any kind of crafts or similar? Well then I say give stuff that is sustainable and that they actually need. Some ideas for this is:

  • Bees wrap – a really practical way of wrapping food that eliminates plastic wrap
  • Reusable bottle – because we all know the problem of plastic bottles, don’t we?
  • Bamboo utensils – for when they are out on the run and need to eat.
  • Produce bags – very handy for grocery shopping, and we all need to buy food!
  • Sustainable underwear – you always need new underwear…
  • Garment care – e.g. pimp stone for clothes pilling, clothing brush, clothes mists.
  • Edible treats – such as homemade granola, truffles, bread mix, sourdough, kombucha starter.

 

 

My biggest challenges with sustainable fashion

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I am still quite new to the concept of sustainable shopping and conscious closets. Only about a year ago I started to learn more about this topic and more recently changing my own habits. Changing ones habits from being slightly shopaholic and always having new clothes to a more slow lifestyle is hard in itself. Trying to cultivate a sustainable closet comes with additional challenges. Since the world is mainly built on fast fashion and unethical business practices, finding sustainable options can be hard, time consuming and, let’s not forget, expensive compared to regular shopping.

Top challenges

So what are really the main challenges I face when trying to switch over to a more sustainable and ethical shopping habit?

Finding clothing I like

I can be quite picky with style and I tend to like a more expensive and elegant style. With sustainable fashion I feel like a lot of things are either boring and generic, as in all is made super minimalistic in black and white or that everyone is wearing the same Everlane pants, or colorful ethnic fabrics that are just not me. Honestly, I don’t really get the Everlane thing, they are a bit to everyday and plain for my taste, even if I do like some styles. Also they do not really have sustainable fabrics or processes which I would prefer. Also, I do not really feel comfortable in colors, especially when combined with crazy prints. So I tend to feel a bit lost in the middle at times. I have managed to find some brands I like, but they are few.

Finding materials I like

When I happen to stumble onto brands or garments I like, I get disappointed 95% of the time because of material mixes or poly. In my opinion you are not a sustainable brand if you mix in plastic at every chance you get. Sure, there are times when it makes sense, like in socks that would break very quickly without the add in. But in a woolen coat I really do not see the big point in adding synthetics. Synthetics are made from non renewable resources and should not be overused just because it’s cheap. They also make  it impossible to recycle. The fabric recycling techniques available today cannot handle material mixes, only 100% fabrics.

Finding things that are accessible

Taking a normal shopping trip to town or the mall is really not a feasible way of shopping ethically and sustainably. The majority of brick and mortar stores are big brand and fast fashion with bad materials, bad quality and that is way too trend sensitive. So when shopping for sustainable brands you are often dependant on online shopping. I like to shop online, but since smaller brands often do not have the opportunity to offer free shipping and returns it makes it a bit risky to order when you are not sure about sizing.

Finding things that are within budget

Let’s be honest, ethically produced or sustainably made clothing is not cheap. Quality materials are more expensive than polyester and having a fair supply chain where people are being payed fair wages means more expensive end prices. I have a quite high budget and have in the later years mostly shopped in the bridge or affordable luxury category. So it is not as much of a stretch for me to be able to afford sustainable items. However, it is still very expensive especially when looking for high quality materials like cashmere and silk that can be bought for 100€ at H&M. The sustainable ditto is more towards 500€, so the difference is still noticeable.

When it comes to sustainable fashion I have come to terms with the fact that you can’t always tick all boxes. Buying something you really like, with good quality that will last a long time, that is also sustainable and ethical is like finding a four leafed clover, doable but hard. You have to compromise a bit sometimes and go with the best option available. For me, material is one of the criteria I do not like to compromise, for others it might be the ethical production. Whatever are your boxes to be ticked just remember that perfection shouldn’t stand in the way of good.

How you can make your closet more sustainable even if you shop fast fashion

henry-co-573432-unsplashFast fashion and sustainable fashion are somewhat opposites within the fashion industry. However, a lot of people feel they cannot afford buying sustainable fashion or that the style of these brands don’t fit them. So how can you shop sustainable when you shop at fast fashion high street brands?

Well, it all comes down to how much you shop and of what quality. The absolute best thing is to refuse fast fashion all together, with the second best being reduce.

If you love a fast fashion store and you feel you cannot live without it, you don’t have to have to give it up completely. There are ways to minimize your impact that do not include changing your entire closet or only buying ethical brands.

How to have a conscious closet

Buy less

The first thing to do is to refuse and reduce. That means buying less in general and try to avoid things that are just trendy items that will be used once. The goal should be to build a long lasting closet that represents your personal style. If possible, try to see if you can find the item second hand first. There are so many people who wear something for a week and then sell it online or hand it in to a consignment store. So that should always be a first option.

Use what you have

I believe the best way of avoiding unnecessary consumption is to shop your own closet. Most people have a full closet, while still feeling like they have nothing to wear. Take some time to look around to see what you really own, you might find some forgotten favorites that could need some new love. A great way of rediscovering ones closet is to do a challenge, maybe a 10×10 or a capsule closet where you are forced to be more creative with what you already own?

Take care of what you own

By taking care of what you own it will last longer. Make an effort to follow the washing instructions, to not wash or dry more than necessary and to mend things that break instead of discarding. When you take care of what you own, the need for constantly buying new is not as noticeable since you have a full closet of nice looking clothes.

Sell or give away the things you no longer want or use

If you really feel that an item is not for you, then get rid of it. We should not have things that make us feel bad or doesn’t serve a real purpose. When you actually decide to get rid of something, sell it or give away to someone you know would like it. There are issues with donating and recycling clothing so I would try to avoid that if I do not know exactly where the clothes will end up. There are several great ways you can sell clothes online today, everything from eBay to depop, Facebook or the old regular flea market.

Repurpose that which is no longer wearable

If you have a dress of which you no longer like the top, maybe you can turn it into a skirt? A pair of jeans can be cropped off for a new trendy fringed crop length or simply turned into a pari of shorts or a skirt. If all else fails, make something completely new out of it. An old bed sheet can be turned into several small handkerchiefs (perfect for cold season!) and an old towel can be turned into reusable face pads. There are several ways of using old fabric for new things.

Have you made the move to shop sustainably? Or do you still have a love affair with H&M?

 

The 5 R’s of sustainable living

When it comes to minimizing your impact on the planet, a lot of people feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. A simple way to start thinking more about ones’ behavior and how one consumes. Both in terms of food (food waste is a big problem, in Sweden 45 kg of food per person is thrown away every year), clothing, services and packaging (I’m thinking of you plastic wrap!). Some basically, one of the best ways to reduce ones impact is to think one step further and to avoid getting unnecessary stuff, and to use that which you already own.

This is where the 5 R’s come in. 5 basic guidelines for sustainable living.

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The 5 R’s

Refuse

things that do not serve you in any way, as well as things that do not serve the planet and you don’t have a need for. Refuse unnecessary materials like plastic straws, plastic cup lids, plastic bags. Also, say no to receipts if you have the opportunity.

Reduce

your consumption. It is inevitable to buy stuff, but reducing your consumption will not only help the planet, but also your personal finances.

Reuse

the things you already own. Have a dress you love, wear it! Buy a tote bag to use instead of plastic bags. Buy or make your own produce bags for food shopping.

Repurpose

things that no longer serve their purpose. Empty glass jars can be used as food containers or made into candle light holders.

Recycle

that which you cannot repurpose or reuse.

The first step towards a more sustainable closet: detoxing your shopping habits

 

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Ready to switch shopping for another hobby? Maybe learn a language?

Having a sustainable closet is not only about the actual clothes and the materials they are made with, it’s equally about the spending habits and behavior surrounding the purchasing of the products. Continuing with the spending habits and buying new clothing each and every week, but doing so ethically, is like running to lose weight while still overeating junk food, slightly better, but won’t make a big of a difference.

So what can you do when you have no clue about what to do to minimize the impact of you shopping or closet habits?

Stop going to stores

Removing yourself from any situation where shopping is on the table is the easiest way of stopping the spending habit. Just like an alcoholic doesn’t go to a bar on his first week sober, the shopaholic shouldn’t go to a store. Avoid all places where you can shop, this means both physical and online stores. So try avoiding the mall, shopping runs with friends and casually surfing net-a-porter or Asos. In addition, unsubscribe from newsletters from brands and online stores that drive you to buy more.

Find a hobby to fill your life with

A lot of people see shopping as a hobby or a fun activity to do with friends and family (or alone). No matter if you see shopping as a social activity or not, if you want a sustainable shopping habit you need to stop seeing it as a hobby. Find something more rewarding and worthwhile to do with your free time. Learn a new skill or language, get creative and paint, sing or take a pottery class, start a sport or just spend more quality time with your loved ones. The lack of shopping will not be as noticeable when you have other activities to fill your schedule with.

Give yourself something to look forward to

If you have a hard time motivating yourself, try giving yourself a reward you can look forward to. Maybe you have been wanting to go on a trip or to buy a really nice, expensive bag. Use that as a way of motivating yourself. Set a goal that after 3 months or 6 months you can buy/do that which you would like, if you manage to avoid shopping mindlessly. By staying away from your unhealthy shopping habit, you will also be able to save some money that can go towards that reward.

Avoid impulse shopping

If you find something you feel like you really need (or even really really want), wait for a few weeks or a few days depending on the price and item. Most of the time it is just a want that passes quite fast. Always let the decision rest for a while to make sure it’s just not a passing feeling or you are shopping to feel better or because you are bored.

Try a shopping ban

Quitting cold turkey is one of the most effective ways of ending addiction. Same goes with shopping. If you feel you have a real problem with shopping, you probably have to give it up completely for a while until you can handle it again. Try a shopping ban for 3 months, 6 months or even a year. If that is too much 1 month is better than nothing, but it is about challenging yourself, a shopping ban is not easy for someone who likes shopping. Just make sure you have your rules set out before, what is allowed and what is not.

Don’t do it all at once

Don’t get rid of all you stuff to replace it with sustainable or ethical alternatives. Buying new is never sustainable and this is not a haul for your YouTube, this is a life change, let time do the work. When your white t-shirt is no longer white enough for you to comfortably wear it, repurpose or recycle and then replace with one in organic cotton or Tencel, if you jeans tear, try to see if there is any way you (or anyone else) can fix them and if not, go for a new pair of sustainable or second hand denims. So take it easy and use that which is already in your possession and make the most of it. Realize that you are enough and you don’t need to follow the latest trends to enjoy life and to be liked.

Quitting something that is so addictive and ingrained in our culture is not easy. If you follow the tips it will be slightly easier though. You might actually realize after a while that you do not miss it that much or at least that you are okay without it. Life really is about more than the material stuff, maybe you will notice.