By Tovah Jackson
You’re here because you’ve noticed that sustainable fashion pieces can be really expensive. There’s no denying it, but sustainable items are justified in their price tags. If you want to learn about why that is, read this. Shopping sustainably is hard. It takes thought, effort, time, and a lot of consideration. As consumers, we aren’t used to that. Shopping is one of those tedious tasks we add to our busy schedules. That mentality is a symptom of our global, capitalist marketplace. We’re used to having whatever we want, whenever, and at the lowest possible price. While there isn’t much we can do to change such deeply embedded global structures, we do have the power to change our own philosophy on shopping, or even create a philosophy and moral code around shopping. Here are three things to consider that will help you shop sustainably in a way that won’t break the bank.
1. Change your philosophy on shopping, or create one where there wasn’t one before
Yes, purchasing consciously takes effort, and it should. Sustainable shopping has to be perceived as a revolutionary effort. It’s revolutionary in the sense that we are restructuring how we think about how we spend our money. It shouldn’t be thoughtless. There is too much at stake, such as the people and their conditions involved in making a garment, the environment, and the toxic materials and emissions used to make a garment. What does conscious purchasing look like? With help from the Status Gaea business ethos, here is an easy place to start:
ORGANIC-GOTS Certified Organic and USDA Organic products are third-party vetted and verified to ensure that the entire process (from seed to garment, or plant to face oil) is farmed organically and created in a safe manner for both people and the planet.
NATURAL All-natural products are made with materials that are gentle on your body and can biodegrade at the end of their life. Think organic cotton, linen, wool, hemp, leather, and straw. It’s easy to keep your body and the planet trash-free by choosing naturally grown and harvested materials, natural and non-toxic dyes, or low-impact production practices.
LOW-WASTE Low-waste products help keep our planet plastic-free by taking things that might otherwise have been trash and turning them into cool new stuff. Choosing recycled, repurposed, upcycled, and deadstock materials mean minimizing your footprint on the planet and doing your part to keep our oceans alive.
CRUELTY-FREE Vegan products use ingredients that come from plants and are never tested on animals. Oh, and we don’t promote vegan products made predominantly from petroleum-based leather, because at the end of the day, climate change isn’t nice to animals either.
LOCALLY MADE These brands design, produce, and ship all products within a 100-mile radius. This means that they reduce their carbon footprint by not shipping the product all over the world before it even ships to you, and it supports a thriving local economy where the designer lives. Bonus points if it’s local to you, too!
ARTISANAL Handcrafted items that tell a story & connect us to the humans who make our clothing. Made with traditional techniques and skills that require intricate training, these pieces are unique in nature. Bring a piece of culture into your life while supporting the artisans who are preserving their way of life.
FAIR LABOR Fair Trade certified products are third-party verified to provide ethical working conditions and opportunities for marginalized producers. From farmer to maker, the workers involved in creating these pieces are empowered to make decisions to benefit their business and promote sustainability. We also promote non-certified fair labor practices which prioritize the wellbeing of workers.
WOMEN-OWNED Women make 81 cents per the dollar that men make. Help close the gender pay gap by supporting women-owned businesses.
BIPOC-OWNED Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Arab, and other people of color face discrimination in the workplace all across the US. Help spread the wealth to communities of color by buying from BIPOC-owned businesses.
If you apply even one of these requirements when you shop, it will make a difference. Start small, and it just may snowball from there.
2. Collect classic staple items
Another mental shift you can make about purchasing is recognizing the fact that if you replaced your monthly fast fashion shopping hauls with once-a-year, sustainable options, you would potentially be spending the same amount of money on clothes per year. The sheer amount of throw-away items packing our closets is unnecessary. Replace those items with classic staples that are sustainable and versatile. You’ll have fewer items, create more creative ways to wear each item, and the items will last longer if they are truly sustainable pieces.
3. Be critical of trends
This is a hot take because you love fashion, and therefore, you love certain trends and the ever-evolving fashion world. Some trends truly are great, and it’s okay to indulge in trends when you love them but consider purchasing styles that seem more classic and long-lasting. If you stick to what is flattering for you, what you like, and what you want to wear, you’ll look more original, and it will also open up more opportunities to shop second-hand for one-of-a-kind items (which also happen to be more sustainable). Trends are how the fashion industry keeps us interested and purchasing more goods. For passing trends, clothing rental is a perfect solution for those trends you are dying to try out. Sustainable fashion and lifestyle, in general, is an imperfect journey for those pursuing it. Start small, you don’t have to drain your bank account, be conscious of the power you have, and learn to enjoy the process.