It’s that time of year. January 1st. New year, new you. You’ve made a few resolutions, this year you’re going to do better, shop better, you’re going to be a conscious consumer.
But what does that really mean? What are you supposed to do? The 9-steps below are designed for the consciously-curious, but let’s start with our mantra.
You are making steps to be a better consumer, if you strive for perfect, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Which leads me to our first point.
Don’t Make Any Resolutions
It may sound counter-intuitive, but don’t make any resolutions especially absolute ones, resolutions are bullshit, resolutions just set you up for failure. Your goal is here is to make changes that you can manage. Over-promise yourself to this and you’re one wine fueled online binge-shopping trip away from dropping off the conscious-wagon.
Put Down the Marie Kondo
I’ve noticed there’s a lot of cross-over between the conscious and eco-ethical shopping movements and minimalism, but they’re not the same thing, they belong to different value systems. While I can understand the life-changing magic in hoarder-recovery, getting rid of everything you own to streamline your life might feel good, but it’s not the most eco option and donating clothes can be problematic for a litany of reasons (worthy of another post). Use what you have.
Create Your Own Hierarchy
You may have seen a version of this pyramid before, there’s a few versions floating around, this is mine. First I make do with what I have (see “Shop Your Closet”) this includes mending before buying new, but I’ll readily admit I could improve my skills here, instead I have an ever-growing pile to take to the tailors.
Next I rent or borrow. This really happens primarily for special occasions, I had a Rent the Runway Unlimited account for some time, when I had enough cause to look really fabulous on the regular (sigh #worksinfashion) but now I’m a regular person, I only use it for special occasions.
Next I thrift, sometimes the hands dirty way, and sometimes it’s the beautifully curated via Etsy way. Poshmark is a staple at this tier as well. When I’m on a budget, this is the primary way I shop.
Lastly, I buy new, and within this tier, there’s some sub tiers, which is where my values come into play.
Bonus: I’ll share a blank template via IG stories for you to create your own.
Choose Your Values
Conscious shopping means many things to many people and to try and fight every shopping battle out there, all at once, can be really overwhelming. I really recommend focusing on 1-2 values at a time and prioritizing what matters to you the most. At least to begin with.
My conscious shopping gateway drug was indie designers manufacturing domestically. Initially I focused my shopping habits on small businesses, as I went further into this journey I focused more and more on sustainable fabrics, looking for plant based options primarily (linen, organic, hemp and synthetics like tencel), to be honest that has become more of a priority to me than simply focusing on domestically made products.
The point is, find what matters to you, and focus on that value first, add in layers as you go on your journey.
Shop Your Closet
This is where things get fun. If you’re anything like me, a recovering, swear-to-god, shopaholic, the chances are you have everything you need in your closet already, you just need to awaken your stylish imagination. Start a Pinterest board, look out for ensembles that motivate you sartorially and then correlate those things with your own closet. Sometimes you just need some inspiration to create whole new outfits from what you already own.
Learn Your Labels
This is maybe an advanced step, but worth understanding and goes hand in hand with fulfilling your value system from above. I’ve become the weirdo in the store that turns a garment inside out to learn more about it. A label is a revealing thing, and you’ll need to be armed with some advance knowledge. A label will tell you:
- Where it was made
- The fabric content
- How to take care of it (cold wash in the machine is best!)
In 2019 this doesn’t mean spending days trawling through Goodwill racks or going through musty boxes at estate sales (though all this can be so fun!) there are so many people who already do this for you. Sure, you’ll need to pay a premium for their hard work, but it’s worth it for the eco-ethical treasures they purvey. Etsy is a great resource for this, find a hand-full of vintage sellers that fit your style and save them in your favourites for when that shopping urge kicks in.
Satisfy with Second-hand
This has a different section to thrifting, because it’s not the same, but we now live in a world with resale apps. Sometimes it feels like cheating, a way to shop the same brands you’ve sworn off because they don’t fit the values you now live by. I keep a list of things that I’m waiting to show up on Poshmark that I search for regularly (not just from mainstream brands but from conscious ones too!). Sure, you don’t get the instant gratification of ordering something immediately, but there’s some excitement in the hunt also.
Address Your Triggers
Ok, let’s get a little deep here. Shopping is an emotional beast for many of us, for me, this is my biggest obstacle in being a conscious consumer. If I just buy this dress I will be the best version of myself, and this version of myself will vastly improve everything. Social media can be really problematic in this regard, as it provokes the longing and the insecurity.
Clean up who you follow, remove anyone who triggers you to move away from the values you have defined for yourself, or has you clicking down a retail black hole.
Good luck, ultimately we’re just making shopping an adventure, and adventure is fun. Any question? Comment below or grab us on Instagram?