Conscious Consumption 101
Conscious consumption isn’t just about sustainability and ethics: it’s also about responsibility and intention. It means showing an awareness of how your individual consumption impacts both our planet and society at large. That awareness can be expressed in various ways, and will look different for different people, but anyone can be a more conscious consumer, even with limited time or money. Read on for our conscious consumption 101 guide, so you can do your bit to help protect the things that matter most.
Inspiration from the top
Image source: The Sustainable Angle
With climate change dominating every discussion, it’s encouraging to see a growing number of designers making great strides towards fashion sustainability. Innovations in fabric design - recycled wool knits, viscose (wood-pulp) dresses, TENCEL ‘silk’, biosynthetic cereal waste ‘leather’, plastic-free buttons made from leftover pulp, collections made from last season’s prints - prove it’s possible to make every part of your wardrobe more sustainable. We’re seeing a move towards making clothes with a purpose beyond satisfying commercial expectations. That’s something we can all be inspired by.
Buy Less, Wear More
Image source: Hurr
The most sustainable item is the one that’s already in your wardrobe. If we Buy Less, Wear More, we can save on the textiles that end up in landfill each year. You might consider taking a month-long shopping fast (or even a year-long shopping fast - an experience which the author Ann Pratchet shares with Vogue), or at least say goodbye to impulse buys. A less extreme option is to buy nothing new, and instead shop pre-loved fashion or try clothes swaps with friends and family. Consider also subscribing to rental fashion - it’s sustainable, cost-effective, risk-free, and fashionable. We’re in love with HURR’s range of stylish designer pieces, as well as their inspiring curated seasonal edits.
Long Love Your Wardrobe
To be a conscious consumer, it’s super important to properly care for the pieces you already own and look for only high-quality formulations: if you wouldn’t wash with it, then neither should your clothes. Say goodbye to detergents containing fabric-degrading and toxic chemicals (bleach, phosphates, phthalates, SLS), and instead welcome into your life an eco- and wardrobe-friendly detergent like Kair. We use only the gentlest of plant-based surfactants, which won’t blitz the life out of your favourite pieces. That way, your wardrobe can live on in full colour. Another great way to Long Love Your Wardrobe is to repair or repurpose damaged or faded pieces. For clothing alterations and repairs made easy, try the Sojo App, which will do all the needlework for you if you’re not too into sewing.
Think before you buy
Image source: Riley Studio
Conscious consumption doesn’t mean never buying new again, but supplementing existing pieces thoughtfully. Look for ethical and sustainable credentials (such as FSC-certified cardboard or B Corp Certification), as well as the use of natural and recycled or recyclable materials, such as Riley Studio’s recycled cashmere. It’s also important to reassess where you buy your clothes from. That doesn’t just mean avoiding fast-fashion brands, but seeking out brands which are actively inspiring social change and equality, such as Fund Jumpers, with their incredible mission to help fight childhood hunger in the world’s very poorest countries. For a more considered, thoughtful wardrobe, buy well-made, high-quality investment staples which you’ll wear at least 30 times, and which will live on and on. Classics pieces which don’t go out of style, such as With Nothing Underneath’s timeless shirt collection, are a great place to start.
Shopping sustainably, responsibly and with intention is one of the simplest yet most important ways to consume more consciously and help protect the planet. The key is to both love what you already have and be thoughtful about what you choose to buy next, and to take inspiration from forward-thinking designers and their sustainable innovations.
Cover image by Vogue