Top 9 Tips to Shop Sustainably and Reduce Your Environmental Impact
As the saying goes, everything is connected. Every action we take has an impact on the world around us, and shopping is no exception. The clothes we buy, the food we eat and even the beauty products we use all have a ripple effect. To shop more sustainably and reduce your environmental impact, you need to understand how your actions as a consumer can have such an effect. In today’s fast-paced world of online shopping it can be easy to overlook the impact your purchases will have on both people and planet. However, by making deliberate choices about what you buy, where you buy it from, how much you spend on individual items as well as how often you shop – you can significantly reduce your environmental impact when it comes to shopping.
Our Top 9 ways to be more Sustainable
- Research Before You Buy
- Pay Attention to Labelling
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
- Be selective with the things you buy
- Avoid Fast Fashion and Over-packaging
- Shop Second Hand
- Reuse What You Already Own
- Only Buy What You Need
- Disposal is not the end of life for clothes
1. Research Before You Buy
Before you even make it to the shops, there are many ways to reduce your environmental impact - start with some research. Look at the materials used in your clothes, the ethical and environmental impact of the food you eat and the ingredients in your beauty products. This will help you understand what impact each purchase will have and how much impact it will have on the environment. You’ll be better placed to make informed decisions about what you buy and how often. This will enable you to make better choices, reducing your environmental impact as a consumer.
2. Pay Attention to Labelling
Labels are a great place to start when understanding the impact of your purchases. Look out for the material composition of your clothing; recycled materials and organic cotton are the best sustainable materials to use. Similarly, ethical brands include certifications on their labelling to showcase their garments are truly sustainable and eco-friendly. For example, at Unordinary Apparel we include our 'Fair Wear' certification which ensures garment workers are treated and paid fairly. Try avoid products with superfluous or unnecessary packaging, or where the packaging is difficult to recycle or reuse. Many people also choose to buy organic food as this reduces their environmental impact. In addition, choose Fair Trade products as this supports both farmers and their communities.
3. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Try to reduce your waste where possible. When buying clothes, look for items that last longer and are designed to be repaired and re-worn. When buying food, try to buy in bulk, making use of reusable containers and opting for foods that can be kept longer. In terms of beauty products, consider how long they last and look for refill and re-usable containers. When disposing of your products, try to keep them out of the landfill where possible. Instead, look to recycle and re-purpose materials wherever possible. For example, you can recycle old clothing to reduce its impact on the environment. You can also compost beauty products and household items to reduce their impact on the environment. Where possible, look for recycled or recyclable packaging. This will help reduce the amount of waste your purchases create.
4. Be selective with the things you buy
While it is important to reduce your waste and recycle as much as possible, it is also important to be selective about the things you buy. This means only purchasing items that are necessary and not being too quick to replace items you already own. This can be applied to many areas of life, but is particularly relevant when shopping. If you are purchasing a new item, ask yourself if you really need it, and if there isn’t something in your home that could be repurposed for the same purpose. If you must buy new, try to select items that are long lasting and have as low an environmental impact as possible. This will enable you to reduce the number of times you need to shop, reducing your environmental impact as a consumer.
5. Avoid Fast Fashion and Over-packaging
Fast fashion is a growing problem that has seen millions of tonnes of textile waste produced annually. It also has a significant impact on the environment. While there are many other issues with fast fashion, one of the biggest is the reliance on synthetic fibres, which are often made with toxic substances and difficult to recycle. Slow fashion can be a sustainable alternative. In relation to over-packaging, many products come wrapped in excessive amounts of plastic. This is unnecessary and only adds to the amount of waste in our environment. You can avoid unnecessary plastic packaging by selecting products that come without. At Unordinary Apparel, our product packaging is 100% biodegradable, acting to both preserve your garment and the environment.
6. Shop Second Hand
When choosing to shop second hand, you can significantly reduce the amount of waste you generate as well as lowering your environmental impact. You can find second hand items almost anywhere. Look for second hand shops, online swap meets, online second hand websites or even at your local car boot sale. You can also sell your old, unwanted items to make them available for someone else to enjoy. This will reduce your environmental impact by reducing the amount of waste you create, as well as supporting your local economy.
7. Reuse What You Already Own
Before you go out and buy something new, take a moment to consider if you already own something that could be repurposed for the same purpose. If you have a bag you don’t use, reuse it as a book bag. If you have old clothes that are still in good condition, consider re-wearing them or repurposing them as cleaning rags. When you re-use items you already own, you significantly reduce the amount of waste you generate, as well as lowering your environmental impact.
8. Only Buy What You Need
Before you buy something, ask yourself if you really need it and if there isn’t something else out there that would better suit your needs. This can be applied to both retail shopping and online shopping. When you only buy what you need, you reduce your environmental impact by lowering the amount of waste you generate as well as reducing the amount you spend.
9. Disposal is not the end of life for clothes
Many people believe that old clothes should be thrown away when they are no longer wearable, but this is not true. In fact, there are many ways you can repurpose clothes that are no longer wearable, including repurposing them. Repurposing old clothes is an easy way to reduce your environmental impact and make the world a cleaner place. You can also sell old clothes online to recoup some of the money you spent, or donate them to a local charity. This way, old clothes can be reused and enjoyed by others.
When you shop sustainably, you are not only reducing your own environmental impact, but you are also making a positive difference to future generations and the planet as a whole. By being selective with your purchases and paying attention to the materials used, you can reduce your impact by up to 80%. This will not only lower your environmental impact, but it will save you money too.