We'd be lying if we said that sustainable + ethical consumer choices have always been top of mind for us - the truth is that we had never heard the terms, let alone been knowledgeable about the inner workings of the "fast fashion" industry until about halfway into the pandemic. As long time lovers of fashion and shameless shopaholics, we didn't see how we could ever fit into this new "world" of ethical consumer choices until we realized that we had no choice as one cannot exist without the other if we ever want our planet to stand a chance. A few quick stats to illuminate the grave consequences if action is not taken by both individuals + corporations alike:
If no action is taken to reduce fast fashion waste – the industry’s global emissions will likely double by the end of the decade
Fast fashion brands are producing 2x the amount of clothes today as they did in 2000
In the last 15 years, the amount of times that a garment is worn by its owner before being discarded has decreased by 36%
All of these figures were pulled directly from Earth.Org and we encourage you to do your own research
Suffice to say that this can all be very overwhelming - there's a lot to learn + a lot to unlearn and if you're anything like us, you haven't the first clue about where to begin with any of it. Putting the ethics of it all - corporate social responsibility vs. individual consumer choices aside - we like to believe that the best thing you can do is to just start. If your habits are better today than they were yesterday, even if you're just thinking about things that you weren't thinking about before, that's progress + we believe it's better than not beginning at all. That being said, we hope to share some tips, tricks and guidance that's helped us to begin thinking about our consumer choices more & making decisions when we get dressed in the morning that make we feel proud of. We're still learning and figuring it all out as we go - we're open to new perspectives and welcome your resources, tips + recommendations - this guide will be a continuously evolving resource that you can expect to be updated as we become more knowledgeable and well versed on the subject.
Because you've come across this post online - we'll be writing primarily about online avenues but strongly encourage you to explore ethical + sustainable options in your local neighborhood - we'll keep the ones that we know & love up-to-date on the master guide..
Examples of some of our favorite recent outfits that include sustainable style choices:
We're challenging ourselves this year to wear at least one sustainably sourced article of clothing for each outfit, every day
The Details - Tips for Making More Sustainable Style & Consumption Choices:
1. Shop Around What You Already Have On Hand First
One of the biggest threats to our planet is over-consumption - the never-ending trend cycles, the ever-increasing need for "more" and the supply-demand cycles that pump out more clothes than we could ever consume. Before you consider buying anything else, try shopping around what you already have on hand first. As individuals, one of the most powerful things that we can do to combat over-consumption is to not fall victim to the need to constantly buy "new". Instead, consider getting more wear out of your favorite clothing items, find new ways to style them or try re-purposing them entirely by giving them a new life with some alterations. When all else fails, you can always explore the closets of close friends + relatives - as you all know it's one of our favorite places to "shop".
It's also important to note here that textile waste is as big a threat as any to our planet with 92 million tons of waste ending up in landfills each year (Earth.Org). It's better to continue wearing the existing clothes in your closet, even if they are from fast fashion brands, than it is to discard them for the sake of "starting fresh". When all else fails, old clothes can often serve as great rags for cleaning up household spills + messes and are still better off serving any sort of purpose than they will be in a landfill. If you are ready to move on from certain items in your wardrobe, consider giving your clothes a second life by donating them to reputable causes and local shelters around your area.
2. Create Some Ground Rules For Yourself
Whether you respond best to "rules", "intentions", or "challenges", set some guidelines for yourself to aim for as you adjust to new habits. We've included some that we've found to be the most realistic + achievable for our lifestyle:
When purchasing an item, think of at least 10 instances you would wear it and outfits that you would make before checking-out
Getting more use out of our clothing is a vital step to turning this sinking ship around. Shopping for timeless as opposed to trendy pieces is a big part of this as the longevity of classic clothing items are likely to last far beyond only a few seasons. When shopping, try to look at the bigger picture and consider cost-per-wear as the main determinant of your purchasing power (of course, in addition to your budget + spend comfortability). If you're not familiar with the term "cost per wear" consider this example: a $100 top that you wear 10 times would have a $10 cost per wear, while a $40 top that you only wear twice would have a $20 cost per wear - in this example, the $100 top is the better deal because you'd be getting more usage out of it at an overall lower cost per wear.
Quality Over Quantity
On a very similar stride, quality over quantity should always be top of mind when shopping. Your goal should be buying clothing items that will last for years + can withstand the wear & tear of day-to-day life.. Beyond that, you should also be honest with yourself when you're shopping: - don't shy away from asking yourself questions like, "do I REALLY need this shirt in 3 different colors or is there one color that could serve a purpose for multiple outfits?" and "is there an option here that will serve me more in the long term?". While we recognize that quality may often be associated with higher cost, we challenge you to drill down into this logic by setting price limits that you're comfortable spending and seeking quality items that conform to them (and don't be afraid of thrift + vintage stores - more on them below). Some of our most well-made clothing items are our vintage pieces - it's true "they don't make em' like they used to anymore".
Plan in Advance
When shopping, do what you can to plan ahead with as much advanced notice as possible. You're much less likely to rush into a purchase when you have weeks of "keeping an eye out" on your side and have time to weigh your options and sleep on your consumer decisions. This rule applies best when shopping for an event, trip or gift for someone - as soon as it's on your radar, begin your shopping process instead of waiting for the last minute and you'll be shocked by how much better + more practical your purchases become. Plus you may have the added bonus of waiting to purchase when there's an upcoming sale!
Sleep On It
Our silver rule of shopping is that we have to sleep on it before we can check-out. Though there are obvious exceptions when this rule may not apply and mostly applies to online shopping, it has been our saving grace for every instance that we've been able to lean on it. A good night's rest has saved us from making some of the most reckless and downright ugly clothing purchases imaginable. It can be truly remarkable what a fresh pair of eyes and some time away can do for your perception and the more sleep that you can get,, the better you'll feel about the purchases that you do end up saying "yes" to.
If it's not a "Fuck Yes", it's a "No"
And that leaves us with our golden rule, if it's not a "Fuck Yes", it's a "No" [pardon our language]. We learned about this rule when we came across this post a few years back and have been applying it to every facet of our lives since. There's no rule more simple or powerful than saying "no" to the things that don't absolutely excite you and make you want to scream "Fuck yes!" from the nearest rooftop. As corny as it may sound, applying this logic will change your life and completely transform your decision making skills for the better. When applied to shopping + style choices, an item must hit EVERY mark - size, fit, color, style, price, etc. - and make you feel overwhelmed with delight in order to buy it. There should be no consideration, no second thought and if there is, you probably shouldn't be getting it. Employing this ideology into your consumption choices will help you to dramatically cut down on waste and trendy pieces by forcing you into holding higher standards for your purchases - and it'll be the best thing that you can do for yourself + the planet.
3. Reseller Sites & Thrift Stores
With all of that in mind, we recognize that there are plenty of instances when you must expand your wardrobe by shopping around and in these cases we always recommend starting with reseller sites + thrift or vintage stores. Doing so certainly takes more patience and research than your average shopping trip to good ole' Amazon dot com would but the reward is so much sweeter. Aside from the obvious positive impact to our environment by reducing demand for new clothing item and the decrease to textile waste, there are countless advantages of shopping secondhand that you'll directly benefit from as the consumer, namely:
you're typically able to find great options at a discount
you can find unique, discontinued + investment pieces that aren't sold in stores
there's less pressure to keep items in mint condition when you're shopping secondhand so we find that we get more usage out of these items
Our best tip for shopping these sites is to employ the magic of Google lens by:
Use Google to search for an item of interest
2. Find an item that you like - even if it's not your size, the exact style of interest or in your price range. Click on it.
3. Right click on the item's image and click "Search Image with Google"
4. Explore the images + items produced by Google Lens that visually match the item you tried searching for.
5. Be sure to click around - look on both the "images" and "shopping" tabs to explore all options available. Repeat the process as often as needed to find sold-out items, find the name of a style that you like for better research, find better prices, find your sizes, + find different styles to be inspired by. We're not exaggerating when we say we do not purchase ANYTHING online without doing a quick Google Lens search first to check for better prices or options offered and have saved HUNDREDS of dollars shopping this way. This is not sponsored at all, we just truly love + highly recommend utilizing this tactic while online shopping.
List of Recommended Sites for Shopping Secondhand
Not sponsored + in no particular order
BEST FOR DESIGNER PRE-LOVED:
BEST FOR GENERAL SECONDHAND STEALS:
4. Rent Your Clothes
Another great and more ethical option to shopping new + fast fashion is to rent your clothes from clothing rental services. We find that these options serve us best when we need one-off items for certain events or trips but they can be used for any number of reasons and ultimately still helps to decrease individual clothing consumption + textile waste.
Some well-known clothing rental services:
5. Ethical Brands
Last but not least, if you have to shop new and still want to do good for the planet, consider shopping from an ethical fashion brand. We'll be candid - this is the area that we feel the least confident speaking to as it seems that every company has their skeletons in the closet, but we'll share what we can and update this as we learn more. There are many different factors to consider when shopping ethically, such as, where is the clothing sourced from? how are the garment workers treated? what considerations are taken to minimize emissions?, etc. We urge you to do your own research and find the brands that best align with your values and be aware of companies using sustainable language for the sake of profit without proof to back it (better known as "green-washing").
Some sustainable brands to consider:
Part of what putting a little disco in the details of life means to us includes wearing outfits that we feel good in + that do good for the planet. We hope that you'll join us in this journey to better our planet by considering sustainable style choices in your day-to-day life. As part of our goals for 2023, we'll be sharing more of the ways that we're incorporating sustainable style choices in our day to day life, so be sure to look for inspiration on our style guide + social media accounts. We sincerely look forward to hearing from you as you share your own resources, tips + tricks.