Sustainability Advocates Share What They Do to Shop Ethically So You Can Too

Shop sustainably

With the end-of-year sale season just around the corner, the temptation to spend big and buy everything on your wishlist is oh-so-real. And while purchasing coveted items at a discount is seriously appealing there can be a clash between splashing out and living sustainably.

So, how can you engage in shopping ethically while still enjoying fashion and rare finds? We spoke with two sustainability experts to find out.

Pre-Research Your Purchases and Shop With Intention

“The first key is to understand the power we have as shoppers, the psychological effect shopping has on us, and then ensuring each thing we buy has some pre-thought and research behind it,” Celeste Tesoriero, Director of sustainability consultancy firm Sonzai Studios tells The Latch.

Known as the casino effect, sales and special offers flood our brains with dopamine and make us terrified to miss out on special offers, even when they’re things we might not need, want or afford (hello, $400 running shoes).

Related: Green Friday’s Co-Founder Told Us How He’s Taking a Stand Against Mass Consumption

Related: What Is Green Friday, and How Can You Get Involved?

Instead of getting caught up in buying for the sake of it come sale time, Tesoriero suggests thinking about your needs well in advance, looking into a brand’s sustainability credentials, where garments are made, staff treatment and factory worker wages, and reviews of garment quality. This might seem like a huge outlay of time in the beginning, but you’ll quickly amass a collection of brands you know and trust.

“Give your purchases the same amount of research as if you were buying a car. You wouldn’t just walk onto a parking lot and buy the first car you see because it’s on sale; you’d research the model, the year, read reviews, think about what you need it for, and insurance costs. If you do this for everything you buy you’ll stop yourself buying things you regret and become really empowered with your decisions,” she says.

“If we understand every single one of our purchases as voting for the kind of world we want to live in we can not only buy beautiful things but also feel good about the purchases.”

Think Quality, Not Quantity

Even before launching Pre-Loved Closet, a curated resale site for designer labels, Lisa Anderson believed in buying investment pieces that stand the test of time over seasonal trends.

“I have a pair of Chanel sandals I bought almost six years ago and I still wear them all the time,” Anderson tells The Latch. “They were an expensive purchase but I saved up and bought them on a holiday and every time I wear them they remind me of that.”

Working with some of the most stylish women in Australia like Georgia Fowler, Nadia Fairfax and Rozalia Russian to resell designer pieces from their wardrobes, Anderson says shopping should be less about that Instagram urge to constantly stay ahead of the trend and more about finding pieces that are made with quality and transcend a single season.

“Shopping for one moment or one season is fundamentally unsustainable,” she says, adding, “shifting your mindset to finding those pieces that instinctively speak to you makes shopping a much more fulfilling and exciting experience.”

In addition to curated wardrobe edits, PLC also curates its pieces around events so that you can shop handbags, shoes, accessories and clothes for that upcoming holiday or wedding instead of simply scrolling for the sake of it.

Buy Local and Buy Small

Having previously run an independent fashion label, Tesoriero says “every sale really matters” to small businesses who operate transparently and at a much more sustainable level than mega-manufacturers of fast fashion like Shein and Pretty Little Thing, who have come under fire for underpaying and overworking their garment makers.

“With big businesses, the decisions are bottom-lined focussed, which means they most likely aren’t doing the right thing by the people making the items or the planet. So when you buy these items you’re not only voting for behaviours that don’t align with your values, but you often feel bad about it afterward,” she says.

Instead, invest your money in designs made by small and independent labels, as well as labels that transparently share their sustainability credentials and celebrate doing things the right way.

Buy Pre-Loved

When nothing but that designer piece will do, save yourself some coin and do landfill a favour by buying resale.

Sites like Pre-Loved Closet, depop, Vestiaire and The RealReal are all havens for discounted pre-worn designer wares (with detailed information on the quality and signs of wear) and earlier this year, eBay launched its ‘Imperfects’ platform for designer items with minor flaws that would previously have gone into landfill (and save you around 60% of the standard retail price).

Aside from saving money, something Anderson says PLC’s loyal fanbase love, “our customers also really connect with our sustainability ethos. They want to shop more mindfully and buying quality pre-loved pieces allows them to do that in a way that’s much more accessible than it used to be.”

Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Low-rise jeans and trucker caps may be back in trend, but that doesn’t mean the style suits everyone or that we all feel good in them. Instead of rushing out to buy the latest forecast piece, Anderson recommends taking the time to build a capsule wardrobe made up of high-quality pieces that you feel great in and that can be worn in a handful of interchangeable ways.

“Figuring out what looks good on you and what you feel good in is half the battle, but once you find those go-to styles and those designers that you know you feel great in, the experience of shopping completely changes,” Anderson says.

“You end up with less clothing overall but clothing that you wear more often, which saves money and is so much better for the environment.”

Want to shop more consciously? The Latch has partnered with Green Friday ahead of their four-day sales event, running just before the big shopping dates of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a challenge to consumers and organisations to do better. They only showcase brands that meet their sustainability framework and direct consumers to products they need that cause the least impact on the planet through purchasing. You can read more stories about Green Friday here.

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