I’ll be honest, it wasn’t until about a year or so ago that the thought of becoming a more conscious consumer even crossed my mind.  I was inspired to learn more and sought out information on how I could make a difference with my own shopping habits.  Here are my tried and true ways to shop more consciously:

1. Shop Eco-Conscious Brands – Sustainable fashion is on the rise and brands/retailers large and small are beginning to pay attention…which is great news!  They’re recognizing consumers like us are opting to spend our money on garments that keep in mind our love of the planet and it’s people.  While eco-conscious clothing is typically more expensive, it also tends to last a lot longer due to the higher quality of textiles and manufacturing involved.  Just be sure to educate yourself on a brand and it’s transparency before you buy.

2. Buy Less – Americans consume nearly 20 billion garments a year. That breaks down to about 68 pieces of clothing and 7 pairs of shoes per person annually. We’re adding at least one piece to our wardrobe per week. Of course bringing this many garments into our wardrobe, means we need to make some right? According to the EPA, Americans throw away an estimated 10lbs of garments per year.  Of that, only about 15% is recovered for reuse and recycling. Just what our planet needs, huh?  The thought of buying less can be a scary thought for some, I know it was for me! As a former fashion blogger, I thought there was no way I would ever cut down on my spending habits. I loved shopping and how was I supposed to stay current and stylish?  After giving this approach a try myself, I’m proud to report IT IS POSSIBLE, I promise!  Not only is shopping more enjoyable (and less overwhelming!) but my style has also become more refined and polished.

3. Buy Secondhand – There’s that age-old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.  And it’s so true!  There are so many gems out there just waiting to be found.  Whether it be a local thrift store or online consignment shop, there is no shortage of good quality (sometimes never-been-worn) pieces waiting for a new home.  The important thing to remember when shopping secondhand is to go in with an action plan. If you’re looking for black booties, there is no need to check out the handbag selection. The lower prices and not knowing what surprises you might find can be awfully tempting, but go in with a strategy and you’ll stay the course!

4. Go for Quality over Quantity – I had always lived with the mindset of the more clothes I had, the more stylish I could be. This mindset resulted in a TON of impulse and typically cheaper purchases. “Oh wow, this sweater from Forever21 is only 17 bucks! Why wouldn’t I get it?!”  Now with more and more information available regarding the fast fashion industry and secondhand stores receiving more donations than they can handle, I can no longer turn a blind eye and give into the deal.  It’s simply not worth the negative impact my purchase could have.  When you choose quality over quantity, you will not only need to replace your clothes less often, but higher quality clothing tends to look and feel better too!

5. Shop Your Closet – The best part about this tip is you don’t even need to leave your house or hop online to shop!  Going in with a fresh mindset and some good ol’ fashion creativity, “shopping” your closet can bring forgotten pieces to life with completely new outfits!  Another way to take advantage of pieces you already own is getting your garments tailored!  Whether you find a piece you love but it doesn’t fit quite right or you are holding on to an evening gown you love but do not see yourself wearing again, consider taking these pieces to your local tailor to get that perfect fit or transfer that gown into a more wearable cocktail dress!

6. B.Y.O.B. – (Bring your own bag!) Those reusable bags you’ve been accumulating are not just for your groceries! Over 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year worldwide (Earth Policy Institute). Of those, Americans use and throw away 100 billion plastic bags annually, taking anywhere between 20 and 500 years to degrade. Requiring more material per bag in the manufacturing process, paper bags are not much better either. Bottom line: Reusable bags are the way to go. I know I am guilty of forgetting mine from time to time, but I find putting a couple near my entryway and a few in the car help set me up for success!

A key point I wanted to communicate is that you do not necessarily need to purchase eco-conscious clothing in order to be a more ethical and conscious consumer. While buying from ethical companies is a great goal to have, buying less, repurposing what you have and buying for quality are all ways you can take some major strides in making a positive difference in this world. The coolest part? You can start now!