Becoming a Conscious Consumer
What kind of consumer are you? This is a question I have asked myself and something I try to be conscious of. In this time of fast-fashion and mass chain stores selling clothing at low prices it's easy to get swept up in trends and not think about how our involvement in consumerism matters on a global scale. However we have the ability to make small choices that can make a positive impact in the world we live in, and your closet is one place to start.
Tom's Shoes pictured above. Photographed by Bliss Katherine.
Here are a few ways I am trying to be a better consumer...
Whenever I purchase some new I try to give away the same amount of items to my sisters, friends, or sell or trade them at a second hand store. That way I can keep roughly the same amount of clothes in my closet at all times to keep things minimal and organized (and not over consume). In Toronto I like the resale store Common Sort, in Santa Monica I like The Closet Trading Co. My girlfriends and I trade clothes all the time, and I think theres something special about getting a piece from someone I love, knowing it already has this cool story behind it.
Do Some Research
I can't say I don't love a bargain or cute top from Zara, and my wardrobe isn't perfectly eco-friendly, but I think it's important to have a conscious awareness and do your best. The garments sold at most chain stores are made in factories in China and 3rd world countries where the employees (generally speaking) do not have fair working conditions, then they are shipped to wholesale companies, then they sell to the giant retail stores. The garments are usually made with processes and materials that are harmful to the environment and then even if they are super cute they fall apart after a few washes and are thrown away, and thus the cycle of fast fashion consumerism continues.
Shop with local & ethical brands, shop consignment, and think quality over quantity
If you can, seek out local designers, ethical/sustainable brands and/or buy second hand to reuse and recycle. I love finding vintage pieces especially if its something that has been designed well, because it is a true testament to how well it was sewn, and that the design has stood the test of time. Sometimes local brands can be more expensive however the quality lasts longer so I look at it as investing in a piece I will have for many years to come. And on that note I try to avoid overly trendy pieces (save for accessories or a couple of fun trendy pieces) and aim to build a wardrobe that is timeless and that can one day be passed down to my grandchildren like my grandmother did for me.
Just having an awareness, and asking questions is a good place to start. Beyond your closet...think about the rest of your home and what you consume on a daily basis (like where you eat out - the kind of packaging they use - plastic bags at the grocery store vs bringing your own re-usable ones). Some good questions to ask are - Where was this made? How was it made? Who made it? What is it made of? Is it recyclable? How long will it last? At first this may seem like an annoying extra thing to think about, but when you consider that each little choice you make can have a positive impact on our home - planet earth - you can get a little rewarding sense of positivity every time.