While there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, spending your money more thoughtfully and consciously can lead to less consumption, thus less production, and less waste. Here are some tips to try and incorporate to shop a little more sustainably.
Bring your own reusable bag
In Toronto and the GTA you are permitted to bring your own bags while shopping at most stores, this may vary depending on your region and/or province. Whenever possible, bring your own reusable bags or opt for the paper option (if available, like at Value Village) or no bag, if doable.
Donate before you buy
Most second hand/thrift stores have donation centres where you can drop off your gently loved goods to be resold in the store. I always try to bring a bag of old clothes, Knick knacks to donate following the one in one out rule; I can only replace items in my closet. (I have a large collection of clothing, if you don’t, try to only buy things you don’t already have, key staples or stand out pieces)
Extra thrifty tip: some stores give discount cards up to 25% off your next purchase for donating
Resell your old/unwanted clothes
If you have a few nicer pieces or name brand clothing, you can try to sell or trade your clothes at a consignment store. Some stores offer store credit while others offer cash, usually at about 30-50% of the total value they will sell it for. Some options include:
Sometimes employees will put cute dresses in the lingerie/pajama section or a leather jacket in the men’s blazer section, and they’ll be listed at prices lower than the dress and jacket sections. Silk scarves can be worn various ways as tops and headscarves and are three times the price online from your typical fast fashion brand. If you’re on the smaller side, don’t skip over the kid’s section and in general, always check the tags because sometimes the clothing sizes don’t match!
Know your fabrics
The production of synthetic fibers like Polyester have harmful effects on the environment as they require excessive amounts of coal, oil and water to be manufactured. If you can, look for fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, Lyocell (a more sustainable type of rayon) and linen for your clothes and home goods.
Don’t buy the broken/stained item!
Unless you’re a seamstress and plan to repurpose or dye the garment, don’t buy something you see is kinda broken or ripping at the seam, or has only one small stain. You likely won’t wear it – if you do it will be once – and end up in the bottom of your closet.
Small Alteration? No problem
This seems counterintuitive to my last tip but hear me out; if the item is goooood quality and the alterations will cost you less than what you would pay full price first hand, and that’s the only thing wrong with the item (I’m talking a great fitting pair of jeans with a gaping waist, changing buttons/zippers, cutting out the shoulder pads), get it. Find a great tailor/seamstress, DIY or trade your friend with sewing skills some fall baked goods.
When in doubt, don’t buy it. If you have something similar at home, or it’s not replacing something, ask yourself if you really need it. Will it match most things in your closet and/or is this a stand out piece that’s one of a kind that I will dream about? Does it spark joy?. Ha, but seriously. If not, leave it.