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Image / Fashion

Are you doing Sustainable September? Here are 5 ways to curb your shopping habit


By Hannah Hillyer
01st Sep 2021

Emma Louise Connolly

Are you doing Sustainable September? Here are 5 ways to curb your shopping habit

@emmalouiseconnolly Instagram

Here at IMAGE, we are trying to be as sustainable as possible during September; whether it’s celebrating our favourite vintage finds, taking on a month-long shopping ban, or re-wearing what we already have.

We do our best to be sustainable here at IMAGE, but given the industry we work in there is temptation everywhere. If you’re writing fashion pieces it’s hard not to add things to your basket whilst doing your ‘research’. Our poor postman might be driven demented as he delivers countless packages to our offices throughout the week – and we are not the only ones shopping too much.

We are all guilty of excess buying. It’s so easy. A click of a button and we can have whichever dress, pair of shoes or handbag in our hands within 24 hours. How can we resist?

Yet, we can’t hide from the fact that fast-fashion is destroying our planet. After all, the consumer need for ‘more, more, more’ drives up the supply. It is estimated that every second, the equivalent of one rubbish truck filled with clothing goes to landfill or is burned. Imagine what that looks like after a minute, after an hour, after a whole day?

It’s easy to forget these statistics when you’re shopping, as there’s nothing quite like a new outfit. You feel fresh and shiny and it instantly makes you feel good about yourself. But, when we get used to doing this all the time it can become a habit – one that isn’t easy to break.

Here are five ways you can stop spending and be more sustainable – yet still feel good about what you’re wearing. Fashion is supposed to be fun and a way to express yourself, so who wants to do that with a guilty conscience?

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When I moved out of home and suddenly had rent and bills to pay, I could no longer shop with careless abandon like I used to. But I was so tempted, all the time. Firstly I needed to look at when I was shopping and why. I quickly realised that I did a lot of browsing in the mornings on my way to work (having a long commute meant I could do a lot of damage with all that time to spare).

I always had music or a podcast to listen to, a book to read or news articles to catch up on, so why was I always shopping in the morning?

Newsletters. These were my weakness. Zara, Monki, ASOS, & Other Stories all had newsletters landing in my inbox first thing in the AM. It’s almost as if they planned it this way right? When you’re trudging to the bus stop on a rainy morning, it’s such an easy win to treat yourself to that €30 top, or dress for the weekend. You get the instant dopamine hit and your day is already looking up.

So, delete the newsletters. Unsubscribe to everything.

There are great services for this, such as Unroll.me, which show you everything you’re subscribed to and lets you un-tick all of the ones that you no longer wish to receive.

By removing the temptation you will make it so much easier on yourself, as all it takes is one dreary morning when you’re on your period for you to give in to that ‘10% off everything’ email.

Shop your wardrobe

If there is only one take-away from reading this article, let it be this: If you’re anything like me, you will already have a wardrobe bursting with clothes.

Retailers and Instagram can make us feel that to stay ‘on trend’ and relevant we constantly need to be updating with new pieces – but as fashion is cyclical, there is really no need to be throwing clothes away and buying more all of the time.

As much as I love Marie Kondo, and fully believe that a de-cluttered home is good for the mind, I don’t believe it’s always best to chuck out clothes because you’re not wearing it this season, as you may wear it again in the future.

The best way to shop your wardrobe depends on where you get your fashion inspiration from. For me, it’s usually Instagram. Now, if I see someone in an outfit I love, I save it (I have a specific Instagram collection called ‘outfits’) for the next time I’m in a dilemma over what to wear.

I will literally stand in front of my wardrobes (yes I have two, don’t judge me I worked in retail for 10 years and acquired a lot of clothes) and look through this saved folder for anything I can re-create. You’ll be so surprised with what you already have. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to re-create an outfit exactly but who wants to look the exact same as everyone else?

This blazer is a really old purchase, I bought it in River Island when I was 17. 10 years later, I can still hear my Mum urging me to buy it on the day, saying it’s something I’d have forever. Reader, your Mum is always right; listen to her. I layered it over a white shirt dress (by Weekday, from three years ago), paired with leather leggings (Primark from five years ago), and white trainers (from Whistles, two years ago).

Absolutely nothing I’m wearing is new, but I haven’t worn any of these pieces in a long time. Now, styled differently, these pieces have a new lease of life and I feel excited by them again; as though I’m wearing something new.

As it’s gets colder I probably will wear this with tights and boots (I’m just not ready to give in to tights just yet).

Borrow

This seems obvious, but it is sometimes an option I neglect to think of.

Another easy way to fall into an online shopping hole is when you have an occasion coming up. A big event, a birthday or a wedding heralds the chance to go and buy yourself some new glad-rags. But do you really need to?

How many dresses have you already bought for previous events that now hang sadly in your wardrobe, never worn again?

Ask around, get on to your friends, your sister and your mum and ask if you can have a snoop inside their wardrobes. Chances are they’ll be just like you and have a few forlorn dresses that also have only been worn once, begging for a night out on the town.

If you don’t follow the amazing ladies behind The Useless Project, you should. Taz Kelleher and Geraldine Carton are all about being as sustainable as possible when it comes to your clothing and have a ton of resources on upcycling, sewing, sustainable brands, as well as regular swap shops and flea markets.

Save up for one nice thing

For some, they are always going to be shoppers. I don’t see myself shopping my wardrobe or buying vintage/second-hand all the time. There are always going to be moments where I either need or want to buy something new, and that’s okay too.

Instead of spending your money frequently on fast-fashion items that may not stand the test of time, look at purchasing one thing every now and again that is maybe a little more pricey than a €5 t-shirt.

This is not to say ‘don’t buy high-street’, or even that high-street quality is not good.

It’s more about avoiding specific retailers (hello €1 bikini, I’m looking at you) that promote buying all the time.

Try to purchase better quality fabrics and good basics. A black wool coat, a good quality denim jacket and leather boots. These are all pieces that, with a bit of love and care, will last longer than buying their cheaper quality counterparts and never go out of fashion.

Feature Image: @emmalouiseconnolly via Instagram.