Green Is the New Black: Your 2016 Sustainable Shopping Guide
You don’t need to be draped in hemp to care about your clothes’ eco-cred. Nowadays, there are more ways than ever to own your style – and your carbon footprint. From simple switch-ups (like hitting thrift stores and packing your reusable tote bags), to the sharing economy, to the apps and sites that give you the green status of your favorite brands, here are some easy ways to make sustainable shopping part of your retail routine.
SUSTAINABLE SHOPPING SITES
Sites like Soko allow you to support independent artisans – not sweatshops. Photo Credit: Soko
We get it. Winding down your day with an online shopping session can be a great way to chill. Good news: this is one habit you don’t have to break. Instead, add a few new sites to your bookmarks. Buy Me Once is one of our faves, and puts the emphasis on useful products – ranging from kitchenware to jeans – that are so well made, they’ll last you for life. Soko curates high-style jewelry made by skilled, developing-world artisans instead of sweatshops. And Orange Harp is a swipe-happy app that only stocks Earth- and worker-friendly products.
The most eco-friendly shopping tool isn’t made of organic cotton, but aluminium, with sustainable apps on your phone.
Speaking of apps: if you’re planning to drop some cash, whether you’re picking up a new pair of pumps or your weekly groceries, don’t leave home without your phone. Social Impact points you to the eco-friendly shops and eateries in your nabe. We’re also big fans of GoodGuide, which rates hundreds of thousands of daily products according to how good they are for health, the environment, and social impact.
HIGH FASHION, LOW IMPACT
Brands like Everlane make high fashion look good and do good, with attention to ethical working conditions. Photo Credit: Everlane
Nope, sustainable clothing isn’t just made from weird bamboo fabric or hemp burlap. In 2016, the movement is expanding more and more into high fashion. From brands like Everlane – which only works with factories that offer safe working conditions – to Maiyet, whose beautiful pieces are made with global artisans (and who are behind the world’s first sustainable cashmere), ethical fashion is looking runway-ready these days.
The RealReal lets you get low-low prices on high-end duds. Photo Credit: The RealReal
Of course, you don’t have to spend top dollar for clothes you can feel good about. One of the simplest and most reliable ways to shop sustainably is to hit up your local thrift stores, where you’re saving clothes from being thrown away (in a world where each person tosses 82 pounds of textiles per year) and scooping finds donated by locals. For the digital version, consider signing up for The RealReal, where second-hand designer finds are sold at serious markdowns.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Full transparency on ProjectJUST lets you make conscious choices based on a brand’s practices. Photo Credit: ProjectJUST
If all this sustainable shopping talk has you fired up, now’s the time to really dig into the issue (beyond your shopping cart). Begin with the excellent new resource, Project JUST, which provides full-length reports on a number of popular brands, digging into their values and how their clothes are made (with plenty of data to back things up). Green fashion site EcoCult is another must-read for everything from what to pack for your green spring getaway to cruelty-free products for animal lovers. And don’t miss Ecouterre, which keeps readers posted on all the latest eco-fashion buzz.
OTHER QUICK TIPS
Markets sell much more than produce. Find handmade or thrifted wares at your next trip.
The moral of the story: it doesn’t take a lot to make sustainable shopping a part of your routine. Start small; instead of taking home new purchases in branded bags, make sure you’ve got a reliable tote bag or two with you. Looking for a one-of-a-kind gift? Browse Etsy’s artist-made wares (and filter geographically to find the makers closest to you). Keep an eye out for local craft fairs and farmers markets. And try swapping out lots of trend-conscious impulse buys for pricier staples that’ll spend years in your closet. The whole wide world will thank you!