Finding sustainable shopping options can feel overwhelming at the best of times. Combine that with the unprecedented global pandemic, where many people and places are in lockdowns, and trying to shop sustainably without leaving your home might seem like an impossible task. Fear not! We’re going to talk tips, tricks and must visit websites to help you shop sustainably from the comfort of your home.
Shop your wardrobe first
Let’s keep it real. In my 25 years of life, I’ve bought heaps of clothing, shoes and just STUFF, that I never have the heart to donate – usually on the off chance that fashion might come full circle and those hideous jelly shoes I wore one time make a comeback.
While there might not be any hope for my fugly jelly shoes, there are so many beautiful pieces of clothing in my wardrobe that I’ve been able to give a new lease of life to. So dive into your wardrobe and see if there’s any potential to revive those tucked away pieces you forgot about.
Top tip: Consider upcycling items too! Bleach, crop, tie-dye, embroider. Get experimental with your old clothes, and perhaps you’ll find a fun, creative outlet in the process.
Shop sustainably online via secondhand sites
For those of you that already love thrifting and raiding your local charity shop, I don’t have to sell you on the wondrous world of shopping secondhand. Thanks to websites like Depop and Vinted, shopping secondhand couldn’t be easier. Sellers provide detailed listings and photographs of pieces they no longer wear. You can message them questions and even make an offer if you think the price is a little steep – most sellers are friendly and open to some reasonable negotiating.
Some sellers on Depop and Vinted even specialise in vintage pieces, designer and luxury goods, upcycling and custom alterations too. If you’re new to the world of secondhand clothing, these websites are a great opportunity to try it out with very little effort required. Gone are the days of trawling through every thrift shop in your city. Now you can shop sustainably with a few clicks and some scrolling.
Top tip: it’s super easy to set up your own shop on Depop and Vinted, so you can give your clothes a loving home and earn some extra cash too. Check out my Depop shop Feel Good Thrift for preloved, vintage and consignment pieces.
Find sustainable local businesses to support
Supporting local business is one of my favourite ways to shop sustainably. When you find a local store or artist that sells pieces that are just your style and sustainable, it feels like the stars have aligned. You get to shop guilt-free and feel like a legend for supporting a local person – like a real human being, not one of those faceless corporations.
So how do you find local businesses to support? Well, it takes some research, but there are lots of helpful websites and resources, such as:
- Your local newspaper. A quick google search will pull up articles relating to sustainable businesses in your area. Your local newspaper might even feature a list of sustainable businesses in your city, like the Bristol Post’s list of Bristol based sustainable businesses.
- Social media search. Most small businesses nowadays have social media accounts, which makes finding them so much easier. Try searching for hashtags like #SustainableBristol or #BristolSmallBusinesses. Chances are, there are plenty of businesses using these hashtags and you might even find accounts dedicated to curating lists of small businesses and artists too.
- Etsy. You can filter your searches by location to find small businesses and artisans in your area (see below). Filter further using the vintage or handmade filters and then click through to shops that catch your eye. Most shop pages have information about their ethics, sourcing and sustainability so you can decide which shops align with your style, ethics and budget.
Shop sustainably for free
For reals. It is possible to shop sustainably for free. Through a combination of listing boards and swap websites, you can find many secondhand items for free. The catch is that for a lot of these items you’ll need to leave your house to pick them up, as most people list items for free that they no longer need, might not have the means to dispose of themselves and just need out of their space.
Some great websites to find free secondhand items include:
- Facebook Marketplace
- Gumtree Swap Shop
- The Freecycle Network
Arrange a clothes swap with friends
Much like tip number one, shop your wardrobe, why not ask your friends if you can raid their wardrobe too. Chances are they also have a rail, box or suitcase full of clothes they just don’t wear anymore. Pre-COVID you might get together with a rail of clothes each and shop each other’s wardrobes, however, during lockdown you need to get a little more creative. Here are some tips to arrange a virtual swap:
- Step one: rally the troops! Reach out to friends and family to see who might be interested in a swap.
- Step two: get organised. Set up a group chat or a private page on Facebook with all participants in the swap.
- Step three: get swapping. Members can then post photos, videos and descriptions of their items, and those interested in the item can reach out to arrange a swap. Simple!
What are your favourite sustainable online stores? Have you had any upcycling successes? And do you have a Depop or Vinted store you’d like to promote? Feel free to reach out in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!