From Shopaholic to Conscious Consumer

Last week I gave you my best tips on finding your perfect pair of vintage jeans, and how I converted from a fast-fashion shopaholic to a vintage fiend. I am a huge believer that secondhand and vintage is the most sustainable way to shop, but as I became more conscious of my purchasing habits, I found myself in the rut of still wanting more. So maybe my secondhand purchases were "sustainable," but my mindset was not. Today I want to talk to you about the BIGGEST thing holding us back from a responsible supply chain, our shopaholic habits and how to beat them!

The first thing I wanted to do was Marie Kondo the crap out of my closet, but honestly, that style of decluttering didn't work for me. What happens if everything in your closet sparks joy?!? My goal was to be intentional with the pieces I owned, so what I did was kind of the opposite of what Marie suggests.

Instead of pulling out everything from your closet, I only pulled out the things I wore. That way I could see how little of my closet was actually being used and what styles/pieces I am drawn to most. 

Next, I went through what was left of my closet and put everything in one of these categories:

  • Items that were truly special to me
  • Things I liked but didn't wear
  • Things I didn't wear

The truly special items I kept. The things I liked but didn't wear got stored in a box, so I could try living without them for a few months. And lastly, the things I didn't wear got donated to charities that I believed in.

I can guarantee you that you will be able to live without most of those items you stored away in a box, but come back to them after 4 months and re-ask yourself if you can live without it.

Once you're feeling great after decluttering, you can now start to think about your relationship with clothes a bit better. The World Wear Project estimates that one person throws out an average of 32kg of clothing a year. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, no. We need to come to the agreement that there is no "away." We can't keep shipping trucks of trashed clothing to overseas landfills, because eventually, no one will take it! But, what I do suggest is finding great organizations to donate to or textile recycling drop-offs around you.

I love donating to New Circles here in Toronto and have used Levi's store drop off boxes for their denim recycling partnership with Blue Jeans Go Green. H&M also has textile drop-off boxes where you can take clothing that is too ratty to be donated.  There are some obvious concerns with the ethical standards of the secondhand supply chain, but we're going to take a deep dive into this next week, so come back for that.

After donating or recycling the clothes you no longer need, start to think about the why behind wanting something new. For example, is it for one night out? If yes, you don't need it. Buy with intention and ask yourself before buying that amazing vintage Patagonia fleece - Would I have bought this full price? Will I wear this at least 30 times? Do I love the way it fits? These are some questions that help me feel like I am in control at the thrift store, and don't overindulge myself. But, when I do feel as though I truly need something, I will look for it vintage or secondhand before finding a responsible brand that makes it.

I also know what styles, colors, and shapes of clothing I wear most from pulling out the items I wear and make sure when buying something new that it fits within these guidelines.

All in all, I think buying vintage and secondhand is the best way to keep unwanted textiles out of our landfills! But, we need to shift our overall mindset from being avid consumers and craving insane amounts of "stuff" to being purposeful in what we buy! I can honestly tell you that I feel much freer not concerning myself with the way someone thinks about me if I don't have the latest box logo Supreme. Now it's not to say I still don't love trends and want that cool new pair of kicks from the New Balance X Aime Leon Dore collab, but I've changed my relationship with fashion as a whole. It's all about buying with intention and making sure you're going to use something well and take good care of it for its entire lifecycle.

I hope this decluttering method helps you make the mental shift towards being more mindful when shopping! For sustainable brand recommendations, check out my curated selection here and follow me on Instagram for daily tips and recos.

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