Any Bristol student could tell you about the city’s fantastic range of charity and vintage clothes shops. From the charity shops that line Cotham Hill to the larger vintage stores on Park Street, there are plenty of shopping spots for the environmentally and fashion conscious. I’ve found that nothing quite beats the thrill of finding a pair of jeans in a charity shop for a thrifty four pounds, wearing them out and when complimented on the jeans shouting drunkenly- ‘I got them from a charity shop! FOUR POUNDS!’ I’d recommend charity shopping simply for moments like these, plus the added knowledge that by shopping second-hand you’re helping the planet.
Sustainable fashion is a movement on the rise, which I’m sure you’ve already heard much about. The novelty of next-day delivery and a cheap going-out top is starting to wear off, replaced by a growing sense of duty to know where our clothes have come from and how they’re made. A 2016 McKinsey report revealed that three-fifths of all clothing items will end up in landfill a year after being produced and by 2030 its expected that fashion waste will become a 148-million-ton problem.
Making simple changes to your shopping habits is the way forward. This can go beyond sampling your local charity and vintage shops, although that’s a great and easy way to start. Find local clothes swaps, pledge to shop less frequently and research the sustainable ethics behind your favourite stores. Brands like Reformation, Free People and Thought produce beautiful garments that are made to last. The clothes they sell involve processes that are kinder to the environment and their workers. However, buying from these brands can leave a dent in your bank account, so it’s encouraging that it seems the importance of sustainability resonates with a certain high street brand too. H&M launched their eighth Conscious collection last year, the simple designs are made from recycled materials and prove surprisingly affordable. Spend your money wisely – invest in higher end, carefully made clothes when you can and you will have them for many years to come. If you have to turn to the highstreet, choose a store aware of the impacts its business has on our environment.
It’ll be no surprise that fast fashion alternatives can be found all over social media. For every influencer promoting Missguided’s £1 bikini there exists a whole community of women eager to help change attitudes towards shopping and fashion consumerism. Instagram is home to a whole community of sustainable fashion influencers. Accounts such as Twelve Sisters, Venetia Falconer and Fiona J Happy will ensure that your feed is filled with positive reminders to make sustainable choices when it comes to fashion. Many of these accounts have links to their Depop stores, another easy way to buy second-hand or from independent designers.
There are so many ways to shop sustainably, from the charity shops that exist on your doorstep to independent online retailers handcrafting their own ethical garments. If you feel moved to begin your own sustainable fashion journey, I’d recommend visiting www.sustainablefashionmatterz.com. It’s a great place to start with a lot of helpful information and tips. Happy shopping!
This article is part of HC Bristol’s Sustainability themed week.