The Student-Friendly Guide To Sustainable Clothes Shopping
When it comes to shopping for clothes sustainably small clothing brands with big price tags don't fit in well with the student lifestyle - but what other ways are there to get clothes in an eco-friendly way? Surprisingly, there are way more options than you might think. Here's my budget friendly guide to shopping sustainably, with all the options laid out from least to most expensive for the pesto-pasta massive. I've also made a mini quiz to see which option suits you best - which you can find at the bottom of this post.
1. SHOPPING FROM YOUR CLOSET
Be honest with me now, when was the last time you went through your entire wardrobe? Are you certain there's nothing hiding in the back you could wear? It's cheap, it's easy and no need to travel. Going out tonight? Are you sure there's absolutely nothing you could wear, even if it's the same thing you wore last time? If you're about to spend 20 odd on a dress that's enough to keep you bevved all night, and after that you wont care what you're wearing anyway.
Keep your friends close and their clothes even closer. If you have a friend a similar size to you, that's already doubled your options - bonus points if you have similar style, which pals usually do. If they're a real friend they'll be happy to lend something out, just make sure to stick it in the wash and give it back with a twix or something. If they say no try guilting them about the environment by showing them a video of polar bears jumping across scrappy bits of ice or something.
It's an absolutely free way to get new (to you) clothes to keep forever. Growing up I was given hand-me-downs all the time and when my sister clears out her closet nowadays she still offers me things first before selling or donating them. You should get your friends together to Marie-Kondo your wardrobes and share out what you'd usually get rid of - knowing your clothes are going to get re-worn instead of ending up in landfill is super rewarding. Even if you come across one item you don't want to keep, try asking your friends if they'll take it - I'm sure they'll appreciate it (especially if they're waiting for the next student loan to drop).
£1 - £15
4. CHARITY SHOPS
I've been fairly outspoken about my love for charity shopping already, and if you want to know more about what's available in Lancaster check out my post here, which critically examines each one in town. Charity shops are great if you have time, patience and a good eye. They're best for browsing. If you go in with a particular item you want in mind it might take a while, I won't lie I once waited a whole term to find a black mini skirt in town.
5. DEPOP, VINTED & EBAY
Online resale sites (where people sell their old clothes and post them out) are perfect for finding the exact item you want.
Depop has become infamous for it's high prices, but don't let the fake news liberal media fool you. For certain categories I'd avoid it - such as the dreaded y2k or brandy melville. However, for your regular stuff it's still quite reasonable - but watch out for drop-shippers (people who buy in bulk and sell them on for profit). Buying from them is not sustainable, as they're purchasing new in bulk from unknown and likely less than fair places. This site is better for second-hand high-street clothing and custom pieces.
Vinted is everything Depop was meant to be before it was corrupted. There's so much fantastic stuff at great prices, and there's a lot more security - the seller doesn't receive the money until the buyer has received the item, whereas on Depop the seller gets the cash straight away. I prefer Vinted to Depop 100%, but I'm crossing my fingers it doesn't await the same fate as Depop. Vinted is great for vintage pieces and bargains.
Ebay. If you know your style and you're willing to hunt for and bid on items this is great - especially if you want designer or higher end bargains. I personally don't like Ebay, and if you're just getting into slow fashion I'd recommend Vinted, as it's a great easy way to start out.
Any of these options are great if you want to browse on the bus, or while waiting for your food to cook. Your phone's in your hand anyway, why not close that Asos tab and use it for good?
6. VINTAGE SHOPS
Most towns have a vintage shop or two. In Lancaster the Streetwear Kilo Shop has recently opened, and there's usually a stall at the market in Alexandra Square on Thursdays. There's also usually stalls at the Lancaster Emporium too. Personally, I don't tend to go for these kinds of vintage shops, as they mostly just sell beaten up converse and old XL jumpers and windbreakers that didn't sell in the 80s - but hey if that's your thing that's your thing. Sorry, I'm more of a mini skirt girl. Unfortunately, I am yet to find a vintage store that caters to my style in Lancaster, but hey, I've got plenty of options still.
There are also kilo sales that happen regularly in most towns. In Lancaster there will be one on the sixth of March at Kanteena if you're interested!
If you need a dress for a big occasion like a wedding, and can't borrow something, try looking into renting a garment. There's no need to splash the cash when you're most likely only going to wear it once. Just google 'dress rental' and you're sorted. You'll also be able to find something much nicer within your budget, as you don't have to cover the whole price. Go on, upstage the bride, I dare you.
Here are some examples of clothes I sourced through these methods:
The blue jumper was purchased through Depop.
The green dress, purple top and red bag are from charity shops.
The burnt orange knit top is a hand-me-down from my sister.
The blue jumper was something I bought before becoming conscious of sustainable clothing - I used to be obsessed with the brand it is from and bought so many clothes from there. I fell in love with this jumper, but it was sold out so I bought it second hand. It was an accidental sustainable move, but still an eco-win!
Take the 'Which Way Should I Shop?' quiz to see which option fits you best!
I hope you enjoyed the mini quiz - it was a lot harder to make than I first assumed. I now have a heightened respect for all those teen-girl magazines I read when I was younger with the 'What sort of friend are you?' quizzes. Yes, I did make this on Instagram stories while eating a snickers in the Library instead of studying. What's it to you?