Sustainable Shopping Tips for Everyday People

6 min readOct 21, 2021


By Meghan Hayden

Three people in vintage shop, many trying on crocheted scarves
Sustainable Shopping Tips (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Sometimes the thought of shopping sustainability and creating a more eco-friendly wardrobe can feel overwhelming. You might not be able to wear the brands you love, or feel unsure where to start when so many brands are out there saying different things. Not to mention the perceived cost that comes with sustainable brands. But it doesn’t need to be this way; you can make small changes to start shopping sustainability and be kinder to the planet in the long run.

Six Sustainable Shopping Tips for a Greener Everyday Life

With so much happening in the world, it’s vital that consumers take more steps toward greener living. These sustainable shopping tips are all things you can slowly implement into your everyday life. Although it can feel daunting to change your shopping habits, you can start by doing one at a time and build healthy habits.

How To Thrift Like A Pro — bestdressed

1. Shop Second-Hand

Whether you’re looking for the best workout clothes or a new date outfit, you can find so many beautiful items when you shop second-hand. Buying second-hand or vintage is one way to shop mindfully and give items a new lease on life. You can find a range of stores and online shops to rehome preloved pieces.

2. Avoid Fast Fashion

Fast fashion involves producing cheap, poor-quality clothes in large quantities. The problem with this is that clothes don’t tend to last and end up in the bin. Fast fashion is an issue because it puts a massive strain on the environment with production and waste. If possible, avoid fast fashion.

Fast fashion, the girl puts things in order in the closet in need of a sustainable shopping.
Fast Fashion Puts Massive Strain In Our Environment (Image Source: Shutterstock)

3. Unsubscribe from Emails

One way to limit your exposure to fast fashion brands is to unsubscribe from emails. When an email appears in your inbox with a flash sale, it’s easy to feel tempted when you can buy something new in one click. By cutting down your inbox, you can limit your direct exposure to fast fashion brands.

4. Try to Buy Organic Cotton

If you’re looking to invest in a capsule wardrobe and make more eco-friendly shopping decisions, opt for organic cotton. Try to avoid fabrics that contribute more to the pollution of the oceans. In general, items that are certified organic are more closely monitored throughout the supply chain.

Friends choosing clothes at the weekly cloth market.
Avoid Fabrics That Contribute More To The Pollution Of The Oceans (Image Source: Shutterstock)

5. Make a Second-Hand Shop List

Before you head to your nearest thrift store, try to identify gaps in your wardrobe and make a list of what you need. Set a budget for yourself, and prioritize which stores carry the kind of styles you like. If you go thrift shopping without a plan, it’s easy to buy too much and end up having to resell your purchases.

6. Don’t Impulse Buy

Shopping sustainably is about investing in items that are long-lasting and quality instead of impulse buying. If you can avoid impulse buys, you can create a better wardrobe with more versatility. Try to figure out precisely what you need so you know what to buy. Choosing high-quality items doesn’t need to be overly expensive. Thanks to thrifting and second-hand shopping increasing in popularity, you now have more options than ever, from eco-friendly activewear to vintage classics.

A woman doing Yoga outside under the morning sunlight wearing purple leggings and white sports bra.
Sustainable Eco-friendly Activewear Picks For Your Workouts

Where are the Best Second-Hand Shops in New York City?

There’s a bunch of reasons why you should shop second-hand. Give preloved items a new lease on life, help the environment, and spend less money. The fashion industry is heading in a much more sustainable direction, with more people thrifting than buying new.

New York Vintage Shops Locals Know | How To Thrift Like A Pro — KarenBritChick

According to Threadup, the resale market should grow eleven times faster than traditional clothing retail by 2025. By 2030, the resale market should be worth $84 billion. In comparison, the fast fashion industry should be worth half that, coming in at $40 billion.

If you’re ready to start shopping more sustainability, here’s a quick round-up of some of the best NYC second-hand stores:

  • 10ft Single by Stella Dallas at 285 North 6th Street — a huge space full of vintage pieces.
  • City Opera Thrift Shop at 513 West 26th Street (10th and 11th ave) — shop in-store and online for rare designer pieces at great prices. All profits go to New York’s Opera House.
  • IndigoStyle Vintage at 409 Lewis Avenue — vintage and contemporary clothing, accessories, and furniture.
  • L-Train Vintage at 629 Grand Street — a quirky selection of items with regularly updated pieces across several NYC locations.

What are the Benefits of Shopping Sustainably?

The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter after the oil industry. By shopping sustainably, you can help to divert what would be waste from garbage processing centers. With so many pieces of clothing heading to landfills, it’s important to reduce the number of clothing purchases. If possible, shop second-hand or look for new pieces that use recycled and organic materials.

Couple having fun at clothing flea market.
Buying Second-Hand Is Less Expensive Than Buying Brand New (Image Source: Shutterstock)

By avoiding fast fashion, you tend to have the opportunity to find something special. Rather than having a copy of what everyone else has, you can usually find unique and rare pieces. In general, buying second-hand is less expensive than buying brand new. It can be exciting to find items that are different from what you see in current stores. As you step into vintage stores, it’s fun to experience something unusual like clothes from another time period.

What is Fast Fashion?

As trend cycles started to accelerate and clothes became cheaper, fast fashion came into fruition. These fast fashion brands dominate the high streets and online shopping, producing poor quality and throw-away items. Fast fashion involves producing trendy items that copy catwalk or celebrity culture with exceptional speed to meet consumer demand. The idea is that you get in-demand trends to the market as fast as humanly possible, only to discard the items after a few wears.

The True Cost of Fast Fashion — The Economist

Every year, Americans generate sixteen million tons of textile waste. Fast fashion has a significant impact on the planet as well as the communities that produce these textiles. Increasing pressure to reduce processing costs often means cutting corners that are more likely to impact the planet. For instance, the fast fashion industry tends to use cheaper, toxic textile dyes, leading to dangerous chemicals in the environment. The constant demand for clothing puts a lot of stress on the planet with more land clearing and biodiversity issues.

Both the planet and the communities that produce these types of clothes take a hit. Dangerous working conditions for garment workers are a problem in the industry. Statistics show that the average working day in most manufacturing countries is fourteen to sixteen hours. The collapse of the Rana Plaza in 2013, where 1,134 garment workers were killed in Bangladesh, highlights the dangerous problem.

You can take steps to avoid fast fashion and make ethical decisions in all aspects of your life. Although the cheap price tag may be attractive in fast fashion, you get what you pay for most of the time. The reality is that fast fashion takes a huge toll on the planet, the environment, communities, and workers. By avoiding fast fashion and choosing second-hand items, you can look to shop more sustainably.

Timeless Fashion and Shopping Sustainably

By focusing on multi-seasonal clothes and high-quality pieces that will last, you can get more wear out of them. As a consumer, it’s important to make eco-friendly decisions so that brands become more aware of the power of transparency and sustainability. Whether you love heading to your nearest thrift store or don’t even know where to start buying second-hand clothing, you can begin to shop sustainably. Avoiding fast fashion and impulse buys helps you craft a more ethical wardrobe that’s kinder to the planet.

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