I feel like this post has been a long time coming. When I started my minimalist ‘Capsule Wardrobe’ my goal was to not only have less (have less; wear more) but also to learn how to be more mindful with purchases. Fast forward a couple of years & I wrote this post on how I meshed two ideas: KonMari Meets The Capsule Wardrobe where again, I mentioned how my goal was really to choose purchases that made me feel good.

Whether we want to think about it or not, our purchases have the ability to make others lives better (or worse) & while I am certainly not perfect – I don’t think perfection is the goal. I think education is the best thing we can do for ourselves because as we’ve heard, when we know better, we do better.

Part of the reason this post took so darn long for me to write (& why it’s coming so slowly out of my fingertips right now) is because I don’t want to get it wrong. I want to be able to tell you the best way for you to be more mindful with your purchases but – it’s really hard. And it’s something I struggle with all the time.

One side of me wants to be responsible & only source my clothing & accessories ethically & fair trade. The other just really needs to run to Target right now & get a new pair of sunglasses. And so that’s why I’ve struggled with putting this post together because I can’t claim to be perfect & I can’t promise I always make the best decision. But for my sanity (& for anyone else who struggles with ‘perfection’ so much that it can actually paralyze them) I will say – I don’t always make the best decision of all time. But I will try to make the best decision I can in that moment. And also… everything counts. Which means when you buy one ethically made, fair trade necklace, even if the next day you buy a scarf from a big box department store, your ethical purchase still counts towards making another person’s life better, ok? Ok.

Whew. This feels heavy now.

I have to throw a shout out to my friend, Amber, who helped me formulate this post. Amber works as an ambassador for one of my favorite companies, Noonday. Amber is just one of those people who’s mission it is to do good in this world. She makes me do more good. And she’s realistic & she’s honest & she’s a lot like me. So I really appreciated her ideas.

If you’ve been struggling with how to be more mindful with your purchases lately, I really hope you’ll find this post helpful! I’ve also linked to some items I wear often. Yes, you’ve likely seen them before but I realize that doesn’t make them any less special to me. Links to items at the bottom of the post!

EDUCATE YOURSELF ON YOUR OPTIONS & THEN DECIDE WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU

When we start to go down the road of ethical fashion, there are a lot of options that come into play. Maybe organic fabrics are at the top of your list. Maybe fair trade is what concerns you the most. Maybe you prefer one for one organizations that provide aid to people in developing countries. Maybe your biggest concern is finding companies that pay local people for goods, therefore providing jobs. There’s a lot to discover when you start down this rabbit hole. So I think it’s best to first, educate yourself on what different types of sustainable, ethical fashion there are available & then, decide the issues that matter most to you.

For example, companies like Madewell have a goal of social responsibility while companies like Everlane pride themselves on radical transparency. Companies like Patagonia & Beautycounter are proudly certified B Corps, meaning they put people & planet over profit. And companies like Fashionable, Nisolo & Noonday strive for providing people jobs vs charity.

DECIDE IF YOU REALLY NEED SOMETHING NEW, THEN REPURPOSE YOUR CURRENT ITEM

Ahhh, this one is the real kicker isn’t it. Because we live in America, we are constantly bombarded with the next new thing. Our things become worn out, old & outdated faster than we can wear them. How many times have you tossed a dress after realizing you maybe only wore it once (or how about never)? This is the real issue.

Instead of deciding you need something new, how about repurposing what you already have. Wear a button down shirt as a jacket. Layer a sweater over a dress. Get creative. Sometimes it just takes wearing something a new way to breathe some life into it.

If you do decide you need something new, I would encourage you to first donate or sell your current item. There are online shops like Thredup that will purchase used clothing. A local consignment shop is another great option or I’ve even heard of friends hosting parties in their homes where they swap clothes they don’t wear anymore. I never hesitate to ask my friends if they’d like something I don’t wear! Check out local charities looking for donations. When we lived in Omaha, I donated a formal gown to a local cleaner who cleaned the gowns & then sold them for like, $30 to benefit a local mission.

The point is, don’t throw your clothing in the trash. Do something useful with it.

FIND COMPANIES YOU FEEL GOOD TO PURCHASE FROM & SHOP THERE FIRST.

By now, your head might be spinning a bit thinking about every place you shopped before & where you should shop now. Well, don’t get discouraged. Fortunately, you have the internet at your fingertips! Now that I’ve been actively searching for more ethical companies, I have a pretty good range of places I can shop when I need something. Leggings? Yep. Shoes? Mmmhmmm.

The first thing I would suggest is checking out companies that are Fair Trade. The Fair Trade Federation has some great principles that are worth reading through to understand exactly what they support. My friend, Amber, refers to Fair Trade as her ‘gold standard’.

If you aren’t able to buy Fair Trade, either because you just can’t find something you like/need (I’ve been there) or it’s cost prohibitive (also been there), I would look for something that’s ethically manufactured so you can be confident the workers are getting paid fairly.

If that isn’t an option, look for companies that provide transparent sourcing, or they are made from smaller companies in the US. Sometimes, when purchasing from these smaller companies you may be paying more per item. But my opinion is that I’m ok paying more for one top I’ll wear 1000x than paying less for something that won’t last a season.

If that isn’t an option, look for larger scale companies that aim for responsible sourcing (this is usually my last stop after exhausting all other resources).

And finally, don’t forget thrift or consignment shopping. That’s probably the best way to achieve sustainable fashion!

Wearing:

Georgia Linen Tee in Ivory. This top is the stuff dreams are made of. It always looks flowy & lovely, machine washable, looks fantastic pressed or straight from the suitcase with a bit of wrinkle, perfect for hot summers or layer a sweater over it for winter. If I was stranded on a desert island with one thing, it would be this top.

Horn Prism Necklace. I just recently got this piece & I couldn’t be happier. While I do have a bit of jewelry to keep things fresh, I’m typically the type of gal who settles on one signature piece & wears it to death. There are so many variations on the horn that each piece looks different!

Tadesse Bucket Bag in Cognac. I treated myself to this bag just before Christmas because I’d been long wearing this amazing Sseko bucket bag – but the bucket was just way too large for my every day bag. The Tadesse is an amazing every day bag for me. Not too small, not too large with a cross body strap that let’s me be hands free.

How do you feel about sustainable fashion?

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