Tag Archives: thrift

Tips for dressing more sustainably

Sustainable fashion is pricey.

If you Google “sustainable clothing,” you’ll find lots of options. T-shirts made from 100% organic cotton, leggings made from recycled plastic bottles, fair trade scarves… and so on.

But most of those items are around $100 a piece. They may be a better option for the planet, but not so much for your wallet.

If you’re looking to invest in some more sustainable options, but you’re not tryna break the bank, I gotchu. Me too.

I’ve come up with a few tips to dress more sustainably, and I’ve listed some brands I feel good about giving my dollars to.

THE MOST SUSTAINABLE OUTFIT IS THE ONE YOU ALREADY OWN

This is probably not the answer you’re looking for, but it’s true.

A study conducted by Jenny Hall, an anthropologist studying the environmental effects of fast fashion, found that for the average household in the UK, around 30% of clothing goes unworn over the course of a year.

That might seem like a high percentage, but I know for me, I have a handful of outfits I wear regularly… and the others are articles of clothing I wear on occasion, or ones I tell myself I’ll eventually have the confidence to wear. But I never actually take them off the hanger.

I think that’s probably the case for many of us. It’s the “what if there’s an occasion I’ll need it!” or “one day I’ll lose enough weight to fit into those pants again!” mentality that keeps our dressers overstuffed with outfits we haven’t worn in years.

When going through your clothes, check in with the status of some of your dusty outfits. Have you worn it in the last year? Why or why not? If it doesn’t fit, don’t keep it!

(Perhaps the topic of another article, but in my experience, keeping your “skinny” pants that you hardly fit into anymore isn’t good for you. It’s a pair of pants… it’s not your identity. Let it go and find a different pair that fit you beautifully. You’ll look like a million bucks and you’ll feel cool as heck.)

If you’re having a hard time parting with some of your clothes, put them in a bag and set them somewhere you won’t see them. Keep them there for a month. If you haven’t thought about them during that time, either donate them, give them away or try to sell them online.

We need to normalize rewearing outfits, too. I remember in high school I was petrified of wearing the same shirt more than once a week. Now, I’ve gotten rid of so many of my clothes that I rewear the same shirts in the same week all of the time. There’s nothing wrong with rewearing clothes! Pair your black T-shirt with a jean jacket one day. Then the next day wear a scarf. Maybe the day after that wear a blazer with it and tuck in your shirt. There are tons of ways to rewear your clothes while making you feel fresh with each wear.

SECONDHAND OPTIONS CAN BE CHEAP, UNIQUE, AND MORE SUSTAINABLE

Quality jeans, 100% cotton T-shirts, quirky jackets and some other general clothing staples are usually fairly easy to thrift.

If you’ve been to your local thrift stores, like Goodwill and the Salvation Army, and you swear you can’t find anything that fits your style. I get it. I’ve been there.

I’m a pretty avid thrifter. The vast majority of my clothes are thrifted, but I still leave SalVal empty handed now and again.

Here are a few tips for what to look for when you go thrifting.

  1. Know what you’re looking for. If can be really difficult to find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for. If you need a cute jacket, go to the thrift store with that in mind. Look through Pinterest for some inspiration of what you’re looking for. Keep in mind the shape of the jacket, or the general pattern, and have an open mind when you walk down the aisles.
  2. Try stuff on. I’ve grabbed a dress that I thought was hideous and then tried it on and fell in love. You never know how something will fit your body until you try it on!
  3. Step out of your comfort zone. While you can find some basics at a thrift store, sometimes the most fun is when you find the most obscure looking shirt and then when you try it on, it’s your new favorite item. You never know what you’ll find.
  4. Shop for basics. A black T-shirt, a nice pair of Levi jeans, a leather jacket… all of these things are usually easy to come by at the thrift store. You may not think to go there for a replacement to your favorite T, but give it a shot. They may have the brand you like there for half the price!

OTHER SECONDHAND OPTIONS

Here is a list of some online secondhand stores that might be easier to shop during the pandemic:

Depop
Ebay
Etsy
Goodwill online
Patagonia Worn Wear
Poshmark
ThredUp

ECO-FRIENDLY BRANDS I DIG

Full disclosure, I’ve never purchased clothing from a sustainable company. I usually go the secondhand route.

However, I’ve been trying to buy my jewelry from fair trade and sustainable companies. I like to get my jewelry from Ten Thousand Villages, Mata Traders and Made Trade.

Here is a list of companies that are quality sustainable brands. Some are more reasonably priced, while others are ridiculously expensive. I’d love to eventually purchase a few items from these shops, but I just haven’t had the money. If you do purchase something from one of these places, please let me know what you think!

This list isn’t exhaustive. There are countless sustainable brands out there. However, I wanted to list companies that I know to be quality. Again, I haven’t purchased from most of these, but I’ve heard only good things. Most of these are a bit pricey, so if price is a concern, maybe stick with secondhand stores. Or, buy one or two staples from one of these sustainable stores.

Conscious Clothing
Girlfriend Collective (super inclusive sizing for yoga/work out clothes!)
Kotn
Made Trade
Mata Traders
Pact
Patagonia
Ten Tree

OPT FOR CLOTHING YOU’LL USE ALL THE TIME

Buying clothes from a brand like Target or Walmart isn’t bad. Don’t feel shame about it! If you find an article of clothing that you really love, that fits you well, you feel confident in and you haven’t been able to find a more sustainable, inexpensive or secondhand version of, go for it.

If I’m being honest, everything I’m wearing in that photo above is secondhand –– except for my overalls!

They’re from Target. I got them several months ago when I was looking everywhere for secondhand overalls. I looked all over the place and didn’t find any that fit, or that I liked. When I went to Target and spotted these bad boys, I fell in love. They fit great and I felt really confident in them.

So I bought them. And then I felt such guilt for buying something that wasn’t “sustainable” enough.

But I told that thought to get the heck out of here, and I’ve enjoyed wearing my overalls ever since. They’re a staple in my closet that get lots of use.

Like I said before, it’s not wrong to buy something because it makes you feel good and gives you a much needed confidence boost. But when you can reasonably make a more sustainable choice, always try to go the more sustainable route.

LOOK FOR “ORGANIC” MATERIALS

*Not necessarily certified organic materials… I’m talking materials that are plastic-free and can break down more easily in nature.

100% cotton, linen, wool, hemp, silk, jute, flax, etc. are less likely to contain microplastics, which end up in our waterways. When you’re thrift shopping, or shopping anywhere, look at the tag!

THE PROBLEM WITH MICROPLASTICS

There’s been lots of research conducted regarding microplastics that come off of clothing — especially clothing made from plastic such as polyester and acrylic.

Here are a few articles talking about the problem with microplastics:

Vox wrote an article based on a few different studies, with this one looking at how fish ingest microplastics, and this one looking at how microplastics are released from clothing.

The study “Release of synthetic microplastic plastic fibres from domestic washing machines: Effects of fabric type and washing conditions” conducted by Imogen E. Napper and Richard C. Thompson found that in a typical washer, over 700,000 fibers could be released from a 6kg (or around 13 pound) load of acrylic fabric laundry. From their study, they found some microplastics can pass through water treatment plants. They believe this could be a large reason microplastics are found in aquatic habitats.

Even “organic” clothes produce microfibers in the water system. However, more natural fibers can more easily breakdown.

While there isn’t a total consensus on whether or not fiber catchers are the best option, some studies have found that they lessen the amount of microplastics and fiber that go into waterways.

There are a few different options for these fiber catchers, but the easier one to use appears to be the Cora Ball.

The Cora Ball is a laundry ball that you toss into your load of laundry. It supposedly catches the microplastics and fibers!

The GuppyFriend is a laundry bag that does the same thing. You toss your clothes in the bag, throw the bag into the wash, and the bag supposedly catches the microplastics.

I haven’t personally used a fiber catcher before, but I would like to buy one at some point to at the very least use when I wash my polyester/plastic clothing.

I’m not sure which one is better, as I haven’t used either one. But check out reviews on both and do some research to see if you think it’s worth it!

If you don’t want to get one of those fiber catchers, here are a few other options to lessen the likelihood of microplastics getting into the waterways.

  1. Wash your clothes less often. This is simple enough!
  2. Wash your clothing in cold water. Not ideal for certain articles of clothing, but could be helpful!
  3. Buy better quality clothes that are less likely to shed significant microfibers and microplastics.
  4. Buy clothes made from cotton and other natural options. While 100% natural fibers are the best route, the study conducted by Napper and Thompson showed that even fabrics with a blend of 50-50 polyester and cotton shed significantly fewer microplastics when compared to a fully polyester or acrylic option.
  5. Buy fewer clothes.

Overall, as I always say, give yourself grace. Buy sustainably when you can. Opt for secondhand when it works for you. Remember that the most sustainable outfit is the one you already own. And most important of all, be kind to yourself and to others –– we’re all doing our best out here! 🙂

Grace and peace to you, my friends.

practical tips for loving the planet, but not being a jerk

I have a weird relationship with social media lately. I feel this pressure to constantly post, in order to have a “consistent presence,” and it’s making me fall victim to the comparison game.

I follow countless zero waste and wellness gurus on Instagram, and to be honest, many of their profiles piss me off.

I’m caught between having this sour jealousy for not being “zero waste enough” when I look at others perfectly edited Insta photos, while also having this pious internal desire to dismantle the elitist mentality that shames those who use styrofoam plates at a party.

Both sides of the spectrum are messed up. And I consistently find myself switching back and forth between the two.

I think social media can do that to us. It can interject feelings of inadequacy and then spike moments of harsh criticism towards those you find fault in.

It’s a weird thing. And I often need reminded as to why I’m limiting my waste in the first place: I really do give a heck about our planet and the people who live on it.

I believe people are meant to look after the earth — and we’ve been doing a pretty horrendous job the last several hundred years.

But I also think that living a zero waste life isn’t feasible for everybody.

Although a lot of the things I do to limit my waste are actually a LOT cheaper in the long run, for people living in significant poverty, prioritizing using less plastic over paying rent, feeding your kids and making ends meet is just asinine. And that shouldn’t be the expectation.

It’s about a balance, and making small sustainable changes. Changes that ANYBODY can make. I know I say that in just about every single one of my posts — on the blog, Instagram, or otherwise — but I really do believe that to be the case.

And lately, I need reminded more than ever that it’s ok for me to just do my best.

I’m learning that I can’t compare myself to anybody else. Simply do what you can with what you’ve been given. (Make that your mantra!) If you do that, you’re killing it, fam! Trust me :]

On a more practical note, I’ve come up with some super simple, real-life tips to help you limit your waste in a cheap, sustainable way, that also doesn’t have you coming across as an elitist jerk.

Here’s what I’ve got…..

NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT TRAVEL MUGS

You don’t gotta invest in a super expensive water bottle. Go to Walmart and buy a nice water bottle for $10-20. I’d recommend staying away from plastic if you can. Glass breaks easily, so maybe go for aluminum. That’s what I use and I love it! My coffee thermos is also aluminum. I use a HydroFlask for my water bottle and a Klean Kanteen for my thermos. Those are pricey (but they last!).

If you don’t want to invest in a good one because you don’t have an extra $40 laying around (I get it!), opt for a nicer one from Walmart or Target or your grocery store. Honestly, Dollar Tree has some quality containers too, fam.

Bringing your own coffee mug to coffee shops will almost always save you money — most places (like Starbucks) will give you 10% off for bringing your own mug in! And lots of places have water fountains… so if you’re going out to lunch and are thirsty, don’t buy a drink, just fill up your water bottle!

You’d be surprised how much money you save by not buying a disposable plastic water bottle everyday.

ASK FOR PAPER (OR ANYTHING BUT PLASTIC)

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I’ve got a maaaaaad sweet tooth. When I go to a coffee shop and there’s some sort of homemade cookie or bread in the display case, I’m most likely going to indulge.

A lot of shops will toss your treat in a plastic container. But before you order your cookie, ask if they have a paper or tissue paper bag instead. Or, if they don’t, ask if they can just put it in a napkin for you.

It’s simple and all it takes is asking a question. If you feel weird asking, I always preface it with, “hey, I’m trying to limit my plastic use…. do you happen to have paper or anything other than plastic to put my pound cake in?”

Say it with confidence and you’ll look like the dopest person around — because you are.

STOP BUYING THINGS YOU DON’T NEED

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This has been really helpful for me. For fun, I walk through Target and look at the notebooks and planners and pens because that’s my idea of a good time — no joke.

I used to not be able to leave Target without buying something — and usually that something was as dumb as yet another notebook or mascara.

But now, I try to just look around. I go in with the mindset that if it’s not plastic-free, I’m not going to buy it. And if it’s not second hand or something I really need, I’m not going to invest in it.

With that mindset, I walk around, enjoy the trendy stuff, get ideas for redecorating my apartment with my own stuff, or used items I may purchase later, and talk to the photos of Joanna Gaines as if she and I are besties. #MagnolaFarms #FixerUpper

Target is oddly soothing to me. And so is Barnes and Noble, and random, second hand bookstores.

Sometimes I do splurge and buy something random when I go into Target. Or sometimes my mom will pick me up something that isn’t plastic free, or a shirt that isn’t second hand.

When something like that is gifted to me out of so much love, I would never return it or toss it out. I’d rather get good use out of it!

But as a general rule-of-thumb, I try to keep my splurging — especially on plastic items — to a minimum. (Asking myself, “do I really need this?” is often helpful for me).

SHOP SECOND HAND

Like I just said above, I have clothes that are new that were gifted to me. But, for the most part, I try to only buy clothes second hand.

I also try to get a lot of other things that way, too. I’ve gotten people gifts by shopping at the thrift store, spent half the money I normally would, and most of the items were brand new!

There are so many hidden gems at a second hand store. If money is seriously a concern for you, shop second hand! It’s amazing!

If you shop second hand because it’s fun or trendy, there’s nothing wrong with that. But I do think it’s also important to invest in good companies, too.

Buying new items isn’t bad! In fact, investing in businesses you can really stand behind is imperative. Vote with your wallet!

Plus, it leaves more options for people who really can’t afford other pricier, eco-friendly options.

Just something to keep in mind :]

AVOID PLASTIC WHEN YOU CAN

If you buy groceries at Walmart — like I often do — you can get most of your fruits and veggies without using one of those plastic bags!

Bring a reusable bag of any sort, it can even be an old sack… and fill it up with your produce! (Just be careful it doesn’t look like you’re stealing 😂. Keep the bag in your cart and toss your produce in the bag as you stroll through each aisle).

From my understanding, there isn’t a rule about having to use those baggies at the grocery store. You can also buy little cotton bags from my friend Agnes by clicking this link, or from lots of other places.

That’s a simple way to limit your plastic use. Opt for items that come in bulk or that are in paper, glass or aluminum. It’s not that hard to do — trust me.

I’ve gotten a weeks worth of groceries for under my budget and only bought a couple of things in plastic. It’s doable! And I’m seriously broke as heck.

BE FRICKIN NICE TO OTHERS AND YOURSELF

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The comparison game is real, my friends. It ruins relationships and your overall physical and mental/emotional health. Give other people grace and give it to yourself, too.

If you’re at a party and forget to bring a reusable fork — don’t hate yourself over using a plastic one. If you really need a coffee to get through the work day, but you forgot your thermos, don’t beat yourself up over it — get the coffee, dude.

If someone buys you something in plastic, don’t be rude about it. Show empathy.

If you gave someone something wrapped in compostable paper, and they said they hate compostable stuff, it would make you feel crappy, right? (Maybe a bad comparison hahaha but I’m trying to say be others-focused!)

Just because you believe you are morally correct in not using plastic, that doesn’t give you the right to make someone else feel bad for not realizing that.

It happens. Our world is brimming with plastic — literally, have you been to the beach lately? It’ll make you sick.

It’s nearly impossible to not use plastic.

It’s about making an effort and voting with your wallet! Buy second hand, purchase eco-friendly items, make your own products, reuse reuse reuse, and most importantly, be kind.

Encouraging people to use less plastic is great! But don’t be a jerk about it. Kindness wins, fam.

zero waste party planning must-haves

Mike and I hosted a New Year’s Eve party this year and I really wanted to make sustainability a priority.

It wasn’t a huge party, but we had around 15 people. Before I went straight to the store to buy disposable items, I wrote a list to see what I needed, and if/how I could buy them secondhand.

Here are a few must-haves I thought I’d need for my sustainable party:

LINEN NAPKINS
LINEN TABLECLOTH
CUPS
PLATES
BOWLS
FLATWARE
SALSA/DIP BOWLS
SNACK CONTAINERS/TRAYS
DRINKS
FOOD/SNACKS

Once I looked at what I already had in my cupboard and rummaged through my mom’s pantry, I made a list of what I still needed and headed straight to my closest thrift shop.

CHECK OUT YOUR LOCAL SECONDHAND STOREdcb_2570

Secondhand stores can have some killer items for dirt cheap. Check out these beautiful linen napkins I found at Goodwill and another secondhand store near me! I also got the tablecloth there, too.

Finding linens at some thrift stores might be a little bit more difficult than it would be to find something simple like a gray sweater. Often the linen section isn’t well labeled, so you might have to ask an employee if/where they sell linens.

Most of these napkins were between $0.25-$1.00 per napkin.

What’s great about using linen napkins is once they get used, you simply throw them in the wash and can use them for years.

Same goes for plates, cups and flatware. I don’t have a dishwasher, which would’ve made clean-up much easier. But even so, it wasn’t too bad! A few extra minutes of labor on my end was worth it so I could use less plastic.

FOOD AND DRINK OPTIONS

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Since I’m on a pretty serious budget, when throwing a party, I ask guests to bring something along with them. I’ll usually ask them to bring a side dish or drink of some sort.

Luckily, if you’re going to have alcohol at your party, beer comes in cans and bottles, and wine and liquor usually come in glass. So that shouldn’t be a problem for you.

If you are looking for non-alcoholic drinks, consider making a large juice/punch recipe that is already pre-made when guests arrive. Also, opt for cans of pop or sparkling water rather than liters.

For food, stick with simple things. You can make a large amount of buffalo chicken dip or a vegan alternative. You can make pico de gallo for cheap or make/order pizza — who doesn’t love pizza? (AND pizza comes in a cardboard box!)

If you want to provide all the food and beverages, maybe ask everyone to bring $5-10 to contribute to the party! That way, you can ensure everything you have is plastic-free or recyclable and you won’t break your budget.

MAKE RECYCLING + COMPOSTING EASY

I made a composting and recycling sign at my party to help my friends remember what to do. Some people aren’t apt to recycle when they’re done using an aluminum can and some folks don’t think to compost their scraps if they haven’t finished their food.

It’s helpful to provide easy visuals to remind your friends and family to recycle and compost! Make it even easier by drawing a picture and writing exactly what you can/can’t recycle or compost. And draw arrows/describe where your recycling and compost bins are. I used left over brown paper bags I had from my wedding last spring and used tacks to hold them in place on the wall instead of plastic tape.

It might sound excessive, but small reminders really can make a difference!

WHAT IF I’M HAVING A HUGE PARTY THOUGH?

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Instead of opting for plastic plates and flatware, consider getting a compostable option — check out Amazon. Or sometimes Target and Walmart have some pretty decent eco-friendly options, too. Search around!

Or, if you’re having a fancier party like a wedding or bridal shower, consider renting plates and flatware from a local party rental shop. Sometimes it’s cheaper than buying your own, other times it’s more expensive.

Price out your options!

If you’re planning a wedding I have more specific ideas on the “our wedding” page — you can check that out here.

How do you plan a party zero waste style? I’d love to hear your tips!