As you probably know, I am trying to make little changes in my life since I found out that we would need two and a half earths if every human on this planet had the same lifestyle as me. I am still finding this very shocking – and in order to remedy that unpleasant feeling I am constantly thinking about new ways to cut back on all the stuff that makes our climate go down the drain. One obvious area to go green very easily is “shopping” – thanks to thousands of blogs, Instagram channels, shops and magazines that have dedicated themselves to sustainable fashion and sustainable products in general.
Oh, by the way: I have gotten the hint from a friend that I need to make it clear that this text contains advertising (although this blog is not commercial). So be prepared, because I am going to advertise all over the place in this post.
1. Buy used stuff
The most simple rule for sustainable shopping is: think twice if you really need the thing you are about to buy and, if you really need it, if you need to buy it new. Last December my 5-year-old smartphone died, so I really needed a new one – or rather: another one. I wanted to buy an iPhone, but due to the ridiculous prices for new iPhones and the fact, that the raw materiales used to make our smartphones work are provided through child labour in the Congo, I decided to buy a used one. There are a couple of stores selling professionally refurbished phones; I bought mine at refurbed and I can really recommend this store. The phone arrived quickly, it was as good as new and I only paid a fraction of the original price. I honestly think I am never going to buy technical gadgets that are new ever again.
2. If you can’t help it: buy new stuff responsibly
There are sooo many cool brands that sell sustainable clothes or accessories. I am not a big shopper, but once in a while it really makes me happy to buy something new. As this year’s new year’s resolution I decided to not buy “regular” brands anymore and to familiarize myself with the brands I am intending to buy stuff from. So far, here are my recommendations:
Matt & Nat
Matt & Nat is a Canadian vegan brand that experiments with different recycled materials and uses recycled plastic bottles to produce the linings for their bags. And as if this was not enough, the bags, wallets, belts and shoes they produce are extraordinarily beautiful. I already own a backpack and I recently added what I found out to be a “diaper bag” to my collection. I hereby confirm that this bag can, instead of diapers, also be used for carrying a laptop, a lunch-box, a coffee-to-go-mug and books.
Hessnatur has been around since 1976 and considers itself as a “slow fashion” brand. At hessnatur the clothes are produced using mostly natural fibers, without any chlorine bleach and optical brighteners and just a minimal percentage of spandex. On top of that, hessnatur produces fair and transparent along the entire supply chain. While a few years ago the clothes were still…let’s say a little too “alternative”, today they are getting more modern and fashionable. In Frankfurt we have a hessnature-store right at the city center and I recently bought a very nice summer dress there.
“Blutsgeschwister” is German for “blood siblings”. The label was founded in 2001 and is part of the fairwear-foundation. They produce very colorful, “girly” clothes under fair and sustainable conditions, as proven in the CSR-report that you can download on their website. I bought my first Blutsgeschwister-item – a beautifully designed leggings – at the quarterly sale at the Heyne Fabrik in Offenbach and I have been wearing it to Yoga-sessions very proudly ever since.
It so awesome to see that so many people already are wearing Veja-sneakers! Rarely one day passes when I don’t see someone sporting those cool shoes. A few weeks ago a young girl tapped me on the shoulder on the escalator and said smiling: “Cool shoes, I have the same ones!” – and that totally made my day. In case you are wondering what I am talking about: the guys from Veja are producing vegan shoes under sustainable circumstances that not only look good, but are also very comfy. You can listen to their story here. I bought my pair a few months ago in Frankfurt at Mina.
3. Feed the (re)cycle
You can help to get the second-hand-cycle going by giving away the stuff you don’t need or want anymore. I have gotten into the habit of “cleaning out my stuff” at least once a quarter – every time with a different focus: clothes, books, stuff for decorating the apartment, accessories or even food. Since I don’t want to throw anything into the trash (unless it really cannot be used by anyone else anymore) I usually try to think of ways to give the things I don’t need anymore a second life. Besides giving clothes to second-hand-stores, Oxfam or stores like Luise 34 in Offenbach where poor people can buy clothes and furniture for very little money, I put a lot of stuff on Facebook into the closed group for our neighborhood. For example, I am offering books I am not gonna read anymore (or a second time) for free to be picked up at my place or also alcoholic beverages that people gave me as a well-meant present (to the great delight of the young students in my neighborhood…). It really gives me a good feeling to know that somebody else can make use of the things I don’t need anymore.
What are your rules for shopping sustainably? I am always looking for new brands to check out or products to test – so let me know!