As you may be aware from previous posts (like this one and this one), I’ve recently been thinking a whole lot about consumerism, what I’m buying and the way I’m buying. As I’ve touched on several times, I’d love to be a Capsule Wardrobe Girl (Anna and Rebecca, I’m looking at you) but I know it’s just not for me. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t be more mindful when it comes to shopping, and I’m going to share with you the ways in which I’m hoping to achieve this.
Matt and I are saving for our first home, and I am trying to cut back spending in various ways. My disposable income is unfortunately not unlimited (wouldn’t that be great?) I’m very conscious that over the past few years I’ve spent way more than I should have, mainly because I was so wrapped up in the world of consumerism. I also want to be more mindful of the environment, and how my shopping in the past may have had an affect on this. This post was originally centred around clothing, however it now filters out into lots of areas of my purchasing, and I hope it may inspire you to shop differently too. Warning: it’s a long one!
*these photos were taken last weekend during a woodland walk with Matthew, they have pretty much nothing to do with the post! Yes, we wore almost matching tops and yes, he’s the cutest thing I ever did see, my heart can’t take it*
Buying Sustainable Fabrics. This is a complete minefield of a topic and one I’m going to delve into in more detail in its own post over the next few weeks. To keep it somewhat short and sweet, I want to cut down on buying man-made, bad-for-the-environment fabrics. The two I’m staying away from most actively are Polyester and Acrylic. Unfortunately, I do not have the budget to completely cut these fabrics out of every item I buy, so I’m looking to cut this down to buying items with smaller fabric content of each of these fabrics. It may not be perfect, but it’s a start, and it’s something we all can do. I wasn’t aware until very recently, that when you wash clothing items made with Acrylic (among other man-made fabrics), teeny tiny particles are sent into the water system, that then end up in the ocean. I was so surprised finding this out, it just wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind.
Limit Plastic Usage/Purchasing. Okay so we’re all very familiar with those Blue Planet scenes, and as a result we have become a plastic-hating nation. Plastic isn’t necessarily the problem, however the way we dispose of it is. Matt and I always recycle, as do our families, which I have thought was a small step in the right direction. What I didn’t know was that actually so many household items (even water bottles!) cannot be recycled and end up in landfill sites. I think we all could be more aware of plastics in our environment, and do what we can to limit or completely cut out our plastic usage, especially when it comes to single-use plastics. When I go food shopping, I have a plethora of re-usable bags in my boot (M&S ones are the best – they’re lined and zip up, so they keep food cold for so long) so I never need to purchase a plastic one-use carrier bag. I have canvas totes I now take clothes shopping, and I try not to buy bottled drinks when I’m out, and opt for cans instead. I also found out recently that Starbucks’ takeaway cups are not recyclable, as they’re coated inside with polyethylene, which is not biodegradable, so I’m going to aim to carry a reusable cup when possible. I realise these are all small things but I’m excited to introduce more changes into my day-to-day life, and I think if all of us play a very small part it can make a very big difference. I definitely slip up from time to time, but I think educating ourselves on these kind of topics will hopefully be the stepping stone to begin making our planet a better place for us, and our animals, to live.
Buying Better Quality Items. I now take a quality over quantity approach to my wardrobe and beauty stash as I’m becoming more aware of what it means to live sustainably. Purchasing better quality items generally means they will last longer, wash better and in turn you get more wear out of them. For me, I’ve found I use and appreciate what I have more, therefore decreasing the desire to buy my thirteenth grey jumper. I am taking care of items I buy more than ever before – I even invested in a ‘sweater comb’, check me out – and I feel that I appreciate what I have more than I ever did before. I’ve always been a high-end beauty lover, however there are some fantastic products available in the drugstore that are eco-friendly. I think it’s very important to clarify that ‘better quality’ does not necessarily translate to ‘higher prices’ – yes, some items will be more costly, however the cost per wear/use can justify this to some extent.
Identifying ‘Wants’ From ‘Needs’. Okay, I can admit that the second a new eyeshadow palette is released I’m the first one to say I need it. In reality, I use one or two matte brown eyeshadows on a daily basis, have just thrown away/donated fourteen eyeshadow palettes that I no longer used or required, and I definitely do not ‘need’ it. In the world of beauty consumerism we’re all so used to, this is a very hard pill to swallow, and I feel like acknowledging the difference between wanting or needing an item has been a learning curve for me. I used to think I ‘needed’ a new outfit for every evening out. As soon as a restaurant was booked for date night, I’d head straight to the Topshop to buy a new outfit. Now, I can confidently shop my wardrobes for situations like this, and let’s be honest, Matt couldn’t care less what I’m wearing! If, however, Matt and I decide to book a ski trip to the French Alps (between my arthritis and his twice-dislocated knee this is highly unlikely) then I would need a whole new outfit, as surprisingly I don’t have a spare ski suit knocking about.
Operating a One In/One Out Policy. I touched on this in my wardrobe declutter post, however this is something that I know will make a huge difference to my wardrobe. I’ve still got a few items to purchase for the Autumn season, and when Winter rolls around there will be a few new additions, but other than that I’m very happy with what I have. As and when I want to purchase a new item that isn’t a ‘necessity’ for the season, I’m going to ensure I get rid of something I already have to make way for the new piece. I know this will mean I’ll end up with a carefully curated selection of pieces I love, as I’m going to struggle donating or selling something that I enjoy wearing. This will also reduce the need for decluttering, and it can be something done between seasons only – I have the space to store everything I have for Autumn/Winter together, then Summer/Spring together – so this means roughly every six months I can review on a much smaller scale.
Buying Basics. I already do this around 90% of the time, but I’d like to do it as much as possible. I’m steering away from fast fashion in as many ways as I can, and buying the new It item is something I definitely do not need to partake in. I am a neutrals girl through and through; I love blacks, greys, whites, beige and navy. It’s something that my friends have laughed at for years, because it makes me a little bit boring, but hey if it works for me and I get better use out of each item, I’d say it’s nothing to sniff at! I have also noticed any clothing that is heavily patterned (stripes being an exception, obviously) is something I tend to not wear as much. I love how polka dots and florals look, but realistically I know if I buy too many patterned items a) they can’t be worn with too many options, and b) it’s very obvious this is a piece I’m wearing over and over again. Buying basic items – plain designs, neutrals, classic pieces etc – means it’s much easier to mix and match, and get more from my wardrobe.
Taking Advantage of Discount Codes. It doesn’t take a genius to tell you it’s better to buy something when you can pay less than full price, however I am very impatient and before my spending detox began, I’d think nothing of placing a £100+ order on my favourite website just because I wanted the items ASAP, instead of waiting for the next offer to come around. I even used to pay for next day delivery without a second thought because I was so impatient! There are some brands I love, but will only shop when there’s 20% off – for example, Whistles – as I can’t justify spending full price no matter how much I love the items. It makes sense to shop during sales, and with Black Friday coming up I’d highly recommend holding off on any larger purchases – whether that’s for yourself or someone on your Christmas list!
Using up Beauty Products. I am pretty embarrassed to admit that I would think nothing of having five primers, four mascaras and three cleansers on the go at any one time. I had no respect for what I was using, how much I was using, or the price these items cost. Using up all of the products I had already opened was a huge eye opener for me. Don’t get me wrong, there are some exceptions to this – for example, I like to use various perfumes throughout the weeks/months, I change up my foundation now and then, and I do enjoy a variation of makeup products like lipsticks, eyeshadows etc. As any regular readers will know, I live between my house and my boyfriends, (have I mentioned that?!) so I often have two of the same products open at once – such as shaving foam, a body butter etc, however these are being used and loved on a near daily basis, and are not being wasted. I know which brands/products/scents I like – especially for toiletries, and I’m making a promise to myself not to buy the Next New Thing on the market, just because it’s been raved about all over the Internet. As and when one thing is used up, I can then purchase whatever I like going forward, but the need to have so much stuff is no longer there for me.
Keep up with the Kardashian’s on TV, but don’t try to keep up with the Jones’. The age-old saying of keeping up with the Jones’ couldn’t be more applicable in today’s society. Vloggers, bloggers and social media influencers are constantly posting clothing hauls, make-up hauls and PO box openings. We live in a world where teenagers are expecting to get Gucci bags for Christmas, for goodness’ sake! The world of luxury living is more accessible than ever, or so we think. Through your laptop screen it may seem that your favourite blogger is living the life because they have luxury goods coming out the wazoo, however you do not have to emulate their life onto yours. The reality is the big social media stars make a lot of money, and to them buying a three grand handbag is most likely the same, contextually, as us mere mortals heading to Topshop and paying £30. I have been guilty of feeling like I needed to have the new product releases, the newest It clothing item of the season (yes, I am talking about that Zara bag) but in reality that is not true. Your stuff does not define you, and there is no need to feel obliged to purchase on the same level as people you see on social media. Also, it’s worth noting that so many of the big bloggers and influencers are gifted lots of items – beauty products, clothes, shoes, even mattresses these days – that is amazing for them and they work hard for it, but it is not relatable to those of us in a regular 9-5 job.
Loving and Using What I Have. This is the main goal from changing the way I shop; I want to feel content with the items I have, and to fully love and appreciate each item. I’ve always been a very grateful person, however this never transpired into my shopping – buying thing after thing just because is fine for some people, but it’s no longer something I want to be a part of. The reality is haul videos/posts are going nowhere – people will always love to watch them, myself included, however I do fully believe we all need to be a little more conscious of our environment and the effect we are having on it. Living a less consumer-based lifestyle is not for everyone, but it’s a journey I’m looking forward to experiencing, and (little) step by (little) step I hope I can achieve my goals.
Thank you so much for reading, I’d love to know if this post gave you a little food for thought? Do you try to implement any of these ways of thinking into your shopping habits? Do you have any tips for me?!