by Alice Lambert
The start of a new year always brings a desire to change up our lives or start a new hobby. While often these goals focus more on ourselves, perhaps for 2024, attention could be given to a more global issue: the environment.
Incorporating environmentally friendly practices into daily life can feel challenging and fruitless, but there are small ways and practices that can help us to reduce our impact on the environment.
If your resolution is to be more sustainable, read ahead for ways we can reduce our impact on the environment with just our shopping habits.
1. Stop and Think:
One of the easiest ways to change our shopping habits is to firstly question how much we need an item.
Is it an unnecessary purchase? Am I just trying to follow a micro-trend from TikTok?
Questioning the purchase can lead to avoiding buying items that we don’t want and end up throwing away quickly.
However, if it is an item that we need, spend a bit of time thinking, or even researching to see if there is a way to purchase this item in a more sustainable way, such as shampoo bars instead of plastic bottles or reusable cotton pads instead of one-use options.
2. Zero-Waste Shops and Refillable's:
Zero-waste shops help customers eradicate the need to waste packaging by encouraging us to bring the same containers to fill up on general bulk items, including cleaning products and whole foods.
There are estimated to be around 200 in the UK, so although not always the most accessible option, they can be a great choice to support more sustainable shopping if there is one in your local area.
If there are no zero-waste shops near you, finding individual items that offer refillable services is also a way to reduce the environmental impact of packaging.
Delivery services, such as Modern Milkman, offer waste-free alternatives to products like dis soap and surface cleaner, as well as classic food options such as milk and bread and even sodas.
Refillable items can be found across a multitude of products from specific brands too. From deodorant (Wild) to cosmetics (ZAO) to skincare (Necessary Good); more brands are finding ways to create products that don’t require the purchase of new packaging every time.
3. Curate a Capsule Wardrobe:
Despite the economic benefits of the fashion industry, its production processes account for "10% of humanity’s carbon emissions," depleting water resources, polluted rivers and streams, and filled landfill sites, as noted by the Geneva Environment Network.
These problems are further perpetuated by the way we consume fast fashion, with a focus on following quick trends leading to clothes that 'go out-of-style' quicker than they arrived.
Choosing quality pieces of clothing or creating a capsule wardrobe is one way of combating fast fashion trends.
Although a trend itself, capsule wardrobes focus on finding clothing items that have a timeless quality and can be consistently re-worn, rather than following micro-trends. This, in turn, helps to reduce waste sent to landfill.
4. Shop Second-Hand:
Vintage enthusiasts, rejoice! Opting for second-hand platforms like Depop, Vinted, and eBay, or choosing to patronise local charity shops, are excellent ways to support sustainable shopping, fostering a cycle of purchased and repurposed items.
These shopping practices are not only economically friendly but also offer a commendable means of parting with old clothes, thereby reducing environmental impact.
If you’re a fast fashion addict at heart, many major brands, like Patagonia and COS, are also incorporating in-house resale shops, allowing pre-loved garments to be returned and resold directly through the brand.
5. Support Sustainable Brands:
One of the easiest ways to practise sustainable shopping is to choose to purchase from brands that promote sustainability.
Although it might require a bit of research, nearly all our day-to-day items can be procured through specific brands that focus on environmental sustainability.
These brands also tend to have practices and incentives that support social and ethical responsibility, such as charitable donations or offering fair wages for workers.
Here we have curated a list of some brands to look at in 2024 for more sustainable shopping:
KAYLL is a fusion of designer Jessica Kayll’s love of travel with her hand-painted textile design. There carefully curated approach to their production means that nearly zero material is left over, and their brand also focuses on using renewable energy, eco-friendly packaging and paying a fair, living wage offers sustainable and slow-fashion that still retains its luxurious quality. All of KALL’s prints are painted by Jessica, in her London studio, taking months of painting and design development before being finalised.
YesFriends is a clothing brand committed to creating ethical and sustainable fashion that doesn’t break the bank. They are looking to combat the issue of high-price points among sustainable clothing by offering affordable clothing items, whilst ensuing sustainable practices at all points in the production process. Just some of their efforts to create sustainable and ethical brand include the use of solar-powered factories, organic Fairtrade cotton and an innovative bonus scheme for garment workers.
Serran, a London-based outerwear company, specializes in coat making, knitwear, and leather accessories with bespoke options for both men and women. All products are designed and produced in-house at Serran's workshops in London. This approach enables the brand to maintain ethical production practices, promote environmental friendliness, achieve cost-effectiveness, and allocate more time for experimental research and development.
As seen on Dragon’s Den, Fussy deodorant is one of the UK’s favourite refillable deodorants. The product comes in a refillable plastic case which is both made from recycled plastic and is 100% recyclable, and the refills are home compostable. The product itself contains a science-backed probiotic formula meaning you can be feeling fresh without the negative environmental impact.
In the UK alone, charity shops receive over 300,000,000 unique garments annually. To combat waste from unsold products, Thriftify sources second-hand clothing from charity shops and offers them for sale online.
Leveraging innovative digital technology, Thriftify empowers the world's most ethical organisations to spearhead the sustainable shopping movement.
The brand facilitates charity shops in easily listing goods online, connecting stores that normally wouldn’t reach beyond their local high street to millions of consumers like us.
Wild Fawn Jewellery
London-based jewellery brand Wild Fawn was founded in 2015 and looks to create beautiful ethically handmade pieces, with eco-friendly methods, recycled metal, and plastic free packaging. Their jewellery is designed to last and is handmade in London by a female led team. As well as a collection of beautiful earrings, necklaces and rings, Wild Fawn also has the opportunity for customs to create their own bespoke pieces
Another brand committed to creating affordable and accessible sustainable products are Smol, a refillable cleaning product company. They offer a range of cleaning accessories from laundry tablets to washing-up liquid, that are all refillable and delivered in compostable and recyclable packaging. Their brand focuses on reducing carbon emissions and eradicating harmful chemicals being washed into waterways all through an easy-to-use service that delivers the products right to your door at a reasonable price.
Edited by Emily Duff