WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
As some of you may know, I am always looking for ways to be more environmentally-friendly. I am passionate about our environment, and why shouldn’t I be? Our planet gives us everything we have sitting in front of us and even the life we have today. We need the atmosphere to breath, the rivers and lakes for water, the land to stand on, the plants to eat and filter our air. If we didn’t have one of those things, we wouldn’t be here today. This is one of the many reasons I want to protect this beautiful planet that we all call home and why I studied Environmental and Conservation Sciences in university.
I’m not perfect by any means, so I don’t want to be someone who judges, but rather someone who educates. I enjoy some luxuries that we have today. I have a beautiful home, I like to travel, and sometimes I forget my reusable grocery bags. Chatting with a dear friend, we discussed that it is overwhelming trying to be environmentally-friendly. All of the ‘green-washing’ in consumerism, raising a family while trying to remember a reusable dish, and so on. It’s hard and takes effort. So, what I try to focus on is making conscious decisions and introducing them into my life. Maybe picking one thing at a time and working on that one thing. A big turning point for me was when I was in university and had the opportunity to learn more about what happens to our waste and how we can become better consumers. I also want to live a comfortable and enjoyable life, so how can I balance this with making good decisions? Today, I am going to share with you 3 ways I shop for clothes by making conscious decisions to kinder on our environment.
SHOP FOR QUALITY AND CLASSICS
I run a guiding outfit called Uplift Adventures and need technical clothing to withstand our harsh and changing temperatures in Canada. I can’t just throw on any piece of clothing because it might actually mean survival. I spend time researching and reading about technical gear/clothing, so that I am informed. (Side note: sometimes it is my husband doing this research!) I don’t mind spending more money on an item if it means that it is going to last longer and function better. This saves me from buying multiple pieces of clothing/gear overtime and overtime it is actually BETTER ON THE WALLET. Being environmentally-friendly doesn’t always mean that you have to spend more money, in fact, it is often the opposite.
We have a local store in Crowsnest Pass called Spry and the reason I love them so much is because they offer QUALITY! Once you have vetted your sources, then you know you can continue to go back to these stores or brands and you will get that quality.
In the guiding community, Arc’teryx is a brand you will find guides wearing quite often. This is because of their quality. Even Arc’teryx believes in their product so much, they offer an amazing warranty. This brand is not cheap though, but it will last you a very, very long time.
The other thing I look for is buying CLASSICS. When I was a teenager, I didn’t think about this because I wanted to be cool and trendy. However, those trends get old real fast and you are constantly buying new clothes. Again, it’s not good on the wallet. If you can find pieces of clothes that won’t go out of style and are good quality, you will be a consumer who is making environmentally conscious decisions.
SHOP FOR CLOTHING THAT IS UPCYCLED
This is really cool! Some amazing companies are coming out with some great ways to ‘recycle’ and ‘reuse’ clothing. This is called UPCYCLING. Upcycling is taking previously made items and basically reusing/recycling them. When I lived in Edmonton, I would take my torn clothes to the Ecostation to be upcycled. Now, I live in a small town and this isn’t an easy option, but I still saved my torn clothes for when I visited the big city. However, the last time I was there, I was told that they don’t do this anymore. It really comes down to economics and whether or not it is feasible for companies to recycle, reuse or upcycle. Which can lead me to a whole other blog on recycling and why it is going out of style, but I’ll have to save that for another day.
So, who upcycles? I recently came across a company right here in Canada who is upcycling: Message Factory. This is great for multiple reasons:
- Shopping more local means less transportation and fewer fossil fuels being used to get the item to me. These clothes aren’t being shipped from across the world by a big barge on the ocean.
- Buying directly from the source can mean less packaging.
- They care! So, they won’t be placing your item(s) in plastic, wrapped by plastic, wrapped by plastic, in a cardboard box 5 times too big with bubble wrap to use up the air void. Who else has had this problem?
When they care, they educate their consumers. They want people to feel good about themselves and the way they look, but also help them make good consumer decisions. I have a few items from Message Factory and I love them. They are comfortable and stylish. The items I picked can be dressed up or dressed down, so they are multi-purpose and I love that. I even spent much of my time in Panama wearing their Noyer Top; when I was hiking (mostly at the summit when I needed to throw on a layer) and then going out to eat. Then, I wore it until I even noticed that it really needed to be washed and then I decided it was time to do laundry, and then I wore it some more.
It is great to see companies emerging who are making environmentally conscious decisions. While sometimes it can be cost-effective for you, it isn’t always easy and takes work.
SHOP AT SECOND HAND STORES
This one may be a no brainer for you when I said it. However, we don’t always think about it or think that we won’t get that quality from the store. I love shopping at second hand stores and they often have a cause too. The Women’s Resource Centre in Crowsnest Pass raises money for women, children, and families in need. That in itself is worth me shopping there. You can find some amazing finds and again it is great on the wallet! Do you ever get that feeling that you want to buy something new to feel refreshed? I get it and when I go to the Women’s Resource Center on their $10 bag days, I get a new wardrobe and I feel even better about it because it is helping a good cause.
You can really find some great items at second hand stores. The pair of rain pants that I use on my adventures cost me $5! It pays off to know what is good quality. These rain pants would have been over $100 brand new and they were basically brand new. The other great thing about knowing your products is that rain gear often just needs a good washing with some NIKWAX to re-waterproof it. Here is a great article on how to re-waterproof your rain gear:
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE NAKED
There you have it folks – 3 ways to be environmentally conscious when buying clothes. You don’t have to be naked to be environmentally-friendly! (phewf) Shopping for quality and classics will reduce the amount that you need to buy, buy from companies who upcycle, and shop at second hand stores. Making conscious decisions when buying clothes, food, or any item will make you a smart consumer and in many cases is also good for your bank account.