Natalia Vodianova modelling the H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection

Conscious consuming is very much in vogue

I have in my room, a beautiful wooden lounger with sleek curves and a perfectly arched back that is completely unusable due of the mountainous pile of clothes atop it. Poignant evidence that I have not been a responsible shopper. I need to make a change. I think we all do. For when a single pair of jeans can cost just $9 yet take more than 6,814 litres of water to produce, it would seem the environmental and social ramifications of reckless spending are too great to ignore. The good news is that by simply tweaking our buying behaviour, we wield power to make a significant change, and making a move towards a more sustainable way of consuming can be as simple as following a few rules.

Spend More, Buy Less
The age-old rule of quality over quantity stands true in sustainable shopping, because if you buy well, you need only buy once. Look for sound garments made of well-stitched, durable fabrics that can handle a lot of wear and the washing that comes with it. Be sure to steer clear of trends too, think about the classics and build up a staple wardrobe. Remember, timeless never tires.

Take Care of Your Clothes
To shop less, you need to look after what you already have. Resoling shoes before they reach unwearable, mending clothes before a pull becomes a hole, dry cleaning the pieces that demand it and hand washing the delicate ones that don’t. It’s like Aretha said, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Go Local
In a beautiful butterfly effect, shopping locally-produced fashions help to reduce the impact on the environment in many ways. Cutting down on transportation, packaging and the fuels associated with both, it also supports workers within our shores, and what’s more, nourishes the creativity of our homegrown designers.

Kick it Old School
People are reluctant to toss high-fashion pieces, so many make it into the secondhand circuit. For that reason, why not take a stroll through some of the vintage boutiques or designer consignment websites? With Lanvin, Issey Miyake, Chanel and the likes tumbling off the racks at Auckland’s Scotties Boutique alone, the thrill is in the hunt.

Get Educated
There are countless ways to make better buying choices, even beginning with where to shop. H&M’s recent Conscious Exclusive Collection uses fabrics made from recycled materials for an artful demonstration of environmentally- friendly elegance. Likewise, the release of the Ethical Fashion Guide, showing which brands are skewed towards sustainability, allows us to make more ecologically sound style investments. By shopping responsibly we reduce the demand for fast, trend-driven fashions and one day, ultimately their production. It’s a change that has to be consumer-driven, one that starts with us.

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