I’ve really been trying to make more eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable choices when it comes to my clothing but I have to be honest, I’ve found it really challenging. There are so many people online who share tips and show you how to do it, and it sounds great. They’re often really enthusiastic and make it seem so accessible; but I’ve found in reality, it’s a lot trickier. I hate to be negative with this post, but I just find that sometimes the people online talking about these things can be so full on that people watching can become disillusioned. So I just wanted to share some of my struggles in the hope that people can relate. These set backs don’t mean I’m going to stop trying but we need to be realistic with what real options people have.
One option is shopping in charity (or thrift) shops. Now, in the United States, I can see this being a viable option because the thrift stores are so big and have a large variety of sizes. However, in Ireland, second hand shops can be very small and I often have a lot of trouble finding anything I like, let alone anything that fits. I went to 3 different shops a few days ago and literally didn’t fit 1 thing that I vaguely liked that would fit. I do plan to do more research and see what vintage shops Dublin has to offer to see if I have better luck with them, but currently, the idea of only buying clothes in charity shops is just not an option if I want to like what I’m wearing.
Another suggestion people put forward to reduce the amount of clothes you’re buying is to do a clothing swap with friends. Now, maybe I’m alone in this, but my friends are all very different sizes and have very different styles. I could probably swap/share some items of clothing with one or two friends, but that’s about it. I can imagine if you’re in any way bigger than the majority of your friends, this idea would sound really horrific. Another option is to simply reduce the amount that you buy. If you have to buy something from fast fashion, at least make sure you’re shopping smartly. I have had more luck with this one and am really trying to curate a wardrobe that I love and wear. I have also tried to invest a little bit more in the pieces I’m buying.
I have also been trying to find sustainable brands that I like. They’re great when you find a good one, but there are downsides. They tend to be more expensive, have limited sizing and have far less options. Also, living in Ireland, I generally have to order online, and the shipping and returns can be expensive. However, I have found a few shops that I like. The top and leggings in these photos are from ENA Apparel (the top is available here, I don’t think the leggings are available at the moment but there is a flared version here). They are sustainable and eco-friendly, but unfortunately they don’t ship outside the United States. I bought the socks I’m wearing in the first photo in an eco friendly shop in Copenhagen called EcoEgo. Two other eco-friendly brands that I’ve found that I love are Miakoda, who do loungewear and are based in New York, and Monkee Genes, who make jeans and are based in the UK.
As I said at the start, I don’t want this post to be all negative. Every little change can help, and at this point, we just need to make sure we’re having the conversations. But I think we need to acknowledge that some people don’t have the same amount of access to more sustainable and ethical options, whether that’s due to their location, size or financial situation. In particular, it strikes me that I’m a size 12-14 and I struggle with most of these options, so I can imagine if you’re even a bit bigger, you would really have a hard time finding any kind of sustainable option. Hopefully as the movement gains more popularity and people become more aware, we’ll see an increase in options.