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Shoppers are becoming more environmentally aware that ever before, which means tossing the fast fashion for ethical, sustainable and fair trade clothing.
Meet Charlotte Okten a Photographer from London who has ditched the old way of shopping and moved to a more conscious mode of consuming, why and how did she do this? Let’s get to it, Charlotte who goes by the name of cococolour on Insta, has not only changed the way she buys her clothes but also moved into more sustainable behaviours and cut back on waste on her day to day life. Time to take note and pull my socks up i think!
How has your view on fashion changed and how have your shopping habits changed?
For a while I’ve thought about how I live my life and the impact that I have on the environment, and while I've been doing things such as shopping plastic free in local stores; taking the Eurostar instead of flying; using a guppy friend when I wash synthetics; I hadn’t properly thought about the impact I was making through my actual clothing choices until this year. So I started looking at these carefully and built in some criteria so that I’m making more conscious choices with my clothing too.
I have a few things I now consider when I’m thinking of buying new clothes:
“I look at what I already own, as this is always the most sustainable 'collection' of clothing! Secondhand, secondhand, secondhand.
By shopping secondhand you are saving clothing from landfill.”
When I buy new it needs to be something I absolutely love or have a real need for. I’ve started asking myself
"will I wear this at least 30 times?” to figure out if something is worth adding to my wardrobe. It's eye-opening how many things I won't look at again after asking myself this question honestly!
“I'll also look at what it’s made from, where and by who. There are so many smaller, interesting consciously designed brands out there.”
Has it been easy or difficult to make the transition?
Both actually. While I have had a big period of shopping new items online and returning sometimes the same day, I’m a long-time second hand thrifter, having grown up on a diet of charity shops and car boot sales. There’s so many great places to shop and sell secondhand online now and you can find beautifully made designer pieces for so much less. I like using Vestiaire Collective, HEWI (Hardly Ever Worn It), Rebelle, Depop, The Real Real and eBay (of course).
The key thing I'd say is work out your style and find what designs work for you before you buy secondhand online. Also always check measurements as there are usually quite restrictive return policies in place.
What I've found harder is finding ethical/ sustainable brands to buy new from. 'Sustainability' has become a word that's used in many contexts which often have different meanings, but don't be disheartened - there are some brilliant companies making great clothes with so much thought and effort that's been put into minimising their environmental footprint. I think it's important to work out what aspects of sustainability matter to you and find brands which are focused on the same.
Do you find there’s a difference in quality now you’re shopping ethical brands?
Yes, I think when more natural and less resource intensive materials are used, and clothing is designed to be worn again and again, there is a difference in quality to those clothes that are made without these considerations.
What does sustainability mean to you?
It means minimising environmental impact by putting people and the planet before profit.
Do you think you will stick to this new way of shopping?
I hope so. I’m not perfect and it's not realistic to expect that anyone can stick to a way of shopping 100% of the time. However now I know how to make more positive choices in the way I shop for clothes, and I know this approach works for me (it may not for everyone), this really is something I want to continue.