cheerful asian female customer standing among hanging clothes in store and smiling

Is Sustainable Shopping is Just for the Rich? Three Places to Find Affordable Sustainable Fashion Choices

When I started my eco-friendly journey, I focused on the things that were right in front of me. That meant ridding my house of plastic wrap, and any single-use plastic, turning to shampoo bars and the like, and switching to recycled or bamboo toilet paper. Though it took me a long time to switch over completely (and I still have plastic food containers), it was the easy part. Next came the fashion, and fuck, I’m having a hard time finding some suitable options that won’t break the bank.

I’m not one to thrift. I can’t stand not knowing who wore my clothes before me and what they did in them. It’s a mental thing that I just won’t get over, so I’m not trying. Thrifting is touted as the best way to dress sustainably, but it’s not for everyone. Besides, someone has to keep buying clothes to donate to the thrift stores, right?

I started out by staying away from as much fast fashion as I could. I never learned my lesson from buying Forever21 clothing items, and kept sheepishly going back, thinking that maybe the cheap fabric would last more than one washing and actually fit me. I’d wonder if I could buy things from Urban Outfitters, lusting after their $3 tops that I could wear under blazers for work or lounging around the house. I was still in my 20s and feeling pretty damn broke, so I didn’t have too many options, anyhow.

Eventually, I kicked the habit and do my best to only buy clothing items that are made to last. That means a higher price point, but less pieces. Quality over quantity. But, I was still looking for some more options, some more sustainable fashion brands that would be perfect additions to my closet. Turns out, you gotta be rich to shop sustainably, at least for workwear. Sort of.

A frustrating realization, I wasn’t sure if I was going to have enough discipline to shop sustainably. I loved finding great deals and buying new, and exciting, clothing. Most of my shoes are nowhere near sustainable, but it’s one thing at a time, right? If we all start demanding more from companies, eventually, it won’t be out of the norm for companies to produce better made, sustainably sourced fashion. It will just be the every day. And, there are a few affordable options out there, you just have to dig. Like, really dig.

There are lots of companies that make loungewear and activewear sustainable options, which is great, but what happens if you want to take that sustainability into workwear and evening duds? Here are my favourites that are suitable for when you’re out of the mountains, the couch, or off the mat:

This Quebec department store is right up there with The Bay. I love it and can always, always find some good stuff at a decent price. Even sustainably sourced clothing! They have a whole sustainable section on their website, labeled Vision, that is full of great items for fashion, and your home. Some pieces may be a little pricier than others (mainly anything that isn’t a t-shirt), and some pieces may be more eco-friendky than others, but if you’re looking for some great pieces, this is a great place to start. Plus, their sales are amazing.

H&M is changing their reputation, pushing themselves from the fast fashion brand they’re known as, and towards a better company for the future. Shop their Conscious label that is growing with new styles all the time. I remember when the only Conscious item you could get at H&M was a basic tshirt. There are so many great choices, like this super fun sequin dress made from recycled polyester at only $30! Is it 100% sustainable and perfect? No, but it’s way better than similar styles, and it’s a step in the right direction.

H&M also has a garment recycling program that has actually been in effect since 2013! And, yet, I’m just hearing about it! Drop your old clothes off at the retailer and they’ll send it over to their business partner I:CO to sort into second-hand wearables, reusables or recycling! You can also drop off any brand, Annandale you’ll get a 15% off coupon for your next purchase! Dope, right?

Armour Vert
I just stumbled upon this website after reading about it on someone’s blog. I haven’t bought anything from it yet, but I absolutely can’t wait to. It’s much more expensive than the other two options above, but their clothes are gorgeous and they give a breakdown on just how sustainable each garment is. So, if you’ve the money and want to go as sustainable as you can in your fashion choices, this looks like one of the best options out there, short of wearing a hemp mumu everywhere. Maybe just take the hemp love to this beautiful blazer, instead.

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