Whether you are ready to start making an impact, but are unsure where to start or just need a quick refresher, check out our guide filled with tips and tricks to make your shopping behavior more sustainable, fun, and rewarding.

1. Don’t buy...


Probably not the answer that you’re looking for. But yup, it can be that simple. As Westerners, we’re so used to consumer culture that the threshold to buying something new is almost nonexistent. You probably recognize the short-term excitement that comes with a purchase, for it to slowly but surely fade away into just another item in your wardrobe. In the long term, this buying pattern is an unfulfilling process that results in us collectively buying way more than we actually need. So next time you’re thinking about buying something, just ask yourself: do I really need it? If you don’t, you’ll save money and the production impact on the environment.

Sometimes you can find real treasures in your own closet. Clean out your closet from time to time and you'll soon notice that there are garments you didn't know you had. Who knows, when combined with a nice accessory you might find a whole new look.

When you’re considering a purchase, sleeping on it for a night can really help you to evaluate whether you actually need it. Brands can toy with you by pretending that the offer is scarcer than it actually is to make you make up your mind at the moment. If you recognize yourself in a consumption pattern like this, consider reading a good book, blog or documentary on minimalism or fast fashion. Once the concept clicks it can be liberating to refrain from buying.

2. Buy second-hand


Second-hand clothing is cheaper and the most environmentally friendly thing you can buy after not buying. We have a bunch of cool local shops that provide you with second-hand options. Not only do you support your locals by buying at local thrift or vintage shops, but you also eliminate the need for packaging and shipping like you do on secondhand shopping platforms like Vinted. Use our shopping guide to find lovely second hand stores!

3. Buy from sustainable brands


If you need to buy something new, you’re going to have to make a choice between brands. There is a vast difference between how brands produce their clothing. Supply chains can be long, complex and harmful to the environment, people and animals. We research fashion brands so you can make a choice that’s in line with your values. Use our shopping guide to filter brands based on your sustainability preferences, style and budget. Read the brand screening and check the local points of sale to discover the brands in real life!

4. Buy for life


Low prices can be seductive. But almost always, a low price is too good to be true. Especially in the fashion industry, the environmental disastrous and unethical costs are paid elsewhere in the world and the quality is often so low that the garments end up in the trash in no time. Sustainable denim companies like Nudie Jeans offer repairs for life. Patagonia offers ironclad guarantees and MUD Jeans offers the option to lease a pair of jeans. Designer Iris Nijenhuis enables you to modularly repair and expand your jewelry alongside your evolving style and needs. And Lennertson uses a Goodyear welt on their shoes so you can replace the soles whenever it’s necessary. By spending your money wisely at these companies you make it a one-time purchase and avoid the need to buy something new a few months after the last purchase.

5. Buy smart


If you’re hopping on the hype bandwagon every now and then for the latest trends you’re probably also wearing the garment until it goes out of style. While you could of course bring or sell the garment to a second-hand shop again, you could also opt for a smarter wardrobe. We’re not saying you have to dress boring. But having a good and durable set of basics in your wardrobe goes a very long way. You can combine timeless and basic pieces with everything and make sure that you can always make new combinations within the same wardrobe.

Another way to learn how to put together pieces from your wardrobe is to hire a stylist. For example, the Ethical Fashion Stylist offers wardrobe sessions. Iconic Wardrobe is a clothes rental shop, where you can rent luxury and sustainable brands, and also get advice on how to create a smarter wardrobe. Join De Duurzame Gids (The Sustainable Guide) for an educational tour of local shops to learn all about sustainable clothing, zero waste products and how to make more conscious choices that are good for people and the environment. Check out B.Right to follow a self-directed course or to get a one-on-one session. Thaís Britta is an ethical fashion stylist based in Antwerp.

6. Repair


There’s no need to buy something new if there’s something slightly off. Some brands offer repairs for free or for a small fee. But you yourself or your local tailor can easily do this as well. So if you really love the garment or just want to extend its lifetime it’s time to get to work! Did you know at COSH! we also listed 30 repair shops in Amsterdam? You can find them here.

Sashiko is a Japanese way to repair jeans that not only strengthens the jeans but also celebrates the repair by showing the treat. We think it’s really cool to not only repair your garment but to also celebrate what you’ve done to make it unique and your own. You can for example patch holes with iron-on or sew-on patches, change a button for a different (and better) one, or whatever else you can think of! With a little creativity a little wear and tear won’t be a nuisance anymore, but an opportunity to revive your wardrobe! If you like to repair your own clothes, you can follow a workshop at De Steek. For more information about diy and repairing clothes you can read our blog.

7. Rent


All options in this list so far include some form of buying. When we need something our first reflex when it comes to fashion is to simply buy something. But have you ever considered the possibility of renting? Lena’s Library has a point system in place that whenever you rent something it simply subtracts points. This makes sure you can change your wardrobe frequently without buying anything at all! Or just ask a friend to borrow something the old-fashioned way!

8. Trade


Donating the clothing you’re not wearing anymore to charity is a controversial subject. So what are you going to do with it? Swap it of course! Where you might not wear it anymore, you shouldn’t underestimate the value clothing still has. You can go to the Swapshop in Rotterdam or Amsterdam, bring your clothes and pick something new directly or later on. But you can also organize a clothing swap with friends and directly trade with each other. It’s a fun activity where everyone walks away with some room in their wardrobe or some nice extras.

Bonus tip: if you don’t want to sell or trade old clothing, another option is to store them for a few years. Trends often make a comeback and when they do you, or maybe your children, have a cool ace up your sleeve!

Conclusion

There you go. Now you know there are many different options for you to choose between when you're considering new clothes. Use these tips to save yourself some cash, reduce your impact and enjoy the process.