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Sustainable Style – Why I’m doing a no/low buy in 2020

January 15, 2020 5 Comments

The topic of conscious consumerism is really coming to the forefront in 2020 – and it’s about time. It’s hard to be a fashion lover, knowing the dire impact it has on the environment.

2019 was really the year that I drastically changed my shopping habits. I’d like to say it was because I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint, but the reality is that I was saving money for my wedding. This proved to be the catalyst that made me take a good, hard look at my purchases. I shopped far less than I normally would have…and realized I didn’t miss the perceived joy from a new pair of shoes as much as I expected to.

Concurrent to this, I also started to learn more about the devastating impact of fast fashion. If you want a good, quick overview you should watch The Ugly Truth of Fast Fashion episode on Hasan Minhaj’s Patriot Act. If you have a little more time, you can read Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline.

For those who know me well, you know that I would not describe myself has having a lot of self-restraint. I travel well and comfortably, I still eat meat, and unabashedly enjoy the finer things in life. However, I do think that as a privileged citizen residing in a developed country, I can easily live a life with more balance. I can make simple changes, that will make a positive difference.

One of these changes is doing a no/low buy. What does this mean? Well it’s different for everyone. For me the “no buy” means I’m cutting out buying any newly manufactured clothing. The “low buy” means that if I do want to add to my wardrobe, I’ll shop vintage or secondhand as infrequently as possible. I’m going to try it for four months, and reassess from there.

Here are some strategies I’ve put into place to help me stick to my plan:

Minimize temptation

The most helpful place to start, is to eliminate temptation from the get go. This includes:

  • Unsubscribe from all email marketing. I did this at the end of December, and am shocked at how few emails I have to check now! I’ve saved so much time. When I used click through, but avoided making a purchase, I still ended up wasting so much time scrolling – often looking at hundreds of products I knew I didn’t need.
  • Avoid stores completely. Shops are specifically designed by retailers to tempt you into making a purchase, so it’s best just not to go in at all. This is harder to do, especially if you work in a city centre. If you’re used to stopping into shops on your lunch break or commute home (me!), do something else. I’ve found a new path to walk, or will go to the library instead.
  • Unfollow influencers who do hauls, or try to sell you trends. They make it so easy to purchase by including links to products, or using LikeToKnowIt. Instead, follow sustainable style influencers, or capsule wardrobe accounts. One of my absolute favourites is Audrey Coyne 🙂
  • I truly LOVE fashion, and can’t live without style content. I’ve been looking through old issues of fashion magazines online (through the library app!) – there’s no temptation to purchase because the products are not on the market anymore. Instead, I find inspiration for how I can style what I already own. This is something I’ve always done (because I often can’t afford the products in magazines), and is especially helpful during a no/low buy!

Tell a friend

The easiest way to stay accountable to any goal is to tell someone. Especially someone you care about, and who cares about you. The easiest way to stick to a no/low buy is to tell someone you care about, who you also share a bank account with 😀 I’ve told my husband, who will definitely know if I break my rules 😀

Set up an automatic savings transfer

I’ve had one of these set up for a long time, but I recently increased it. I’ve left myself with less disposable income to play around with, so it would be hard to make frivolous purchases even if I wanted to.

Think about your purchase for 24 hours

This will help in the “low buy” part of my plan. Giving myself the freedom to shop secondhand and vintage flings the doors wide open to the beautiful world of recommerce. More on this in another post. I adore vintage shopping, so to curb my spending I will try to instil a waiting period before I let myself buy something. I often stumble across something GORGEOUS on ThredUp, and feel like I absolutely need it. But sometimes after letting it sit in my cart for a day, I’m able to resist. That means the purchases I do make are beloved, and I get so much use out of them.

I hope this post was helpful for any of you starting to dip into the world of conscious consumerism and sustainable style. I’m planning on expanding this series, and would love to know any questions you have so that I can do some research and explore more!

Thank you so much for reading xox

P.S. The dress I’m wearing in this post is vintage – it’s actually from a movie wardrobe sale!


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  • Lillian January 15, 2020 at 8:17 pm

    Great tips.

    • jocelyncaithness January 18, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks, mommy!

  • Laura Yousif January 17, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    These are great tips!! You got this 🙂

    • jocelyncaithness January 18, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      Thanks boo!

  • […] I started this year off with a low/no buy, and shared my strategies for how I was planning to stick to it in this post. […]

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    About Me

    About Me

    Hi, Friend!

    I'm Jocelyn: a daydreamer and fashion lover disguised as a finance professional. My head may be in the clouds, but my stilettos are firmly planted on the ground ;)

    Jocelyn Caithness

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