Saving More by Shopping?


For some people, no lack of money nor genuine concern for the environment can stop a love for clothes and shopping.  Those some people include me.  But I try to follow these tips to both save money and stay as green as possible.

First, Look for quality clothing from eco conscious companies.

If your clothes last, you will generate less waste and save more money over time.  Simple.

Companies like Patagonia and L.L. Bean also offer unconditional lifetime guarantees on their products.  So they guarantee that even though you spend a little more, your clothes will literally last forever or be replaced.  I have personally seen this from both companies.  I have returned completely disintegrated shorts to Patagonia and received replacements and have returned a completely worn out L.L. Bean backpack and received a replacement.  With both companies, they will fix the products if they can and otherwise will replace them either for free or for a small fee.

Additionally, Patagonia has begun a program to recycle all their fibers, so when your clothes are completely worn out, and you return them for new ones, rather than just throw the old clothes into the landfill, they will recycle the fibers and reuse them.

Just to clarify, neither company requires any sort of ownership proof (receipts or anything) so if you haven’t worn out the clothes and simply don’t want them or they don’t fit, make sure to pass them on to friends or even a thrift store.  Any person can take advantage of the guarantee.  Which leads me to…

Second, Buy used clothes.

Most people know this as a way to save money, but even for people who are scared or think it is dirty, follow a few simple tricks and you will be hooked.

  1. Look for names you know and trust.  So look for Patagonia labels, or L.L. Bean.  Products that were made well will last longer and will hold up to a heavy duty hot water wash.
  2. Think basics and try a lot on.  I often go into thrift stores looking for something really specific, like black pants.  I grabbed handfuls in my size, looking for labels I know.  Usually of 15 or so pairs, only one will fit correctly.  Other good thrift store finds are men’s button down shirts (often barely used), tee shirts and turtle necks, and wool blazers.  Don’t expect to find perfect jeans or other clothes that are hard to fit, even when new.
  3. Natural fibers.  Stick to cottons and wools.  They will hold up better over time and are usually easier to get a proper cleaning out of.
  4. Boil trends down to basics.  When shopping for trends, you obviously won’t find the latest designer duds, so look at trends in their simplest elements.  This fall, mustard yellow is everywhere, so look down the aisles for that color.  A basic mustard yellow tee or turtleneck mixed into your wardrobe will update what you already have.
  5. Don’t stick to the women’s (or Mens!) section.  I often wear men’s pants and kids shirts and blazers.
  6. Make sure to bring your used clothing back!  Letting someone else have a chance to wear your clothes is just as eco conscious as wearing used clothes yourself.  The longer the lifecycle, the less waste!

About the Author

Ali Church is a designer living and studying in Philadelphia.  She is one half of the duo behind see.saw, a design and aesthetics blog.  Ali is an avid gardener, runner, and shopper and hopes to one day develop a triathlon incorporating all three.

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  1. I always believe on branding things. I like this post.

  2. I stick to specific brands.. many of my friends try selling their unwanted brand name clothes on Ebay.

  3. Great post with some top advice, I prefer certain brands so just buy them off ebay or second hand stores.

  4. Excellent post, thank you. I chose a few brands, and now only buy them.

  5. Living within our means tends to drive us toward the lower end of the purchasing scale, yet it is often the items that cost twice as much (or more) that will last five times longer. If only we had a crystal ball to know how long an item would last!

      • Pays to Live Green
      • September 6th, 2009

      I agree Global Patriot. It’s so hard sometimes to decide if spending more money on a product is actually going to increase the life or will just cost you more money. Even if we do diligent research on a product, who’s to say that it doesn’t last as long as it is supposed to. Sometimes we have to make our best judgment and buy items that we think will last longer.

  6. There are certain things that are cheaper for me to buy there (ie frozen food items, some cleaning supplies, spices and/or paper products). Other than that the packages are too large for me and I end up wasting product.

  7. if you buy only things you use a lot of then you save a ton, but if for example you buy a huge thing of mayo and only use a tiny bit, then you waste the rest. it really all depends on what size family you have etc.

  1. September 1st, 2009
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