The Rise of the Eco-Friendly Shopper
In today’s world, people are thinking a bit more about how their shopping habits impact the planet that we all live on. Businesses have picked up on this and it’s now getting easier by the day to shop in an eco-friendly, sustainable manner. There are hundreds of new choices providing great alternatives to fast fashion, single use plastics and some of the other big hitters. Shoppers no longer need to sacrifice their style, comfort or personal preferences in order to be a conscientious consumer. Listed below are some of the biggest booms happening in shopping right now around the sustainability movement.
Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Brands
There is a pervasive image of the eco-friendly clothing brand as selling only shapeless, hand-knitted clothing in bright colours and smelling strongly of patchouli. Whereas this style does still hold its place in the market, the concept of eco-friendly clothing has come on in leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades. Some of the biggest high-street brands in the world, like H&M, now have eco-conscious lines within their main collections, and break-out brands such as People Tree and Thought Clothing are growing exponentially. The industry has caught on to the fact that today’s biggest consumers of fashion want to know where their clothing is made, what it’s made from and how this all affects the planet.
Outside of fashion, customers are also making different choices around other shopping habits: cruelty-free cosmetics that contain no nasty chemicals, sustainable options for cotton buds, tissues and face wipes, and plastic-free food wrapping, to name just a few. Supermarkets and global brands, like P&G and Unilever, are starting to change the way they do business in order to meet consumers’ demands for more accountability and more eco-friendly practices.
Of course, one big change that has taken place in the way that people shop over the past few years is the introduction of accessible, affordable online shopping. The growth of portals like eBay has matched the demand for product availability on the internet, including everything from books to groceries to clothing. The internet has opened up a whole new world beyond the high street; you can now connect with distant friends over Talky, test your brain power at SkyVegas, watch your favourite shows on Mubi and even manage your money on PayPal. The online world truly is your oyster.
But how is this eco-friendly? Well, shopping online means that you’re not using a car or other transport to travel to a physical shop; it also means that, instead of hundreds of separate shops using up light, heat, and space, all products are stored in one warehouse. It’s easier to produce a wider range of sustainable product options online, rather than trialling them in physical stores, and the online shopping supply chain, in theory, generates less waste than traditional brick-and-mortar stores. So, alongside being a much more convenient option, online shopping can also help the planet, so long as you bear in mind where it is you’re shopping from.
Vintage, Second-Hand and Charity Shops
Depending on where you are in the world, there will be a different culture around shopping for second-hand or vintage clothing and accessories. In the UK, there is a strong culture of shopping for offbeat and unique pieces of clothing, homeware and other commodities in charity shops; this is a great eco-friendly option as it reuses items that would otherwise go to landfill and reduces demand for newly made products. Plus, customers can often pick up a bargain shopping in this way.
However, not every country has such a wealth of charity shops to choose from. Most places will have somewhere to buy second-hand or vintage items, whether that be pricier antiques or older stock at a cheaper price, but it might be for profit rather than charity.
With the rise of online marketplaces like eBay, Depop and Etsy, owners of physical shopfronts are cottoning on to the fact that the desire for second-hand items is increasing alongside the movement towards sustainability and eco-friendly shopping.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The main point of eco-friendly shopping is to reduce the amount of consumption, reuse items rather than throwing them away, and recycle that which has outlived its original purpose. This may not seem like a concept that is geared up towards supporting the retail industry, but it simply requires a change in outlook to make the most of it.
Consumerism always evolves in direct correlation to the environment is exists within, and businesses are already utilizing this new trend to keep their customers happy and their companies flourishing. The craze for conscientious consumerism is likely here to stay and therefore it is wise for retail giants to act now and go with the flow, rather than making changes that are too little, too late.