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Sustainable Sundays: Sustainability on the High Street & on a Budget

Happy Sunday folks! It's been a wee while since I posted my last Sustainable Sundays post so I thought it was high-time I got back into the sustainability rhythm. So, sustainable homeware and fashion is great right but sometimes the price can be terrifying. Buying sustainable items can be a shock to the system as you tend to pay a lot more money for even basic pieces because of the effort that has gone into the growing, harvesting, and manufacturing of the items. They're not jacked out at rapid pace from an underpaid and ethically-deprived sweatshop and that means that the lack of mass production can reflect a rise in price and the materials are produced with a mindful eye on the pollution production can cause etc.

This is often something that can be off-putting for many and I'd certainly include myself in that group as it took me a long time to want to invest in clothing (in particular) that I was buying as throwaway fashion's convenience, change of pace, and ability to satisfy any and all of my tastes was more appealing. Nowadays I'd much rather buy second hand or buy from a brand that I can see are doing good for the planet and it's inhabitants, but I'm well aware that buying sustainable fashion is often a luxury that many can't invest in no matter how much they want to. That's why today I'd share some potentially hidden gems on the physical and virtual high streets that you may not immediately think of when you think of sustainable shopping but boy oh boy, do they do their bit to help look after Mother Nature.

H&M Conscious Line & Recycle Scheme
First up, let's talk about one of my favourite high street brands back from when I shopped fast fashion readily. H&M are a global brand who are taking steps in the right direction to be mindful of fashion ending up in landfill, the effect fast fashion production is having on the environment and on climate change. There's two great aspects to H&M that you can utilise when shopping in an attempt to be more sustainable with your choices and that is their Conscious concept/line and their recycling scheme. Whether it's homeware or fashion you're shopping for, the Conscious line at H&M is across the board. Conscious focuses on using natural/organic material in its products and is available in both men and women's lines as well as children's! They are labelled with a green "Conscious" label in stores and have their own searchable category online on H&M's site so you can easily find what products and items are sustainable and which ones aren't.

Another great thing about H&M is that they have a recycle scheme that I feel not many people know about. If you ever have a clear out of your clothing and for whatever reason you don't eBay it or take it to your local charity shop/shelter etc., take it along to your local H&M store instead. The store actively accept bags of no-longer wanted textiles (no matter what brand or condition the items are in), which will then be recycled to produce new items of clothing. By recycling clothing, less natural resources are needed to create new pieces and it stops clothing end up in landfill which is extremely harmful for the environment. Not only is it a good scheme to take part in just because of the benefits it has on the environment, but H&M also hand out vouchers when you donate textiles to this scheme so it's a win/win for you.

Oxfam x Marks & Spencer Clothes Exchange
This next one isn't about buying sustainable but more like just getting involved in sustainable fashion and reaping the benefits. If you take any clothing donations into Oxfam and at least one item is from M&S, you will be given a £5 voucher to spend in M&S. You must use this voucher in the same calendar month as you received it and it can only be used on a minimum spend of £35 on clothing, home, or beauty, but it's a fab little incentive that encourages donations and recycling clothes via charity shops which helps you save a little on future spending.

Nobody's Child
Next up is a brand I really love. Nobody's Child are a great brand who are available on Asos and Topshop as well as their own site and they always have their tagline "fast fashion with a conscience" at the forefront of the publicity. Although Nobody's Child does identify as a fast fashion brand, they are a brand who also work hard to minimise waste by keeping the whole production process of their clothing contained to their own factories which makes them a much more environmentally-friendly brand than most. If you're a fan of this brand, you will notice that their items tend to sell out or go out of stock quite quickly (particularly on their own site) and this has a lot to do with not creating a ridiculous amount of items for the consumer market that is then not consumed. They are taking a conscious approach and taking steps to improve fast fashion and attitudes towards it.

ASOS Eco Edit & Recycled Items
Next up, I need to mention the fashion giant that is ASOS. As an old ASOS VIP member, I used to buy something from the site almost on a weekly basis and I know I'm not the only one. ASOS is extremely popular not only for it's own brand items, but the wide selection of other brands, the convenient postage and returns, and it's reward schemes for being a regular buyer. But ASOS are not all bad and actually have a few things which help this fast fashion heavyweight be more sustainable. Firstly is their Eco Edit. The ASOS Eco Edit is a collection of all the items available on the site that are eco-friendly and/or made with organic materials/resources. It not only included clothing but also beauty products that meet the criteria too.

Since 2O16, ASOS have worked with Doddle and TRAID to recycle clothing for good too. TRAID are a charity which tries to prevent clothing going to landfill and aim to repurpose or redirect clothing to charity shops nationwide. Working with ASOS and Doddle, TRAID will take your unwanted but wearable clothes and footwear and redistribute them to charity shops and all you have to do is drop them off at your local Doddle store and Doddle will make sure they take care of the rest! Not only that, but over the next two years, ASOS have agreed to increase the amount of post-consumer recycled materials that are used to make their clothes and they are also committed to eliminating any clothes which cannot be recycled from their supply chain. They have also signed up to a commitment alongside 1Oos of other brands to be more consumer-conscious and have vowed to introduce a garment collection recycle scheme like H&M and M&S already practice.

Bohemia are a brand I've featured in my fashion posts before (see here, here, here - phew - and here!) and since purchasing my first straw tote from them, I have purchased all sorts from their site from Moroccan slippers to homeware embroidered pots. Bohemia are a great independent brand who work closely with their suppliers and are proud to be 1Oo% artisan and are strong believers in maintaining positive human relationships despite being a business. I'm mentioning these guys here because they are a Scottish-based brand but are very on-trend without the true suppliers missing out. The ever-popular straw bag trend of last summer seems to be having a revamp for spring 2O18, but rather than buying from Topshop or ASOS where the item has been mass-produced, potentially in an underpaid and overworked sweatshop factory, why not spend the same money on a brand who bring genuine items from genuine craftspeople who have ethically produced the items in comfortable and fair conditions.

Overall Thoughts on Sustainability on the High Street
Think about how much we all love the sales when it comes to fashion - we can get some absolute bargains but next time you're celebrating your spoils, try thinking about why so many items ended up in that sale. It's usually because they weren't popular when they were full price - they weren't worth your money when they were full price. A cut in the price can convince all of us to then purchase something but just think *how* many garments may have been created to meet the consumer market. If a product or garment has been popular thanks to bloggers and influencers for example then that's fine - a brand will make their money on sales when every size goes out of stock and the consumerist ways has worked like magic, but when items haven't had the desired "sell out" effect, that's when they get plopped into the sales in a last ditch attempt to get rid of them. Think about what happens to those things that can be shifted even in the sales and that's why any opportunity to shop more sustainably is welcomed in my opinion! Again, this isn't me suggesting anyone feels bad for purchasing or enjoying what they do, but shopping more sustainable - particularly when it comes to fashion - will have a small but undoubtedly positive effect on the planet in many different ways and your items should last you longer due to the good materials and resources that have gone into them. Sustainable items are out there, it's just a matter of trying your best to seek them out.

Although we all get sucked into various high street stores because they're ultimately convenient and at our disposal, with the internet at our finger tips, searching for sustainable fashion can be easier than you think. Somewhere that is great to effectively search for sustainable fashion is Etsy. Simply searching "sustainable clothing" will present you with hundreds of hits that you can then browse through and filter to just the UK or a particular kind of item. Shopping for sustainable fashion can be a little extra effort, but it's more than do-able and certainly has it's benefits.

142 brands recently signed to be part of the 2O2O Circular Fashion System Commitment which promises to make the processes of their production more sustainable in the next two years. Brands such as ASOS, M&S, Pull & Bear, and Zara are all taking part and it's fab to see the fast fashion industry taking some responsibility for their waste and impact on our planet by helping cut down fashion waste and putting more garment collection options for recycling clothing in place. A full report of this 2O2O Circular Fashion System Commitment is due to be released in May which details what each brand has promised to do and each brand's individual movement to more sustainability and less fashion waste. I'm excited to see what this Commitment brings and so happy to see so many brands joining it from the fast fashion realm.

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