Sustainable Shopping

Carolyn Lagattuta

Photo by Cat Klein, taken on February 17, 2014, Some rights reserved,

What does it mean to be sustainable? The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a government agency assigned with environmental protection matters, best explains sustainability. 

“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment,” the EPA continues. “To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”

There are three core “pillars” that strengthen the philosophy and social science of sustainability: economic development, social development and environmental protection. Social development is about protecting people’s health and wellness as well as teaching them about environmental protection to ensure the safety of future generations. Economic development is, while seen as the most issue-prone due to constant political feuding, about the current supply and demand market and giving people their wants and needs without jeopardizing the developing quality of life. Lastly, environmental protection is combined with developing technology/biotechnology to encourage sustainability. 

“Sustainability is not just about the environment, it’s also about our health as a society in ensuring that no people or areas of life suffer as a result of environmental legislation, and it’s also about examining the longer-term effects of the actions humanity takes and asking questions about how it may be improved,” Environmental explains.

We must educate ourselves on the industry and the impact on the environment including topics such as water and marine pollution, air pollution, waste in landfills, rainforest deconstruction, gas emissions, etc. 

According to The Conscious Club, “Sixty percent of all clothing is thrown out within a year of being manufactured, and that adds up to a lot of climate-changing pollution.” (This website provides many extra resources and statistics concerning these issues so be sure to check them out!)

However, the blame isn’t always in the hands of the corporation because of overproduction, overconsumption is a massive contributor as well and shouldn’t be excused/ignored. Also, when there is still a demand when the company is in it for the money, it’s easier to stop overconsumption than telling an unethical brand to discontinue its actions.

Overconsumption is not excusable if you claim you cannot afford much because the clothes don’t last long and ultimately wind up being thrown out.

Alternative solutions can be searching for sustainable brands (this website allows you to discover how ethical your favorite stores/brands are), thrifting, DIY or repurposing old clothing. When you don’t want certain clothing anymore, consider donating, selling or giving it to a family member or friend rather than throwing it away! It should also be mentioned that although it is preferable to use these alternative solutions, it is completely understandable if you cannot always use them because it can be hard to find cute/trendy clothing. 

According to Environmental, “It is estimated that we use about 40% more resources every year than we can put back.” This is inexcusable and needs to be addressed immediately. As enjoyable as it is to shop for ourselves regardless of the harmful effects, how far is too far?