5 eco-conscious questions to ask yourself before buying something new

Eshita buying clothes
Credit: Noor & Zee

In partnership with E.ON

We all have impulsive habits - and for many, buying new clothes is a big one. Online fast fashion outlets mean it's never been easier to make purchases with just a few clicks - without having the time to consider whether we really need that new top or jacket. 

But, thankfully, many consumers are choosing to turn away from mindless consumption – by making small changes that force them to stop and think before buying new clothes. 

If you want to do your bit for the planet, here are the top 5 eco-conscious questions to consider before buying something new:

Credit: Getty

1. Do I really love or need this item?

This is a hard one - because we all know how easy it is to convince ourselves that buying that 80s power suit will make us nail that job interview. But before tapping your card, it might be worth reflecting on whether buying that item will provide the value you’re looking for.

Do you really love this item, and why? Do you need it, and why? Will you take proper care of it? Will it make you any happier?

Giving these questions some thought will enable you to determine what you truly value and what purchases are worthwhile - and save you some money too.

Credit: Getty

2. What material is the item made of?

Before making a purchase, try to determine whether the materials used to make the item are sustainable. Be mindful of buying clothing made from synthetic materials, as they release microplastics which contaminate our waterways when washed. 

It's also essential that you consider where the garment will end up once you're done with it - as textile waste is one of the most environmentally destructive aspects of fast fashion. We recommend prioritising clothes made from natural fabrics such as cotton, hemp or bamboo. They’re biodegradable, so can be disposed of safely once the end of their cycle is reached.

3. Does the price really add up?

If you spot a cute dress being sold online for very cheap and it feels too good to be true, it’s often because it is. Sustainable materials and clothes tend to be fairly pricey because they're harder to manufacture and need to meet higher standards. Adversely, cheaper clothing is often made from less environmentally conscious – even potentially harmful – materials and are often produced with little thought given to the carbon footprint involved in their production and transportation. 

So next time you see a suspiciously cheap top or jacket, try to consider why you're paying so little for it.

4. Is it a responsible brand?

It can be hard to tell which brands are truly sticking to their ethical guns by purchasing from sustainable suppliers. The next time you're about to buy from a brand, make sure you do your research and read up on their values. A big red flag is any brand that fails to disclose information about their materials or manufacturing - as ethically conscious brands tend to be upfront about these processes. 

Credit: Noor & Zee

5. Can I find a second-hand version of this item?

Another question to consider is whether you can access the item you’re looking for without buying at all. Rental platforms such as ByRotation have created more environmentally friendly ways of shopping by letting members lend and rent designer clothes online – helping reduce the need for new products to be made. By joining these communities, you can help steer the conversation away from a demand for new and towards embracing the old.

Feeling inspired to shop more sustainably? See more of Marie Claire and E.ON’s Change Maker series where we speak to the incredible Eshita Kabra-Davies, doing what she can to shake up the world of sustainability. And be sure to visit E.ON, where you'll find more inspirational stories from people who are taking action for climate. 

Niamh McCollum

Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she's covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.

Niamh has also contributed to our Women Who Win series by interviewing ridiculously inspiring females, including forensic scientist Ruth Morgan, Labour MP Stella Creasy and ITV’s former Home Affairs Editor Jennifer Nadel.

Niamh studied Law in Trinity College Dublin. It was after enrolling in a Law & Literature class on her year abroad in Toronto that her love of writing was reignited. In no particular order, her big likes are Caleb Followill, hoops, red wine, sea swimming, shakshuka and long train journeys.