Zero Waste & Eco Friendly Shopping Options

reading time: 5 min

Hello friends,

I'm back with another Zero Waste blog post! Less than two years ago I would be considered a shopaholic. Not because of the frequency I went shopping, but rather because of the amount I got and because of the high I got from getting new pretty things. I still get that feeling when I go second hand shopping. But now it's a way more conscious and minimalist process. I will let you in on my new shopping guidelines in a minute.

When you look at the outfits I post on my blog you will probably notice three things:

1) most of my clothing items are from H&M
2) most of my clothing items are old
3) the rest is thrifted

The reason for that is simple. Firstly, I used to be a total victim of cheap clothes, sales, and trends. The thing with cheap clothes is – they come at a price. Which is why, secondly, I stopped buying from sweatshops such as H&M about a year ago. 

However, I don't see why I should throw away my old clothes – hence the huge amount of old H&M stuff in my closet. 

What's the alternative?

We've become so accustomed to poorly made synthetic clothing from exploited countries with horrible working conditions, and impulse buying from sales racks. It's time to start thinking about your wardrobe differently. 

To avoid further supporting these fast fashion shops I usually go second hand shopping / thrifting for my clothes now, and many of the items there are from brands such as H&M, Esprit, Zara, Nike etc. Since I won't contribute my money to these brands, I'm not supporting fast fashion and its environmental impact any more. Plus, you don't produce any additional waste, but instead make use of something that's already out there. Guilt-free shopping for the win! :)

Therefore, second hand shopping is not only a great alternative in ethical terms, but ecologically friendly as well. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure literally!

Here are my typical sustainable shopping sources:


Starting with my least favourite (because it's the most time-consuming and exhausting): flea markets. It's a lot of running around and digging for stuff, but it's also where you will find the most unique pieces at a ridiculously low price. At least in here Germany you usually pay 1 to 3 Euros per clothing item. Plus, vintage and "shabby chic" things are always in style! The only downside: you can't try on the clothes.


While I do prefer to try on clothes to see how they fit, I love to use eBay for anything that I can't find in any of the local second hand shops or flea markets. If you're lucky, you can get clothing items for as little as 1 to 5 Euros. The downside: You have to pay for the shipping (not zero waste because of the shipping supplies), and you can't try on the clothes.


My go-to shopping possibility is usually a second hand shop, thrift store, or charity shop. I love these because they a) have relatively low prices, b) have both trendy and vintage items, c) offer fitting rooms, and d) often support a good cause. To me, it's pretty much the same feeling as going shopping in a regular store, except I feel much better because I know I'm not contributing to extra waste.


Before I go and look for clothes in thrift stores or on eBay, I usually ask my family and friends if they own a similar item and don't need it anymore. This might seem weird at first, but oftentimes people have things in their wardrobe they don't actually wear or like anymore, and are happy to give it somebody who enjoy them more! And whenever I have something I want to get rid of, I will always ask my family and friends if they could make some use of it :)


Now this is something I haven't actually done yet, but attending or hosting a clothing swap party or a garage sale with your friends and neighbors sounds like such a fun thing to do! That way you will either "pay" for clothes by trading your own, or you might even make some bucks by selling a couple of sorted out items.

Guideline to Zero Waste & Eco Friendly Shopping

  • Make a list of items you need before heading to a thrift shop.
  • Set yourself a certain budget, e.g. 50 bucks.
  • Bring along water (in a reusable bottle) and snacks on your thrifting trip.
  • Wear clothes that are easy to take on and off, e.g. comfy pants, slip on shoes, and a loose shirt.
  • Choose quality over quantity (maybe limit yourself to a certain colour palette, such as neutrals, pastels, or monochrome).
  • Take photos of yourself in the items.
  • Ask yourself: Does this piece of clothing make me happy? Does it fit me properly? If its "the best thing ever", go get it. If its just "alright", don't.
  • If you are unsure about a certain item of clothing, go home without it. If you still find yourself thinking about it a day or two later, go get it.
  • Make sure the piece of clothing will work with at least 2 other pieces in your closet. Or picture several occasion you will wear it on.
  • Prefer regionally produced or handmade fashion.
  • Make your own clothes! E.g. knitted headbands, cute tank tops from old T shirts, strapless dress from oversized shirt, batik dyed pants, harness bra...
  • Donate, give away or sell the clothes you no longer want to keep.
  • Repair anything that's too good to throw away.
  • Remember to bring a reusable bag with you when second hand shopping too so you can refuse their bags 🙂

Do you go thrift shopping? 
Share your experiences and tips in the comments below!

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How to Declutter your Wardrobe