Green Shopping: 7 Strategies To Save Your Wallet & The Environment - Smart Money Seed


Green Shopping: 7 Strategies To Save Your Wallet & The Environment

Hey, Squad. Alex here. This week's post comes from my amazingly intelligent and beautiful fiancé, Amanda! Amanda is currently finishing up her Master's degree in fashion and retail studies with focuses in body image and sustainability, so if I'd say it's a pretty good idea for us to all listen up!

Amanda included some referral links for the awesome money saving platforms she wrote about. If you want to give them a shot, use her links so she gets a little extra bonus from each company! Trust me, it won't negatively affect you in the slightest.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics American households spend around $1800 per year on clothing items and accessories. I’m sure for some of you that number is even more. Not only are we spending a significant chunk of our income buying clothes, we’re also creating a huge amount of waste getting rid of them.

On average, Americans throw away around 70 lbs of textiles, including clothing, shoes, and accessories, every year! We’re buying clothing just to throw it away, which doesn’t make sense (or cents.. I’m funny right? Right. Moving on). This pattern doesn’t just hurt your wallet, it hurts the environment.

So what can you do to solve these problems? Follow these tips I’ve come up with to help save your wallet and the earth!

1. Use coupons in stores and online.

Gone are the days of spending time pouring through mailers and newspapers clipping coupons that you end up stashing away in a folder and never actually remember to use (Be sure to recycle those, by the way!). Most retailers now offer digital coupons or promo codes, which make it easy to store your coupons on your phone or computer.

The convenience doesn’t stop there, though! There are plenty of online platforms that actually do the coupon searching for you! Some of my favorites include Honey, RetailMenot, and UNiDAYS. I’ll go a little more in depth with each one.

Honey: Honey is a browsing extension that you can download for free. Once you download the extension and sign up for an account, Honey searches the web for coupons and promo codes that it automatically adds to your online purchases if applicable! They’re affiliated with over 30,000 retailers, so there are plenty of opportunities to save some money when using Honey.

They even offer Honey Gold, which is like their own “cashback” system. When they’re given commission for a purchase made through their extension, they share the love and give you points which eventually translate into free online gift cards to use with some of their larger affiliated retailers – think Nordstrom, Target, and Amazon.

If you want to sign up, you can use my referral link here.

Click the button to save some money with Honey!
Isn't their mascot the CUTEST????
RetailMeNot: If you’re online shopping and want to double check if the retailer you’re shopping at has any available coupon codes, check yourself on RetailMeNot! Simply type the retailer into their search engine and see what deals pop up. I personally think their best deals are their gift card deals. They list retailers who are offering discounts on their gift cards, which means you could end up paying less than $20 for a $25 gift card to your favorite store and then use even more discount codes once you get the gift card - double savings!

RetailMeNot also offers an app, so you can easily browse and get notifications for the latest deals on your phone. They offer in-store only printable coupons, as well, for those of you not interested in online shopping!

Sign up here.

UNiDAYS: This platform is perfect for broke college students like me! Like the other two platforms, UNiDAYS also lists retailer coupon codes and special discounts that can be applied to purchases. However, what makes them so special is that they specifically target college students and collaborate with tons of brands that you love for exclusive discount offers that you can’t find anywhere else!

After signing up with a university email account, you can begin to explore their thousands of deals from brands like Adidas, Levi’s, and MissGuided and apply them yourself while you’re online shopping.

Sign up using my referral link here.

2. Don’t be afraid to give your email away.

If you’re checking out an online store for the first time, look to see if they have a first-time buyer discount! Most stores from Forever 21 to Levi’s to Tobi offer either a percentage or dollar amount off of your first order if you give them your email.

Don’t let this scare you away! If you think you’ll shop at this retailer again and don’t want to be spammed with a ton of emails, I suggest creating an email account specifically for email offers! Many retailers offer email exclusive deals and early discounts for their subscribed shoppers, so it’s a good idea to stay on their email lists.

On the other hand, if you decide you’re not totally into their style, simply opt out of their emails after you’ve already made your first purchase and saved your money. You’re not really creating any junk here except junk mail (GUYS. I know. I’ll stop), so feel free to sign up for all of the email subscriptions you want without worrying about the environment!

3. Shop at off-price stores.

Stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Sierra Trading Post are great ways to save some money and the environment! Yes, these are all owned by the same company, but I absolutely love their business model.

There are a few different ways that these stores buy including the following: they buy clothing from deals between stores and manufacturers that fell through or were cancelled, they buy overstock when manufacturers produce too much, and they purchase end-of-season merchandise from other retailers. This is good for your wallet because these off-price stores are able to purchase their product cheaply and sell it to you for much less than traditional retail price.

Even better, this is good for the environment because these stores are purchasing clothing that could otherwise be thrown away or burned, and they’re producing less waste in the long run by purchasing only pre-produced items! Be sure to use a reusable shopping bag to cut down on your environmental impact, as well.

4. Buy used.

When it comes to clothes shopping, I see this is the absolute best option to save money and the earth! Check out thrift stores, consignment stores, or anywhere else they sell used clothing. At these stores, you can buy used and sometimes new clothing for a fraction of traditional retail price.

Current fashion trends include vintage Levi’s jeans, denim jackets, and oversized t-shirts, and you can find all of these items at thrift stores, such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. I’ve personally found vintage Levi’s jeans for $3 a pair! Most used clothing stores offer special discount days, too, such as 10% off all items with yellow tickets, and they tend to offer student discounts with a valid ID.

If you’re more interested in current clothing, shop at stores like Plato’s Closet or Buffalo Exchange. When you buy used, you’re ultimately helping to reduce your carbon footprint, pollution, and waste!

5. Rent clothing, or borrow it!

Many people abide by the unspoken rule that you can’t wear a dress twice. Please, BREAK THAT RULE for the sake of your wallet and the environment! But if you just can’t bring yourself to wear something more than once, consider renting it instead of purchasing it.

One of my favorite rental sites is Rent The Runway, which allows you to rent moderately priced clothing and even designer gowns for cheap. Rental periods start at 4 days, so you have plenty of time to receive your rental and return it. Rentals include a garment in two sizes AND a backup selection in case things don’t work out with your first choice.
See, you can rent this $398 Kate Spade dress for $60!
They’ve now begun offering monthly rental subscriptions, so you can rent your favorite pieces and swap them out for a fresh wardrobe at the end of the month. If you’re not interested in renting clothing, ask your friends or family to borrow something of theirs instead!

6. Shop a sale or clearance.

Sales are clearly a great way to save some money while shopping, but you shouldn’t go overboard. Let me explain.

Retailers spend their money to buy clothing, increase the price, and sell it to you for more to make a profit. For instance, your favorite clothing store buys a t-shirt that costs $5 to produce, which means that the t-shirt is ultimately worth $5. They have to increase the price to get the shirt to you and make some money, so they sell the shirt for $12. The markup retail price of $12 allows room for customers to make returns and for the retailer to hold sales throughout the year.

They mark the price up knowing that they will still make enough money off of it at sale price! This is why you should wait for a sale if you can and why I rarely buy anything at full price.

I should leave you with an even more important piece of advice, though. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale! Sometimes we get into the spirit of bargain hunting and take it a little too far, buying things that we don’t need and likely won’t wear just because it’s cheaper than normal. Don’t give into that mindset! Buy only what you truly like and need because sale prices add up, and so does the pile of unworn clothing in your closet - that you’re going to recycle or donate. Really drilling this saving the environment thing in your head.

7. Most importantly, stop buying so much!

It’s as simple as that. Sorry to be harsh, but over shopping is absolutely horrible for the environment and your wallet. Here’s how to start!

I suggest looking through your closet to get a sense of your personal style. If you don’t like anything you own, turn to Pinterest for some style inspiration. Once you’ve decided on how you want to dress, your second step is to decide what it is you need to buy to create that personal style and the look you want.Write down a list of items you want to buy to complete your look. List in hand, go ahead and do some shopping.

Be mindful of what you’re buying, though! Sometimes, a $200 dress is a better deal than a $25 dress. If you want a staple black dress that you can wear more than just a couple of times, consider practicing investment dressing. Spending more can be worth it because the more expensive, classic option is likely to be higher quality and will stay in style for much longer. A $25 dress worn 2 times puts you at $12.50 per wear, but a $200 dress worn 25 times puts you at $8 per wear. It becomes the more affordable option!

After you’ve developed a staple wardrobe, simply buy a few trendier items per season to keep it up-to-date. Investment dressing significantly reduces the amount of clothing waste you create, so can look great and feel great about your environmental impact!

I hope that you’re able to incorporate one or two or maybe even all of these tips into your shopping! If you have any other tips, be sure to leave a comment and let me know how you save money while you’re shopping because, as mentioned above, I am a poor college student who needs all the help she can get!

One tip Amanda forgot to include is to always bring
your pack mule when shopping. You can accessorize
pack mules with any clothing and bags you'd like, and
they'll even usually put away the clothes you don't want!
*Disclaimer - I haven't always lived a green lifestyle
(plastic bags, fast fashion, etc.), but I'm doing my
 best to live that way now! Baby steps, people! - Amanda*

In all seriousness, I know this blog is focused on saving you some coin, but I’m focused on saving the earth. So even if you don’t follow my tips for green shopping to save money, please please PLEASE start to think about how your everyday actions, like using a reusable shopping bag vs. a plastic bag or donating/recycling an old pair of shoes vs. throwing it away, can positively impact the environment!


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