Why We Should Buy Less and Buy Local

In 2022, it’s really no secret that limiting your purchases of new clothing items and supporting local and ethically made brands is the most sustainable way to become a more conscious consumer.


Kira Barker

2/2/2022 4 min read

Key Points
  • In Australia we throw away 31 kilos of clothing per person annually and an easy way to overcome this issue is to buy less clothing in the first place.

  • The best way to buy less clothing is to simply follow the three Rs: reuse, reduce and recycle the clothing you already own.

  • If you do need to purchase new clothing, try opting for items from ethical brands that are locally made.

In 2022, it’s really no secret that limiting your purchases of new clothing items is the most sustainable and ethical way to become a more conscious consumer. In Australia alone 15 tonnes of clothing and fabric waste are disposed of every ten minutes (yes, you read that correctly), which adds up to a whopping 800,000 tonnes, or 31 kilos per person annually. These figures are hardly surprising considering that in just 15 years we now purchase 60% more clothing and only end up keeping them for half as long, according to Greenpeace. These figures pose the theory that perhaps the biggest fashion trend of our time is purchasing unnecessary items and not giving the clothing in our wardrobes the love and wear they deserve.

Whilst it’s clear that we need to buy less clothing altogether, at times it can feel easier said than done. But in fact it’s actually pretty straightforward. The best way to buy less is to simply follow the three Rs: reuse, reduce and recycle. In particular, reusing and re-wearing clothing that is already in your wardrobe is perhaps the most efficient way to limit the amount of unnecessary clothing purchases.

Before looking to purchase new clothing it’s important to try and shop from your own wardrobe first. Whilst the feeling of ‘never having anything to wear’ may be overwhelming at times, it’s almost certain that you already have a very similar dupe to that new top you want to buy in your wardrobe. An easy way to overcome this feeling is to frequently go through and declutter your wardrobe and only keep the items you really love, your good quality basics, and versatile items you know you’ll wear on a frequent basis. Having less choice in your wardrobe helps to avoid feeling overwhelmed when looking at your closet, and resist the sudden urge to buy more clothes that end up sitting in your closet for years without ever being worn.

Graph about sustainable fashion
Support Local Brands

If you do need to purchase new clothing items, try opting for items that are locally and ethically made. Not only does this help support our local brands, but it also helps to reduce the carbon footprint of the new item you’ve purchased by having a smaller supply chain. Similarly, buying local usually means increased accountability and transparency in the supply chains, which in turn translates to better working conditions for garment workers as well.

Whilst buying local is often the better option, it’s important to keep in mind that just because something is made by a local brand, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the most sustainable choice. The most conscious way to shop is to think deeply about whether or not you really need an item and to do your own research before purchasing. It’s also important to consider whether the item you’re looking for can be purchased second hand online via platforms like Depop, or if you can find a similar style in your local second hand store.

If you’re looking for some new local and ethical brands to explore, some of our favourites include:

Woman wearing red top and black pants by Quillan.

Quillan is a slow fashion brand based on an intriguing amalgamation of passions, namely the importance of personal expression through the artistry of fashion and a solid belief in co-creating a better world for us all. It is through these passions that Quillan has developed a fashionable line of clothing made from organic natural materials, which follows sustainable practices to protect our environment and supports small ethical factories and suppliers. Shop Quillan here.

Woman wearing jeans
Nobody Denim

For the Melbourne-born brand Nobody Denim, ethics are at the heart of everything they do. Majority of their denim garments are manufactured in Melbourne under fair working conditions and they are accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA). Alongside having an ethical production system, Nobody Denim is committed to reducing their environmental footprint and clearly outline how they reduce waste, water, and energy usage throughout their operations. Shop Nobody Denim here.

Interior of clothing store
Zulu and Zephyr

For the past decade, Zulu and Zephyr has been a cult Australian lifestyle brand with their nostalgic vintage prints and strong focus on texture. In recent years, the brand’s social responsibility and sustainable practices has become a key focal point of their internal processes and priorities. Their pieces are crafted using sustainable ECONYL®, REPREVE®, GOTS certified organic cotton, BCI cotton, and European Flax®, alongside using sustainable packaging to ship their classic pieces. Shop Zulu and Zephyr here.

Women on beach

Based in Byron Bay, Afends is renowned for creating their collections from hemp, a renewable resource which requires significantly less water than cotton and needs no toxic chemicals, pesticides or insecticides to grow. All of their ranges are made using 100% sustainable fibres alongside not using any single use plastic or paper wastage within their stores. Shop Afends here.