Becoming a Mindful Consumer

Becoming a Mindful Consumer

As I started to develop my ideas for  WITHNELL  I  did a lot of reading, books, web browsing, blogs, social media, sustainability, greenwashing and environmental impact, to name but a few.  I am always sceptical of what news and facts are out there but when you check and cross reference with other sources that are saying the same or similar a picture soon emerges.

 My research was eye opening.  We live in a world where as consumers we only see the end result, the polished version. Mass production  of our food  and our clothing has led us to a place of detachment. Dangerously we place all of our trust in the manufacturers and the retailers of the products we buy. We no longer connect with the processes involved, where the materials have come from, who has made it or what even does that mean when it comes to some strange technical words or codes.   I gave this a lot of thought  and wondered how I could  make a positive  impact through WITHNELL.  I realised that it has everything to do with being considered, mindful and slow.  

Our relationship with fashion hasn't always been healthy.  The way we buy clothes is often on an impulse that many times we regret. Adding items to our shopping cart because we think we will look great in them but not really considering, will that work with what I already have? Will I wear it again - ever? Or buying that new pair of jeans just because you deserve it, you worked hard this month and need a treat...

Changing how we purchase  needs action and changing habits can be hard work, it requires a shift in mindset just like giving up smoking or going on a diet - of which I  have done both - more than once!  So I decided one area at a time, small steps are more likely to be successful.    

  “We don’t need to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in change.  Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.”    (Howard Zinn)

 There is  a lot we can borrow from mindful practice to change the way we purchase and make our wardrobes sustainable. Just a few small acts can have a huge impact. 



Breathe  - When we are mindful we are slowing down and  creating  time for ourselves to think. This is a great way to reduce those impulse buys. Before you purchase sleep on it for a day or two.  You will probably go back to it and think actually I don't need it, it's not as great as I thought.  Use the money saved for something that you will wear for a long time. 


Think outside the box - I have always questioned why we commit to an expensive purchase for a special occasion?  They are not very often and our wardrobes become full of one time wear purchases. It makes far more sense to invest hard earned cash into what we wear every day and make our clothes work hard for us.  


Use your senses - I have to admit I am super sensitive to clothing and have been known to cut labels out or even wear items inside out.  Being aware of how clothes make you feel is mindful practice. Think about the pieces you wear often and ask yourself why.  Think about pieces you dislike and the reasons why.  After  a while  you will start to  use your senses to understand yourself and your wardrobe better.  This will help you to make considered purchases.

Think in £ per wear and not £ per item -We generally have a misunderstanding of cost and we tend to think of items as expensive when actually they are good  value for money.  Cost per wear is probably the best way to see value in your purchases. Which is more expensive a £200 pair of jeans  that you wear all the time or a £20 pair that you wore once?  If you wore the £200 jeans 50 times that would be £4 per wear, yet the £20 jeans worn once is £20 per wear. Now that is a waste of money and a huge burden for the environment.  Of the 100 billion garments made each year, 92 million tonnes end up in landfill  - or a truck load every second.  Cost per wear is the best measure of sustainability. Buying less and choosing well means we will all wear less, more often, saving valuable resources and wasting less. 


Shop sustainable - A word currently thrown around,  sustainable means to last and can be replaced from a source that won't run out. Think natural fibres, organic, regenerative farming. Cast your vote for a cleaner, fairer, more transparent fashion industry by seeking out ethical and sustainable brands. One of the main things that stops many people buying from sustainable brands is the price difference.  It will come as a shock to see the true cost of ethically made items. Especially if you are used to fast fashion prices. The price of ethically made clothes is a truer reflection of what it costs to make them. Garment production is labour intensive and  the true cost of fast fashion is paid by the poorly paid garment workers, the farmers exposed to chemicals and constant price squeeze, the environment, nature and ultimately it is 'costing the earth.' When we purchase pieces consciously, we  show our love for the world,  self love and self care.  

Sunnyhurst dress in organic poplin 

Create your own chic - The French have a real way with style. It's because they choose wisely what they really love.  They mix and match in a quirky fashion and  this makes their wardrobes work really  hard. When you see items that you really love, make a note or build a Pinterest board of your favourites, you will soon develop your individual style and save £s.



Use What You Have, Swap and Swish -  Extending the life of your clothes by just nine months of active use could reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30 per cent. (Jen Gale)  Swapping or swishing is becoming increasingly popular and events are more common.  It's a great way to  refresh your wardrobe, it also  prevents charity shops from being swamped with unwanted clothes and it costs next to nothing.  You could hold a swishing event at home with your friends. For more ideas  see

WITHNELL  has naturally evolved to join the Slow fashion movement which focuses on mindful consumption.  There is an  emphasis on sustainability, durability, repair and recycle.  Slow fashion encourages us to shop with intent, to buy better, made to last garments. To consider the price per wear and the value for money a high quality purchase will have.  To opt for quality over quantity.   Consider clothes made to order to avoid  wasting precious raw materials, energy and labour.  It will also make you think before you buy, knowing that someone is going to make that garment specially for you.
 If you  purchase treasure each time then it won’t turn into trash.  Ultimately  keep garments in circulation for as long as possible and  then pass them on to someone else, sell them, recycle them into another product, or a  new material.  Finally if they have reached their end of life and they are made from natural fibres, including labels, threads and trims, then they will biodegrade over time. However before this step you could consider making dust and cleaning  cloths for your home and then compost them.

To  find out more about my practice, click on the image below. 




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