4 Tips on How to be Sustainable When You’re on a College Budget

Photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

Let’s be honest. We all love the idea of being sustainable, but it may not be 100% possible for everyone. While it’s nice to know that whatever piece you’re wearing was sustainably sourced and came from factories that paid and treated their workers well, it does cost the end user a pretty penny.

I started my sustainability path over 10 years ago by mistake. I took such good care of my clothing (without trying too hard, I might add), that I still have most of my clothing, shoes and accessories from over a decade ago. I’m talking about Forever 21-type clothing. Granted, Forever 21 is not what it used to be in terms of quality, style and durability. It has always been considered fast fashion and not really meant to last very long. 

Somehow I’ve managed to keep them in good condition and since I never was one for trends, they are still classic pieces that work a decade later. I realized one day recently that while I can’t afford to buy from sustainable brands right now, I have been sustainable by not shopping, by taking care of the clothes I do have and continuing to reimagine those pieces into new outfits that are relevant to current trends.

So, even if you’re a broke college student at the moment, you can certainly be sustainable. Here are three tips you can follow to do just that.

Look at Your Own Closet with Fresh Eyes

First do a closet dump, otherwise you’re probably amassing a bunch of stuff that no longer fits or has holes. Do the same with your shoes and accessories while you’re at it. You’ll thank me later. Once you’ve got the pieces you do wear or at least used to wear and are still in good condition, take a look at each item and try to imagine new outfits with it. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had stuff in boxes ready to list on Poshmark just to pull it out and be like, “omg, this would look great with this!” 

Sell, Sell, Sell … or Donate

If there’s anything you absolutely know you won’t be using but is still in good condition, sell it on Poshmark, Depop or at a yard sale. You can also choose to donate which I’m very fond of. I actually donated all of my old office type attire to a women’s shelter here in Miami that then supplies the clothing for interviews for the women staying with them. Not only are you making room in your possibly already cluttered closet, but you could be helping someone else in the process. 

Buy Secondhand

Speaking of Poshmark, Depop or yard sales, commit to only buying secondhand when you need something. By shopping secondhand, you’re being sustainable and staying within your budget. Also, you’ll be able to find pieces you loved but couldn’t afford in season. I just bought a pair of high-waisted Zara shorts that I wrote about last fall. They went on sale and I missed it, so I decided to look them up on Poshmark. Lo and behold, I found them in my size, new with tags and for a quarter of the original price. Score!

Take a Shopping Hiatus

This may not be for everyone, but have you considered taking a shopping hiatus? Taking a year off from shopping can help you really determine what you use, what you can repurpose and what needs to be donated or sold. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it!

So, there you have it. Let me know how you’re sustainable on a budget in the comments. It’ll ultimately help us all!

Sally Espinosa

Follow me on IG @sallythatprgirl!


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