This series is made possible by the support of Friends of the Big Sioux River. They're celebrating Earth Day with the Big Sioux Brew and a river clean-up event. Details here.

Simplified: Sustainable shopping starts with using what you already have. But Sioux Falls Simplified talked to a couple of local business owners about things to consider when you need something new.

Why it matters

  • Shopping sustainably means creating less waste. By buying items made to last, customers are ultimately sending fewer items to sit in landfills.
  • Sustainability in the clothing industry involves multiple factors, said Sara Jamison, owner of Terra Shepherd Boutique & Apothecary in downtown Sioux Falls. It's about the materials used, sure, but it's also about making sure products are made by people making a living wage, she said.
  • Sustainable shopping also looks like buying things secondhand and thinking about how much use you'll get out of a clothing item or product before you purchase it.
"Don't buy a garment if you don't see yourself wearing it at least 30 times," Jamison said, adding she also encourages people to think about how to style that item at least five different ways.

What makes clothing sustainable?

Michelle Wilson, owner of Green Flora Handmade, said she has a number of questions she asks herself before making a purchase.

"Is it helping our planet?" Wilson said. "(Is it) advocating for the people who made the clothing? Is it handmade? Local? Woman-owned? Secondhand?"

For Jamison, it's also about looking at the materials in the product.

  • Investing in higher quality goods means you've got clothes that'll last longer, she said, and materials with natural fibers will ultimately cause less harm to the environment.

How do I get started buying sustainable clothing?

A good place to start is eliminating the "all or nothing" mindset, Jamison said.

"Just start with one thing, so that it does not feel overwhelming to you," she said.

Both Terra Shepherd and Green Flora Handmade have local options for clothing made sustainably, and Jamison said shopping local gives customers a chance to experience the products firsthand – touch, try on, style – before buying.

Sustainable clothing items will also have a higher price tag than the "fast fashion," but Jamison said if you buy items that last longer and reuse them, you end up saving money in the long run.

"I spend more for clothing items that put people and the planet first," Wilson said. "I just purchase less of them."