Rome is a destination full of many shopping options, but it’s important to understand where the clothes you’re buying are coming from, and ways to buy more sustainably. Rome is a big city with different areas to go shopping in so it can get overwhelming deciding where to go. 

Table of Contents:     
  • Impacts of Fast Fashion  
  • Why You Should Shop Sustainably  
  • Tote Bags, The New (Sustainable) Trend  
  • Sustainable Shopping in Rome – Porta Portese  
  • Ways to Continue to Shop Sustainably  
Impacts of Fast Fashion 

Rome is a city with a lot of shopping to do, but it’s important to be sustainable while doing all your beloved shopping. Fash fashion is the leading problem of unsustainable shopping in our current world. Fast fashion is, put simply, inexpensive clothing produced at a rapid speed to market to the latest fashion trends. However, fast fashion is the leading cause of: 

  • Pollution on our water sources considering all the textiles that will get dumped into the water
  • The tons of microfibers that go into the ocean each year through clothes washing
  • The mass amount of water sources being used to simply produce the products

In addition, to the way that fast fashion is unsustainable for the environment, it’s also not sustainable for the workers that are mass-producing it. Fast fashion is commonly produced in factories that are sweatshops because the workers are working in unsafe conditions for long hours and at a low hourly wage. Additionally, in a lot of sweatshops, there are children employed and that poses an ethical problem in itself. But it’s also simply not sustainable for child workers to be working for long hours and at a low wage in unsafe conditions.  

Why You Should Shop Sustainably  

The most important and forerunning reason why you should shop sustainably is that it adds to the pressing issues of: 

  • Climate change
  • Pollution
  • Environmental degradation that we’re experiencing in the world

When producing clothing it’s the use of new resources to make clothing that is most unsustainable. However, if you purchase clothing made from recycled fibers then you can be much more sustainable. Because you are helping reduce the pressure on resources that are already being over-exploited. Using recycled fibers to produce clothing means there is a lot less chemical treatment necessary reducing the use of water, energy, and pesticide usage; all contributing to the carbon footprint you have on this Earth. Another reason you should shop sustainably is the animal lives that you could be saving in the process. This may be news to you, but animals are killed daily in the fashion industry. Lastly, sustainable fashion supports fairer and safer working conditions. Numerous eco-ethical brands are advocating for providing more humane working conditions for their employees. This also adds to the larger picture of giving the poor better working wages as well, creating a more sustainable economy as well. Overall, unsustainable shopping has many different impacts, and many reasons you may not have previously thought about that would be positively impacted by sustainable shopping.  

Tote Bags, The New (Sustainable) Trend 

Another, seemingly smaller, but impactful shopping trend that can positively contribute to sustainable shopping is the use of a tote bag. Whether stopping by a supermarket while in Rome or an outdoor clothing market, it is always better to have a tote or any reusable bag with you to help you carry your items. It’s important to note that any cotton tote is still not sustainable for the environment because just like a piece of clothing, there are production needs to make it. However, with the use of an eco-friendly tote bag, you are eliminating plastic bag usage and saving the resources that would’ve been used to make an ‘uneco-friendly’ tote bag.

There are many positives to eco-friendly tote bags that people glaze over. There are the obvious, such as reasons I’ve outlined above, more recycling, using less fiber production, less pressure on new resources. However, the ones looked over include non-woven tote bags which are naturally more affordable to produce and purchase and non-woven bags are made from materials more resistant to water, shrinking and stretching.

Lastly, an obvious, but not always one that crosses the mind naturally; every eco-friendly tote bag used is one less plastic bag that could be polluting our lands or more likely, our oceans. In the end, it’s important to use tote bags to help use fewer plastic bags while shopping, but still pay attention to the type of tote you’re using, because if not eco-friendly, it’s just as harmful.  

Sustainable Shopping in Rome

To begin with, different stores that you can go to, in Via Fontanella Borghese, there is a store called RE(f)USE. It takes the idea of sustainable shopping to heart, each item sold in the shop is unique, so no two products are alike. This is due to the use of recycled, damaged, discarded, and worn-out materials. Another store, Eco&Gea is in Via Pietro Giordani and is a bio vegan boutique.

They use recycled materials and natural fibers to ensure that each product has minimal impact on the environment. Lastly a thrift/flea market that is very popular in Rome is called Porta Portese. And while all items their may not be made from recycled fibers, buying second-hand is recycling clothing. Therefore, not creating a demand for more unsustainably produced clothing. Porta Portese is in Via Portuense and is an outdoor market filled with tents as far as the eye can see. During the summer months especially, you will see even more people outside and shopping.  

Ways to Continue to Shop Sustainably 

Shop secondhand at every turn you can! And if you’re one that doesn’t like the idea of secondhand because it brings the connotation of less quality, maybe even dirty, then try luxury thrift stores. In Rome itself, there are plenty such as:

  • Luxury Bags Second Hand by Vite Vintage 35
  • Twice Vintage Shop
  • Lesley Luxury Vintage Roma

There is also an idea of “over shopping” or shopping for quantity instead quality, and if you alter your mindset around that then you’re creating less demand for unsustainably produced clothing. Sustainable brands are also good to keep an out for because it’s much more sustainable to support sustainable brands rather than mass-producing brands such as H&M, Zara, or Forever 21. Some sustainable fashion brands in Italy are:

  • Erendira Italia
  • Francesca Geraci
  • BIFI Italia
  • Rifò 
  • Souldaze Collection

Lastly, try shopping locally, local shops are less likely to mass-produce clothing, and require less transportation to get their goods. This means shopping locally is more sustainable for our environment.  

Harlee Lovett 


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