A Beginner’s Guide To Ethical Shopping

Hi Guys! Welcome to my blog. Today we’re gonna be chatting about ethical shopping: Why it’s accessible, fun and what you should be doing! 

What is ethical and slow fashion?

Firstly, I think it’s important that we are clear what ethical, and slow fashion is. You have probably seen the concept of ‘fast fashion’ all over the news and your timeline recently. Fast fashion is the perfect starting point to think about ethical shopping. The gist of the issue is that mindlessly buying low-quality, mass produced clothing has a low monetary cost, but a high moral one! The slow fashion movement aims to promote an awareness around the manufacturing, materials and company ethics behind your clothing. 

It may also be important for you to look at who you’re supporting by buying products. Many ethical companies support women, or underprivileged groups by giving them jobs and support. The company may also donate, help or support a charity from your purchase.

Related: Check out my fellow blogger Teresa’s post on Sustainable Fashion Brands here.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin

Working Conditions:

As I said, important to consider where your products are coming from and what the company you are supporting represents. Think about companies who are looking at more than cost from their suppliers. Shop with those who also consider quality, transparency and human rights. A survey by The software advice said that people are willing to pay £20.50 more for product if it is made by people working under good conditions. Google the company you’re looking to buy from and see where they get their products. Also consider their materials and where they’re produced. Generally speaking, the wage and conditions are worse in places such as China, or Vietnam compared to if the products were made in England. This is due to differences in the laws and rights of workers.  

The Environment:

Etsy recently announced that it would be offsetting all its carbon dioxide emissions by investing in three projects (see here). For example, forest preservation in Minnesota, wind and solar energy in India and alternatives for chemical use within the automotive industry. The CEO Josh Silverman said that these investments will create enough clean energy to totally offset the shipping emissions. Look for companies who do similar schemes, or who try to reduce their carbon footprint in other ways. Perhaps by planting trees for each purchase is another way that you can be more ethical with your shopping. 

Photo by Pixabay


The last thing to consider is the materials being used in the product. Are they ethically sourced? For example, if you are buying furniture, is the wood used sustainable or is deforestation occurring?

In regards to clothing, It’s important to consider the origin of the fabrics and their impact. Conventional cotton is mass produced with the aid of non-renewable resources such as genetically modified plants, pesticides and man-made fertilisers. However organic cotton is made in smaller batches which considers biodiversity and wildlife in their growing techniques.

Be careful not to be deceived by a clothing product being labelled as organic cotton, as manufacturers are not required to be certified before being labelled that way. So if the garment contains 2% of organic cotton and 98% conventional, it can still be represented as organic.

You may have recently seen the Greenpeace campaign titled ‘Dirty Laundry’ which highlighted the effects of textile dying on the environment. Many dyes, or hazardous chemicals used in the textile industry will pollute water in areas near to factories (20% of freshwater pollution comes from fabric dying and treatment). It’s also important to check whether the cotton has not only been organically grown, but has also been processed organically with biodegradable and non-toxic dyes, and that the excess water is treated before being deposited back into nature. 

Where you should be looking:

I love shopping in vintage and charity shops. You can find some absolute beauties for such reasonable prices and you’re also giving the item a new lease of life. You’re supporting a worthy cause as well as encouraging people to donate their unwanted items instead of throwing them. They’d just go into landfill! Buying second hand also helps the environment through the reduction of mass produced, cheap clothing that is heating the planet up one degrees at a time. 

If you prefer to shop online, you can check out second hand market places such as depop or eBay. There are gems at affordable prices to be found! However I think it’s important to also consider the shipping, and how that affects the environment as well. Be aware of where the product is coming from, and if you want to increase its carbon footprint. 

If you want a new look, consider adapting the clothing you already have instead of buying new. You can change the cut, mend anything that’s damaged or dye it (with dyes safe for the environment, of course). There is also the option to use the fabric to remake the item totally! This also applies to furniture and any other items you have which can be changed to look brand new, or to fit your taste. 

If you have friends, family or neighbours who are the same size as you, look into sharing your wardrobe with each other, especially if your styles are similar. This means that you can basically have access to a whole new wardrobe without spending a penny, and without contributing to global warming, or an unethical brands bank account. 

Photo by Pixabay

When to look:

The best times to go second hand shopping are when the seasons change, after a big holiday (eg. Christmas), when people are spring cleaning or about a week after Marie Kondo’s next season drops on Netflix. There is new stuff coming into to these shops all the time, so make sure to keep checking if you are looking for something more specific, rather than just having a general idea of the item you’re needing. 

I hope this has helped you learn a bit about ethical shopping, and that you will consider some of the things I’ve mentioned when it’s time for a wardrobe update!

Let me know any top tips you have in the comments.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read about my cruelty free makeup bag which you can click here to do, or if you want to read my content about organic skincare or organic cotton, then you can click here or here.

Bye for now!

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  1. Very interesting topic. I’ve been reading up on sustainable clothing lately and have been trying my best to mend, buy in thrift stores or donate anything that no longer fits or suits. I try to avoid buying new at all cost not only because it’s usually more expensive than necessary, but also due to the impact it has on the environment.

  2. I like thrifting at second hand stores. I find that they have great finds. Recently, I have been trying to learn a lot more behind the scenes of fabrics and textures myself but I am glad that you have this in your post.

  3. I never knew much about this topic and the behind the scenes in fashion! But I am trying to become the educated on ways I can be more environmentally friendly. Thank you for sharing this information!

Let me know what you think!