How do I shop ethically?

I know fast fashion is bad but what can I do? What if a brand isn’t 100% ethical?

Ok so you want to avoid fast fashion and protect the planet but how do you do it? Let’s face it, with fast fashion and single use plastics the norm in our society, nobody is going to shop 100% ethically.

We can however be mindful about everything we consume and make better choices when we can. Here are eight ways we can make positive purchases.

  1. Brands that look after their workers

There are a growing number of brands who have transparent policies about the treatment of their workers. If there’s a brand you like, check out their About Us page and, if they have nothing to hide, you should be able to find out where their clothes are made and how their workers are treated. Check the brands good on you rating.

2. Brands that use natural or sustainable fabrics

Not all brands make clothes made of plastic. Often higher end brands use quality and natural materials. Even better, there are companies who use soley organic (no nasty chemicals) or recycled materials. This is another thing to check in the About Us. Buying new from a clean fashion brand can be expensive, but a great tip is to invest in timeless, high quality basics. Check the brands good on you rating.

3. Fairtrade

Look out for the Fairtrade logo! This is the best marker you can get for clothes that were produced at a fair price and that no-one was exploited throughout the process of material sourcing, production and manufacture. I remember when the only places you’d catch site of this was in fringe hippy stores selling incense and brightly coloured hemp to middle aged ladies but things are changing.

4. Preloved

Whether it’s a great value find in a charity shop or finding a unique vintage piece from the past, shopping preloved is one of my favourite ways to shop ethically. Not only are you reusing items that would have gone to waste, you are supporting a charity or business with a clean fashion business model. The best thing is that the low proces won’t limit your choice and when you’re finished with a piece you can give it back! I find this a great way to experiment with different styles.

5. Crafted

Every time I watch The Great British Sewing Bee I imagine myself crafting a wardrobe of magical clothes but, lets face it, that’s never going to happen. The furthest I’ve got is knitting a pair of lumpy socks. If your not up for crafting whole garments, you can easily learn how to mend or if you have the money get a tailor to. There are though wonderfully skillful people crafting beautiful, original items. You can find these for sale at craft markets but my favourite place is to hunt online at Etsy.

6. Clothes hire

When celebrating a big event we all want to look fabulous with an elaborate dress or suit. How many such outfits are worn once only to spend the rest of their lives in the back of our cupboards? An alternative is evening hire and there are some online companies with enormous and varied choice.

7. Clothes swaps

One woman’s rubbish is another woman’s treasure. This is true of clothes! Got a group of friends who love fashion or part of a club or social group? Why not organize a clothes swap event? The idea is to invite people to bring along quality items they no longer wear, the items are laid out and people try things on, talking home the pieces they love. I’ve found a surprising amount of items this way and it can be a lot of fun.

8. Invest in basics

We can all feel some days like we have nothing to wear – nothing that fits quite right or suits the occasion. This can lead us to buy yet more clothes that can bring more confusion. It’s been said before but I endorse investing in quality basics. They look and feel great on any occasion, don’t go out of style and you can wear them until the wear out.

The take away

We’re never going to shop entirely ethically but every positive purchase we make is supporting the growing demand for clean fashion and at some point we’ll tip the balance to making this the norm.

I’d love to hear your tips, please contribute your suggestions in the comments.


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