Heard about ethical shopping but not sure where to start? Aware that high street brands are greenwashing the shit out of their campaigns - but not sure how to find the truth amongst the cover ups?
This article is for you.
It's out short, sweet guide to sustainable shopping - and being a more ethical consumer.
1: Do YOUR Best.
Let's start by clarifying that if you have to buy a cheap top, because its the inly brand that offers your size, is the only piece you can afford, etc then do not feel guilty about it! Ofcourse as individuals our efforts are important - if we all came together and say, boycotted Shein, they'd be out fo business. Easy! But in reality only people with the option of shopping elsewhere can take those actions. So step 1: do your best but don't beat yourself up if that doesn't look the same to someone else's best!
Transparency is so important in improving our industry. We need to be able to see what brands are farming, how they dispose of waste clothing, what they pay their garment workers etc, so that we can know whether they offer ethical products, or whether they destroy natural resources and carry out human rights violations.
Unfortunately most brands do not offer easy transparency. They may list their 'company's values' or claim they offer ethical options, but this is likely just hype. If a few minutes of googling or searching their website don't reveal info about where or how their products are made, it's likely they have something to hide. Maybe they don't pay workers fairly, or maybe they are just super unsustainable. It shouldn't take extensive research to get some basic info. You can even try reaching out to your fave brands on instagram or tiktok to easily ask for this info - see if they get back to you explicitly or avoid the question.
3: the full offering
If you want to shop ethically, obviously sustainable fabrics or environmentally sustainable products are kind of the buzzword at the moment. And whilst fashion companies do need to create less wasteful products there are some more elements to true ethical shopping, that make truly sustainable brands.
These include but are not limited to:
Are their supply chains sustainable?
A supply chain that employs children, underpays, and allows extremely dangerous working conditions is not sustainable. Aside from being seriously unethical factories that function like this are on the brink of being another Rana Plaza factory tragedy which is a totally avoidable and heartbreaking outcome for these workers. This kind of supply chain is not sustainable, it can not go on the way it does currently.
Do they pay workers enough to live on?
If not, that's a pretty unsustainable way for their employees to live and it certainly isn't ethical.
Do they discriminate in their hiring policies?
This relates to all levels of the business - some brands pretend to care about diversity by hiring inclusively for staff in their stores or the customer facing jobs - but by the time you get up to the levels of managers, CEOs and directors - its just a room full of older, rich white people. And with such a narrow set of experiences and views coming from the very top of the business - its 99% likely that they won't really be aware of, informed about, passionate about (or potentially even care about) issues that affect people different to themselves.
This could be a huge paragraph. The fabrics you choose can have a huge environmental impact and a sustainable shopper with a lot of time on their hands may be able to deeply research what fabrics are best, which break down easily, which companies use fair trade fabrics, what kind of farming is best, etc. We know most of you don't have a lot fo time for this much research before buying something you need. (Drop us an IG message if you want us to make a blog about this and give examples of the best brands/fabrics to look out for.)
For now, we're going to leave you with 2 points.
Polyester is plastic, currently 60% of clothing being made is made of polyester. This being a plastic means it doesn't break down easily, it sheds microfibres into the ocean every time you wash it, its production uses a lot of chemicals and therefor its best to avoid where possible!
Also cotton - a natural fibre so good right? Wrong. Cotton consumes an insane amount of water. One cotton t-shirt uses over 3 thousand litres of water to be produced. Denim jeans (denim is made of cotton!) are a big part of the problem as we produce so many of them, stone washing denim and dyeing it using synthetic indigo are both really polluting and dangerous practices. So our quick tip for this; shop denim second hand.
5: consumption & overshoping
Shopping ethically is one amazing way to be an ethical consumer. But another is to challenge the way that fast fashion tries to force us to shop. To us conscious consumers shop less, they shop more thoughtfully, they invest in pieces they can wear over and over again... we live in a world where thousands of images hit our screens every day, most of them telling us to buy quickly and impulsively in order to try and make ourselves feel happier.
We try to challenge that mindset. You can change your shopping habits; shop ethically, shop second hand, shop less, shop local businesses, or just shop more carefully and it will really help out. (as well as saving you money in the long run!)
6: love what you have
On a similar vein to our last point about ethical purchasing decisions you can also change they way you treat your clothes.
Love what you have, we've all heard the phrase 'the most sustainable clothing you can get are the ones already in your wardrobe' - and it's true!
Learn what the care label means to wash your clothing properly and keep it in good nick, hang things up properly, repair things when they break and if you need to switch them up get them tailored or customise them - worst comes to worst swap them with a friend or on a swapping/resale app!
We do sometimes share repair and DIY tutorials on our socials so be sure to check them out and if you have a particular item that you want to rework, but aren't sure how just drop us a DM and we'll be happy to help!
This was a really quick dip into a big pool of info about making more sustainable choices and how to find ethical alternatives. We will deffo share some more info about this when we can.. if you don't know us we're an ethical brand, so we love ethical consumers and want to help make if easy for you! (Since so many brands spend their time making it near impossible for you!)
In summary; question brands, consider more than just the clothings sustainability and ethics, shop carefully and love what you buy. If you just shop conscientiously it can make a huge difference, as can sharing info, asking questions and starting conversations so help make more people aware of the difference we all can make. But remember rule number 1 - don't guilt trip yourself, just do YOUR best!