Ethical, Sustainable Shopping (Frugally)


When I saw the documentary True Cost, a film about working conditions for employees of fast-fashion megastores, I knew that I had to change my consuming habits. I quit shopping at cheap, popular stores but wasn’t sure where to go instead. It seems like trying to verify if a clothing (or jewelry, shoe, really any product) brand was sustainable, ethically sourced, fair trade was impossible task. Luckily, I turned to Pinterest and found a few buying guides, so that now if I have a present to buy someone or have to replace something, I know I’m getting it from a company I feel proud about supporting.

Of course, I have cut down on buying as part of my frugality and have embraced simplicity, and I’ll touch on that in this list.

So, here’s a compilation of lists, stores, and brands that I have found to be compassionately made and environmentally-friendly. Let me know if I missed any!

  • Minimalism, simplicity, cutting down; there are many ways to describe that we just don’t need so much junk! Become a mindful spender by asking yourself what good any item will do before you buy it, and be critical of bringing new things into your home – try this 30 day minimalism challenge
  • Remember the buyer hierarchy when considering buying something:
    • 1) Use what you have
    • 2) Borrow
    • 3) Swap
    • 4) Thrift
    • 5) Make
    • 6) Buy
  • Did you know that clutter can make you unhappy? Put one day aside each week to purge, following thees 8 tips
  • Ok, you’ve decided you need buy an item – why not try second-hand? Thrift shopping is cheaper, doesn’t contribute to worker-exploitation, and is better for the environment since it’s not going in the garbage!
  • If you are going to purchase an item, this ethical shopping guide has just about anything you could need, from accessories to furniture to food. A great resource to have bookmarked!
  • Better yet, follow the Toms route and purchase a buy-one, give-one product that also goes to someone in need
  • Buy reusable items instead of single-use (and check out more eco-friendly practices here!)
  • So the guide is missing a few items, so I’ve linked fair-trade sheetsmattresses, and workout clothes
  • Finally, replace gift-giving holidays with other ways to celebrate. Gift-giving is one area of life we feel societal pressure to buy, especially on major holidays. Let’s be honest though, half the stuff we give is returned, and we don’t remember 99% of gifts we’ve gotten over the years. Try instead to do a meaningful experience with loved ones (like a concert) on that day, volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen to give back, and if you’re in the US celebrate Thanks-Living at Thanksgiving time this year

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