Technically this is a Lazy Girls Guide, but as I began to realize pretty much any sorta guide I write here will be the lazy girls guide. Meaning a straight forward no BS guide, or the most straight forward way I know how to type whatever it is I’m typing about.
Being a socially conscious and more ethical shopper is a bit of a mix between caring about how workers are treated, the impact the products have on the environment (during and after production) and the effect it has on animals (but that can also be categorized with environmental concern). Maybe you are focused more on the treatment of people than the environment, or vice versa? Whatever your largest concern lies, you don’t have to tell me or anyone for that matter. But hopefully these basic tips will help you and me both to become more informed consumers and generally ones who are by default more conscious about the social and environmental effects of our shopping. After doing my research (and talking to my ethical shopping sister, who helped me a ton with this guide) I will be trying my best to be a much better shopper than I currently am now.
1. Get Educated
Of course this has to be the is the first tip and the most time-consuming one. But if you want to shop better, you need to learn about the companies you currently buy from and the ones you might want to buy from in the future. A website like GoodGuide is a great resource for looking up products and getting a quick and very clear rating on their social, environmental and health effects.
2. Buy Organic And/Or Chemical Free
Not fool-proof, but a good rule of thumb. Generally if an item is organic and made without chemicals the working conditions for the workers who made the items (and the effect the production has on the environment) are less toxic and generally probably better than their chemical ridden counter parts.
3. When in Doubt, Shop Local
So hip right now, but it’s for good reason! It can be hard to find out if larger companies produce their items in ethical conditions even with a service like GoodGuide. You can of course follow-up with the company directly if you really love them and want to know, but even easier than that is to stick with local companies. It is always much easier to find out if a company is producing their items under ethical conditions if they are local and more often than not they will be so proud that the items are handmade, produced locally, and or ethically that it will be a part of their marketing.
4. Spend a Little More
If you buy cheap, chances are the items (especially clothes) are made cheaply and probably with very cheap labor. I know fast fashion is appealing and cheap is budget friendly, trust me I get it. If you add, educating yourself on the brand, buying organic and shopping locally all together you get, the ethical trifecta (mini mioche is a natural trifecta for kids and FRANC for yourself!). By spending a bit more you can be a step closer to making sure the items you own weren’t made in sweatshop like conditions.
5. Shop Less
Buy smart, by buying only what you love and need. This will help to ensure everything you own is worn a lot and mix a matches well. If you spend a little more, to make sure you have quality items they will last a lot longer. So buying items you love, only when you need and that last a long time means you’ll be shopping much less often.
6. Buy Second Hand
When you can, if you can. This is probably the easiest and best way to be an ethical consumer. Sure the items you buy might not have high ratings on the GoodGuide but by extending their life and not adding to the production of new items you are being kind to the environment and to human kind. I am admittedly not very good at shopping used, I find the second-hand stores very picked over or very high-priced in Toronto — guess that’s what I get for living in a city where it’s so hip to be ethical.
7. Clothing Swaps and Alterations
How about don’t buy at all, trade your old clothes for new ones at clothing swaps. Maybe organize one on your own with your friends? Or do alterations to clothes you already own, Denim Therapy is a great place to get your jeans fixed up good as new. Especially good because denim is one of the clothing items that has the biggest environmental footprint.
You know what would be great? A big list of brands and shops that are stylish, ethical and socially conscious, to make all of this shopping really easy! And hey guess what, I got that for you (because I like you all so much)! Click here to grab the list filled with stylish ethical clothing brands, I put together for you!