Sustainable & Ethical Shopping – Starter List

So, you want to go shopping without hurting the planet or any of its inhabitants?  You’ve come to the right place.

If you aspire to create a sustainable, ethical and environmentally-friendly wardrobe, you need to know where to start.  A few things to remember before you do…

  1. There is no point in getting rid of fast fashion, or really anything in your current wardrobe that you already own.  This just creates more waste.  Use your clothing items as long as you can, and purchase “slow fashion” or pre-loved items going forward.  It does not help the environment to completely clean out your closet and replace everything with new clothing.
  2. I sometimes hear concern about purchasing pre-owned clothing.  One thing to keep in mind is that these businesses do not accept and re-sell every piece of clothing offered to them.  They take time to review every item for damage, asses its condition before setting a price, and most reject items depending on how old or worn they are. Many times they see the previous owner face-to-face.  Common reasons that clothing items get re-sold: the item never fit its owner properly, the item was a gift that the owner did not love, the owner wore the item  once or twice and then never again.  Do these situation sound familiar?  I personally have been here multiple times, and these are the types of items that I usually sell to consignment or second hand stores.  These stores also accept items such as leather jackets that have been loved for years but still have years left in them.  To me, it’s like trading clothes with my girlfriends.  Give it a good wash and it’s good to go.  Always give the clothing a good once-over to check for new stains or tears, but if there are places where you need to really keep a close eye on the quality before buying, I will note that for you in the description.

Slow (Sustainable) Fashion:

Since these are all newly-producted items, I won’t go into as much detail as I will with the second-hand shops.  Check out the websites below to explore each ones’ unique style, and shop guilt-free knowing that these brands are doing what they can to protect the environment and the workers who produce the clothing sold at these shops.

Everlane – Modern basics that will be staples of your wardrobe.  Affordable, ethical and fashionable.

Reformation– If you like patterned blazers, mini dresses and perfectly tailored pants, this is a GREAT sustainable option!

Synergy Clothing – Socially responsible options that you can wear daily.  Versatile dresses to comfy hoodies.  Hint – check out the sale “rack”!

People Tree – Sustainable, fair trade fashion from the UK!  Their “essentials” tab is a great place to begin your new eco-friendly wardrobe, and prices hardly get more reasonable for ethically made clothing items.

Patagonia – For my most active and outdoorsy readers.  Patagonia boasts amazing hoodies, fleeces and jackets for braving the cold weather this season and many seasons to come.  They also have an impressive collection of swimwear and menswear options!

Eileen Fisher – Eco friendly fabrics and one of the pioneer ethical clothing brands, these pick come at a slightly higher price, but are sure to last you for years.

Zady – With beautiful trench coats, sweaters and work blouses, Zady is a must-try for the conscious cunsumer.

Pre-loved Fashion:

Plato’s Closet – This is a place where you can buy and sell gently-used clothing.  I found my 2017 NYE dress at Plato’s closet for $3.99 and I am including it in my bag of items to take and re-sell to them next week.  I purchase a lot of items at Plato’s and most of them I have kept for years.  On my last visit to Plato’s in December, I sold them a bag of never or one-worn items from myself and my husband and I walked out with 2 new dresses and $42 cash.  These consignment-type stores seem to be hit-or-miss.

Buffalo Exchange – You can buy sell or trade clothing items at buffalo exchange.  It’s very similar to Plato’s Closet and the only reason that I don’t shop here is because there is not one in my area.  You can normally find either a Plato’s or a Buffalo exchange near you.  Try to sell your clothing at these two shops first, and whatever they don’t accept you can donate to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill.

Ebay – While you can find just about anything on EBay, I think it’s a great place to look for vintage or designer items.  I don’t believe in purchasing new leather, so if you have to have a leather item I think purchasing vintage leather is a great way to do it.  More on leather later.  We all know that fashion trends (and hairstyles, did you know that?) trend in cycles, so vintage items are often a great way to make the current fashion trends unique and different.  Vintage just has a certain cool-factor about it.  You know what I’m talking about.

Poshmark – An online marketplace where you can buy and sell used clothing.  I love the format of Poshmark ‘s website because it makes it really easy to search for specific items, browse collections that they put together for you, or find trending items like “Gucci loafers”.  I think Poshmark makes it really simple to stay on-trend even when buying vintage or gently used items.  While I was writing this blog post I got sucked in and spent 25 minutes looking at suede skirts, hahah.

Tradesy – This is a really good place to find designer brands.  If you are into designer items, I definitely recommend Tradesy.  You can also sell you own items to Tradesy, just like Poshmark.  I would say that the biggest differentiator between the two marketplaces is price point, with Poshmark generally being much more affordable.

Thred-Up – Similar to the two before, Thred up is an online marketplace where you can buy and sell clothing.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for on Poshmark or Tradesy, give Thred-up a try.  The downside is that they make people sign up before you can browse, which I find slightly annoying, but it is still a good option for online thrifting.  I have sold clothes to Thred-up in the past and it was an easy, fast and free process.

There you have it – a ton of options to keep you busy shopping guilt-free for the next few months!  What are your favorites from the list above?  Are there any affordable places that you think I should check out or add to this list?  Let me know in the comments, and happy shopping!


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