There a lot of things you can do to be an ethical consumer, and they're really quite easy.
Step 1: START BY CHANGING YOUR HABITS
Forming new habits can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to change all of your ways at once. You can start with one small step. Here are a few ideas.
- Buy something from a company that is fair trade, sustainable, vegan or organic and see how easy it is!
- Pick one item on your shopping list and research what ethical alternatives are out there and where these items are carried—both at online and in-person stores.
- Pick a month and commit to buying fewer items or only items you need.
- Before you buy, ask yourself if you will want to wear it over a long time and only buy it if the answer is YES!
- Read the tag and buy natural fibers that will biodegrade.
- Recycle your unwanted clothing rather than just donating.
- Try up cycling and turning your worn-out pieces into something new!
- If you aren’t crafty, swap and trade with friends or at an event.
- Buy pre-loved or second-hand.
- Did you know it’s easy now to rent instead of buy? Check it out!
- Next time you need something special to wear, do a little research online for looks you really like and have a garment made rather than buying off the rack.
- Repair instead of discard, and that way you’ll be supporting a local business too!
Step 2: BE CURIOUS
Don’t Be Shy! Ask the Brand a Few Questions.
Next time you go shopping, don’t be afraid to ask the person who works at the store about their company’s mission and the products they sell.Brands want your loyalty, after all, so you might as well find out if you really want to support them!Brands that care about people and the planet have answers to these questions, so go ahead and ask.
- Where are your clothes made?
- Where are your factories located?
- Who makes the clothes?
- Are they paid a fair wage?
- Does your company have a sustainability plan?
- Do you have a plan to reduce your environmental impact?
Don’t Be Lazy! Read the tag.
If you feel funny asking the store clerk about their business practices, or if the employees don’t know the answers, read the tags instead. See where a product is made and what it is made of. Brands that use ethical factories or manufacture in a country with strictly enforced labor laws don't hide this information. And avoid synthetic fibers when possible and go with natural and, even better, organic fibers.
Don’t Be In The Dark! Read up about your favorite brands on their websites.
Again, it's not hard to tell if a brand is leading the ethical movement. Read the About Us section, the Mission and the FAQ. Actually, you probably won't even have to go that far because most ethical brands aren't shy about their values!
STEP 3: LEARN ABOUT THE INDUSTRY YOU ARE SUPPORTING
Host a Move Night!
Documentaries are a great way to learn, and learning doesn’t have to be boring or lonely. Pop some popcorn, get some snacks and organize a movie night with your friends and family! There are a lot of great documentaries out there, and many of them are even free online. Here’s our list:
- From Sex Worker to Seamstress: The High Cost of Cheap Clothes
- Living Wage Now
- Re/Make Short films
- The Machinists
- The True Cost
- Udita (Arise)
- Food Inc.
- Cotton Road