The ethical shopping minefield

I’ve just rewatched the ‘True Cost’ documentary on Netflix and just like the first watch, I’ve come away slightly sick and completely baffled.

How exactly do you manage to shop ethically? Minimalism is helpful, consuming less is as important as consuming well. But how do you know which brands to trust? Are all brands with factories in developing countries inherently evil? Or are there companies using factories where workers are treated well and paid fairly? What about the environmental side? Some companies pay well and dump toxins, how do you know which is ‘best?

I hate throwing anything in landfill. I recycle as much as possible, which is helped by our local council. I have 4 bins (here’s a pic of 3 of them, the green one is out for collection!)


They are as follows:

  • Blue bin – landfill. Collected every 2 weeks (it’s the smallest of the 4)
  • Brown bin – food and garden waste. Collected every 2 weeks
  • Black bin – paper waste. Collected every 4 weeks
  • Green bin – plastic and cans. Collected every 4 weeks

If we want to recycle glass we have to take them to the collection point ourselves. There are textile recycling bins, electrical appliance recycling, books, etc at the local tip. I generally sell or donate needed/damaged clothes so that, although I might be done with them, the lifecycle of the items is longer.

But what about when you need to buy something new? I buy used from eBay for certain things and have a look in charity shops but the charity shops round here only do so much. We have bought things from them and donate frequently but sometimes you just can’t get what you’re after.

The fashion transparency index is great in theory but it only has a tiny number of brands listed. Also H&M got a decent score but the last few things I’ve bought from them were shit quality so had to be replaced quickly.

I have a shortlist of ethical brands now and I’m going to start buying from there. I’m finally losing the weight I piled on 3 years ago so I’ll need to replace my current clothes gradually. Some things look fine oversized but jeans falling off you? Not so much.

Happy Shopping List

  • People Tree – great credentials but as they stop at a UK 16 I haven’t ever been able to shop there. Will be first on my list when I can actually fit the clothes!
  • Beyond Skin – These are environmentally friendly, they are also vegan and to be very honest I’m not bothered about that. I eat meat, buy leather… vegan friendly wouldn’t even factor into my decision but the environmental and ethical credentials do.
  • Birdsong – made by women’s groups. I prefer people tree in terms of my own style but they do have a few things I like.
  • Made – Beautiful jewellery. Great mix of classic and statement pieces. The Daisy Knights collection is fun!
  • Thought – The clothes are a little dippy hippie for me but I like the socks and underwear!
  • ASOS – Made in Kenya – ASOS is a little iffy on the ethical shopping front, it has updates daily and encourages consumption like no other brand I’ve seen… but this collection is a good effort.

Any other suggestions?



1 thought on “The ethical shopping minefield”

  1. This is my current struggle, too! Check out Everlane and Uniform for quality basics. You can also try online secondhand shopping like on Poshmark or Depop, which tend to sell brand name clothing. I also love buying accessories and jewelry from independent artists on Etsy!


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