6 Tips for Purchasing with Purpose

April 1, 2016·

You guys know how passionate I am about fair trade and ethical fashion. I’m so fired up about educating MYSELF and educating other people on how we can be a VOICE with our buying dollars – how we can make a difference just by the way we shop.

I get questions from readers ALL THE TIME on ways that they can “purchase with purpose.” I launched my directory back in the fall and so many people have written me to tell me how much they love it! But, I also get questions on how they can do MORE. What are some other ways that we can “purchase with purpose” and contribute to the #ethicalfashion movement?

I have six tips and ways for you to be a voice with your dollars…

1. Thrift & Shop Consignment

Every year, we produce 11 MILLION TONS of textile waste. That is A LOT. Right? Right. We live in a “fast fashion” culture and we buy, buy, buy. And we dispose, dispose, dispose. One of the BEST and most ethical ways to shop is actually to buy pre-loved or pre-worn clothing from thrift stores, consignment stores, etc. It’s also extremely ethical to donate your clothing or sell your clothing rather than just throwing it out and further contributing to textile waste.

Repurposing and recycling clothing is also another wonderful way to prevent textile waste! This also creates less demand in the marketplace for cheap, fast fashion… which thus creates less demand for the unethical labor practices in sweatshops and factories overseas.

Plus, it’s an awesome way to save money and buy name brand or nice clothing at a less-than-retail price! Not to mention so many thrift and consignment stores have some sort of tie to the community for giving back and donating to great causes. It’s basically a win, win, win!

View More: http://em-grey.pass.us/the-root-collective-guatemala-trip-february-2015-web-optimized-2

Here’s a crazy infographic about textile waste:



2. Thrift & Consign ONLINE!

So you don’t want to fight with going to a store to thrift or shop consignment. I feel you! With two kids, I do NOT have time to peruse a thrift store hoping to find a good deal. My personal preference for shopping consignment and thrifting is actually to do it ONLINE!

There are a bunch of wonderful sites these days where you can sell your clothes online and shop for used / pre-loved clothes online… BUT, my personal favorite online thrift / consignment sites are thredUP and Schoola!

Thredup-logo-september-2014A little about thredUP: thredUP is super easy! You can both buy AND sell on thredUP. You “order a bag” and they send it to you to put your like-new and gently worn clothes in. You send it to them (they pay for shipping) and you get a percentage of what they are able to sell it for. You can also SHOP on thredUP – they have mens, womens, maternity, accessories, and kids clothing on there! And it’s all nice stuff at a great discount. (use this link to get $10 off your first thredUP purchase!)

schoola-logoA little about Schoola: Schoola is an awesome way to DONATE your clothes, and it’s an awesome way to SHOP for clothes and give back! Similar to thredUP, you order a bag, they send it to you, you fill it up with clothes you want to donate, and they sell the clothes on Schoola for you! Only difference is, instead of you getting the money, the proceeds from what they sell go to benefit local schools, education programs, scholarships, etc. So, it’s basically an online “goodwill” or “thrift store” that you’re donating your stuff to. The reason I prefer Schoola over my local thrift store is because very often, thrift stores actually just trash the stuff they receive… and that textile waste is just going into landfills and it causes a lot of problems! I love that Schoola uses the clothes for a PURPOSE – benefitting local schools! You can even designate what school or program you want to benefit!

Again, there are other online consignment / thrift sites, but these are my favorite.

The Flourish Market (7)

3. Throw and/or Host a Clothing Swap Party with Your Friends

I’ve talked a lot about this in a previous post, so I won’t go into it in detail here. But again, this prevents textile waste and allows others to love your clothes when you don’t love them anymore! 🙂

A Clothing Swap Party - An eco-friendly way to clean out and spice up your closet (4)

4. Reach Out to and Ask Your Favorite Brands Question(s):

Ask them questions like:

  • “Where are your clothes / products / pieces / goods made?”
  • “What are your manufacturing practices?”
  • “Are the employees in your factories paid a fair wage?”
  • “Is there child labor used in your factories?”
  • “Do your closely or regularly monitor your factories?”
  • “Do you have any store of program in place to deal with textile waste?”

Join the Fashion Revolution, contact your favorite brands and ask #whomademyclothes?

The more we ask the major brands these questions, the more pressure they will feel to ACT on it and make positive changes!

SSEKO Designs "Terra Leather Convertible Crossbody Bag"

5. Look at Who You’re Purchasing From

Are they:

  • Certified B Corporations?
  • Certified Fair Trade?
  • Transparent in their manufacturing processes?
  • Do they share anything about their story and how they operate?
  • Do they talk about the importance of treating employees (from manufacturing on up?)
  • Do they have a “give back” mission or purpose?
  • Can you find out information about how they manufacture their clothes?
  • Do their factories comply with WRAP standards?

The more we purchase from companies who are behaving ethically, the more demand will be created! It’s all about HOW we buy things – our dollars really speak loudly!

Fashion for Good: The Root Collective (Fair Trade, Ethical Fashion, Ethically Made Shoes)

6. Look at the Manufacturing Country of Origin

Typically you’re safe when you’re purchasing products that are made in the following countries:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • France
  • Australia / New Zealand
  • UK
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • Sweden

The above countries have labor laws and practices in place to ensure quality standards in their factories.

Countries that tend to have a higher standard and stricter child labor laws… but you just never know, so I say do your research and be cautious:

  • South Africa
  • Parts of Mexico

Countries I mostly avoid altogether due to their reputation for child labor practices, poor and unsafe working conditions, etc. (unless I know the brand is fair trade / certified B corporation):

  • Bangladesh
  • Nepal
  • Thailand
  • Turkey

NOTE: Just because it says “Made in China” or even made in one of the above countries doesn’t necessarily make it bad. A lot of factories in China are actually run very well. CERTAINLY not all of them, but many of them are. It’s all about doing your homework, researching, and doing your due diligence! 🙂

7. (Yes, this is a “bonus” tip): Ask yourself “Would I wear this item AT LEAST 30 times?” 

How many times do we purchase an item JUST because it’s trendy or JUST because it’s on sale and then it sits in our closet and we never reach for it? To me, that’s a waste. I am not ignorant to the fact that sometimes we need to shop based upon budget and sometimes those $4 shirts from Target are hard to pass up. BUT, be INTENTIONAL about your purchases. If you ask yourself, “Will I wear this item AT LEAST 30 times?” you’re making sure that it’s an item that you REALLY love and you will wear out! That’s purchasing smart and intentionally.

There you have it.

Those are just a few of my favorite tips for “purchasing with a purpose.” I have really implemented most of these into my buying habits and it’s made a huge difference! I love that I know what I’m buying and where it was made and how it was made. I know that the person that made it is making a fair wage and supporting his or her family. I love that so many of the companies I buy from now are giving back to the community or making an impact. I love that I’m doing my part to not contribute to textile waste. I think the more purposeful we are in our buying habits, the happier our closets actually feel!

What about you? Did you learn anything new? Any tips YOU would like to share?