One of THE MOST common questions I get from readers is, “HOW do you shop ethically on a budget? Ethical and fair trade fashion is so expensive!! Do you have any tips for ethical shopping on a budget?”
The answer is, of course, YES! This is one of the myths about ethical shopping and fair trade fashion… people think it’s so expensive. But it doesn’t HAVE to be! So, I have 5 tips for you today on how you can shop ethical and fair trade fashion while not breaking the bank!
This is, by far, the most affordable way to shop ethically… and honestly, it’s one of the most ethical shopping… PERIOD. Why? Because you’re buying things that are already in the “ecosystem” – if you will. These are pieces that are already out there, so if YOU buy them secondhand and wear and love them, that prevents the item from ending up in a landfill or somewhere else.
Yes, thrifting and consignment shopping can be a lot of work… so try shopping consignment ONLINE. Sites like ThredUp, Schoola, Poshmark, or even your local Buy/Sell pages on Facebook can be a much easier way to shop / thrift. They can also save you a LOT of money!
Here’s the thing about ethical shopping… when you stop to think about your purchases and the companies you are buying from, you will buy less. Trust me. I no longer just roam the mall or roam the aisles of Target and buy things I don’t need. I used to go to Old Navy because there “was a sale” and I’d buy a $4 shirt I didn’t actually need, but I’d buy it because it was $4. Well, the thing is, those little purchases add up… quickly. I spent WAY more money on clothes / shoes / random items when I wasn’t conscious about my spending and shopping than I do now.
Yes, most ethical brands are more expensive than your run-of-the-mill fast fashion clothing store… that’s because they’re made with care and the people who make and produce the items are paid fairly. This also means that items are so well made that they are made to LAST. Which means you won’t need to just buy something new next year… because what you are buying THIS year is made to last. Buying better quality will always save you money in the long run.
BONUS? This also helps to prevent buyers remorse… because you won’t be buying anything you don’t need or haven’t consciously thought about buying!
Sure, this might seem simple, but it’s true. Okay, so you love a particular pair of fair trade shoes or a really nice hand-embroidered top from an ethical fashion brand… but it’s a little out of your price range. Save for it! Take the money you would have spent buying something poor quality and cheap and save. I’ve been known to save for months to buy a pair of shoes or a bag that I really want. And, saving for it and buying it when the time comes makes me appreciate that item all the more and I’m less likely to dispose of it or get rid of it later.
Despite what a lot of people think, there are still some ethical fashion brands that have GREAT and totally affordable prices! The more you get to know the ethical and fair trade fashion world, you will learn which brands have what price ranges.
Here are just a couple of my favorite affordable (but still AMAZING quality) brands (and I have coupon codes for many of them which save you EXTRA money!):
So, if you’re on the hunt for something specific and you can’t find it thrifting, you can’t find it on consignment, and you can’t buy it ethically – apply the “30 Wears” rule. Ask yourself, “Can I get at least 30 wears out of this item?” If the answer is no, then don’t buy it. Really being intentional about our purchases can be a HUGE money saver! This is what I do with everything I buy and it has made a huge difference. (I also apply these tips when it comes to shopping for my kids!)
I hope these ethical shopping tips were helpful! What other questions do you have? How can I help? I would be happy to answer your questions in an upcoming blog post!