Becoming an ethical shopper can feel intimating. It can feel overwhelming, near-impossible and, perhaps most noticeably at first, it can feel expensive. Bloody expensive. In a world where we’re so used to being able to buy a whole outfit (including shoes!) for less than £100, the prices on ethical clothing websites are eye-watering in comparison. And that’s even more so the case when you’re a student who is acutely aware of how many bowls of pesto pasta you could get for that money.
The fact of the matter is that we’ve forgotten the value of our clothes. As I’ve spoken about many times before, we’re now a part of a fast-fashion world in which we expect to get garments for the cheapest possible price, at the expense of factory workers, the farmers that grow raw materials and our planet. Things need to change and we can all do some pretty simple things to be a part of that shift.
Knowing that so many of my readers are students and, frankly, that the majority of normal people just might not be able to afford to pay the prices of ethical fashion brands, I want to celebrate Fashion Revolution Week in a way that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. I thought I would share my tips for becoming an ethical ethical consumer on a budget, some of which won’t even cost you a penny!
Charity shops are your friend
You can’t tell me anything about charity shops. I once found a pair of Levis jeans for £7! SEVEN GREAT BRITISH POUNDS! So, I think they’re pretty great.
It might take some practise to tune your eye into finding the hidden treasure, but once you do, you’ll share my adoration. Not only does buying from them mean that you’re elongating an item’s life and not supporting fast fashion, but that you’re giving to a good cause at the same time. Win-win.
…Or just shop second-hand
If charity shops are a step too far for you, try second hand shopping somewhere that is less likely to smell like your Nana’s house: Online. Ebay and Depop are my favourites and you can usually find a great mix of brand new items from highstreet brands and some vintage gems. Either way, it means that you can fuel your shopping habit in a more sustainable way. Plus, you’ll probably find yourself a bargain.
Buy quality over quantity
With the state that the fashion world is in at the moment, it can be way too tempting to bulk buy clothes. When you can get a T-shirt, a pair of new jeans, some shoes, a bag and some jelly sweets at the checkout for less than £50, it’s hard to resist. However, knowing that someone has to pay the price for those cheap items has revolutionised the way that I buy.
I try to avoid entering highstreet shops as much as physically possible. I don’t want to be overwhelmed by the colourful tags and gigantic “SALE” signs. Instead, when I’m not in a financial situation that allows me to buy from an ethical shop, I buy quality. I get items that will last me years and years, even if it costs slightly more, instead of buying 3 items that will last a month.
Even though I’m a total homebody, I’ve heard that last-minute nights out are quite a ‘thing’ at university. For occasions like this, I think it’s important to have outfits planned ahead of time. That way, you might not be so tempted to sprint to Primark or get Boohoo next day delivery because you feel like you don’t have anything to wear.
Look after your clothes
Taking care of your clothes is free and also one of the best ways to be a more ethical consumer. Simply put, looking after your clothes means they last longer and you won’t have to give as much money to companies that fund the fast fashion industry. That’s why it was one of my Earth Day Resolutions! Simple things like hand washing your delicates, hanging up your clothes instead of organising them on your floor-drobe (I’m looking at myself with this one), and not using the tumble drier will keep your clothes in much better shape.