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4 Tips for Shopping Ethical Fashion on a Budget

You might already know the tried-and-true shopping tricks of buying all your clothes in one predetermined color scheme or buying last year’s fashions on sale at the turn of the season.

However, when you add the ethical element card to the mix, getting nice-looking clothes at a reasonable price, that also doesn’t harm anything or anyone, gets trickier. You really have to think about your purchases and know how to shop.

Fortunately, ethical shopping can be done and right in your own backyard! If you’ve made a vow to wear more ethical fashions, here are four ways you can get started doing that today.

Guest Post by Zoe Dobson

4 Tips for Shopping Ethical Fashion on a Budget

4 Tips for Shopping Ethical Fashion on a Budget
1. Think Globally, Act Locally

Money Crashers offers some great advice for those who want to support ethical fashion on a global scale but who really only shop for their favorite brands at their local stores. The key is to research your favorite brands. Find out how they treat their workers worldwide. If that brand has a reputation for mistreating its workers, then don’t buy that brand’s clothing in your local store.

It may seem like a small thing to stop shopping for X-Brand in British Columbia, or where ever you live, but think of it this way. If everyone did this, then local malls and retail stores would stop selling the offending brands and brands would be pressured to adopt more ethical practices. It’s the long game to be sure, but eventually, it does make a difference.

And although it may be a bummer to find out that your favorite brand isn’t ethical, there is an upside. Your research efforts will likely help you find shops in your area that are ethical and that do fit your budget. Essentially, both your wallet and your ethical heart are happy with your new choices. Now, there’s a real win-win!

4 Tips for Shopping Ethical Fashion on a Budget

2. Make A Trade

Do you and your sister or best friend wear the same size? Then, why not start a wardrobe swap? It can include as many or as few people as you’d like.

Basically, you trade out the clothing in your closet that have become oh-so-yawn-worthy for you for one of your sister’s smokin’ hot jackets or cool pairs of boots. By doing this, your old clothes get reused and won’t end up in the garbage dump somewhere. The same goes for your sister’s or your friend’s clothes.

The other cool thing about this is that you can keep your fashion efforts local and ethical. You must decide what ethical fashion means to you because it’s not the same for everyone. In this case, if you’ve decided that it means that you want to support the environment by cutting down the amount of transportation required to get your clothes from their source to you, then doing a local clothing swap is one way to do it.

By the way, this principle also works in retail. If you don’t have a friend or family member that wears the same size, then frequent your local second-hand store. It’s almost the same principle, except you’re buying the clothes instead of trading. But the good news is you’re still keeping it local and second-hand clothes are usually pretty easy on the wallet.

4 Tips for Shopping Ethical Fashion on a Budget

3. Opt For Classic Fashion

According to Fast Company, ethical fashion sometimes costs more. That’s part of the price that a person pays for making sure that their clothing choices don’t hurt others. However, for the money-conscious person, this causes a dilemma. Do they buy cheap and risk harming people, animals, or the environment doing it? Or do they just forgo buying new clothes, because they can’t afford them?

Actually, there is a middle way. That durable pair of jeans or classic-cut blazer may cost you $150 a pop, but pieces like these also last longer. If you spend $150 on something that lasts six or seven years or more, then the per-wear price isn’t that much. That’s basically $25 a year or less.

If you must have a few more trendy pieces, then save those purchases for items, like a cool scarf or a neat pair of earrings.

4 Tips for Shopping Ethical Fashion on a Budget

4. Donate To Stores That Recycle
According to Elle, you don’t have to be stuck with your old digs. Drop your old clothes off at any local H&M site around the world, and the staff in that store will see to it that your clothing gets donated.

Sometimes, the clothes go to a charity. Other times, the clothing items will turn that cool jean jacket of yours into something else that’s equally cool. The point is to find a retail store that offers a fashion-recycling program and make good use of it.

4 Tips for Shopping Ethical Fashion on a Budget

You alone must decide what ethical fashion means to you. Does it mean you won’t buy from brands that mistreat their workers or will you avoid buying clothing that has to travel halfway around the world to get to you?

Additionally, you must also decide how to keep your fashion choices economical. While buying clothes that all fit in the same color spectrum is one way to do this, you do have more options.

You can trade clothes with someone, buy quality classic fashions, or shop second-hand. All of these choices taken together add up to you having a beautiful wardrobe that’s both kind to the planet and kind to your budget, too.

What are some of the ways you try to shop ethically for your clothing? Let me know in the comments!

*You can click here to read more about one of my favorite ethical fashion brands.

4 Tips for Shopping Ethical Fashion on a Budget
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  1. This is such a great post! I have actually thought about starting to shop at vintage and resale shops for this reason. I would love to do a clothing swap. Great ideas.

  2. I also love the idea of a wardrobe swap! My sister and I used to raid each other’s closets, which sometimes caused arguments 🙂 but, if you can set some guidelines with a friend or relative (like, returning an item of clothing within a specific time period), it can be fun, and a great way to save money, and reduce environmental impact. Great post!

  3. Great post, Lindsey. I LOVE the idea of a clothes swap. I’ve been so lucky to have friends give me pieces, and I’ve done the same. But all at once (with wine and snacks) would be a ball!!
    I remember shopping in Paris (at the mall area) and being so discouraged that it was all the same brands I could get in the states. That’s why I love the boutiques so much better.

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