Ethical shopping does more than positively impact the business or artisan your dollars are going to. When you choose to shop ethically, you support a standard of business that values people more than profits. Everytime we spend money, we have a chance to vote for the kind of world we wish to see with our dollars. Voting for a world full of empathy and ethics is just the kind of world we’d like to see.
You can shop ethically for your wardrobe, accessories, household goods, and more by implementing these 5 ways to shop more ethically.
1. Spot fast fashion, and conscious alternatives
Due to rapidly changing trends, coupled with cheap clothing being available in abundance, the average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year -- up by nearly 400% in the last few decades. Fast fashion brands are available seemingly everywhere you look, but here are a few easy ways to spot them:
- Hundreds, if not thousands, of styles -- all of which are directly related to recent pop culture trends, runway collections, and celebrity outfits
- Oversees manufacturing where labor is cheap, unethical, and complex supply chains create little to no visibility on the working conditions of those making the products
Cheap and low quality materials (keep an eye out for polyester) which can cause clothes to degrade after just a few wears or washes
Saying no to fast fashion doesn’t mean you can’t shop for styles that you saw in a magazine or that are trend-relevant, but you may need to extend your research before adding a new garment to your collection. Try thrifting, online resale platforms like ThredUp and Poshmark, as well as paying up for ethical products that you will end up buying less of. We can still embrace the sustainable practices of our ancestors, such as utilizing resources from the land to make clothing, while curating a wardrobe that brings joy.
- Use what you have, then focus on investment pieces
Being mindful of what you already have is a very important place to start when moving towards more ethical and sustainable shopping. For items that are already in your wardrobe, decide whether it feels right to continue wearing them for the remainder of their life, donate them, or repurpose the fabric.
For items in your kitchen, like plastic bags or tupperware, try to use up what you already have before investing in reusable bags or glass storage containers. These practices of using what you already have will reduce additional and unnecessary waste, as well as give you time to start planning and budgeting for when you would like to begin adding timeless, ethical, and sustainable pieces to your life. A few additional things to keep in mind for your future investment pieces:
- Use your intuition and curiosity to help guide you as you explore co-ops, artisans, and fair-trade companies to purchase from. Companies that hold ethical commitments result in high quality products that you can be proud of.
- Investment pieces should be created to last, and taking the time to curate fewer pieces that will last longer will have about the same impact on your budget as a surplus of items that will only last a short time.
- Many ethical brands will provide discounts for signing up for their newsletter, as well as send out exclusive deals to that list. Take advantage of being a part of an ethical community.
- Invigorate small businesses with your dollars
Supporting small businesses has become more accessible than ever, as many small businesses have had to adapt to reach the most amount of people. When you shop small, you keep money in your local community instead of handing it to large corporations and their shareholders.
Making the effort to research what small businesses may carry the goods you are already looking for is a simple way to incorporate shopping small. For example, instead of going to Amazon to pick out more eco-friendly alternatives for your home when the time comes, see what small businesses might be selling similar products. Alternatively, if you are simply looking to browse small businesses in the same way you might explore shops at the mall, try using the hashtags #smallbusinesslove, #localboutique, or #supportsmallbusiness on Instagram or TikTok. An assortment of amazing shops, vendors, and artists work hard to ensure they are easy to find by keeping up with their social media presence.
- Utilize B Corporation’s Business Directory
Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. As stated on their website,
“Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.”
The B Corp Directory can be used to assist you in finding certified B Corporations in your area, or around the world. The directory also has the functionality to search by industry, so the next time you want to explore ethical pet products, sports equipment, electronics, and more -- start with the B Corp Directory.
- Know other trusted labels to look for
There are already many co-ops, certifications, and organizations that work to ensure ethical brands are easily visible, as well as held to a high standard of business. Not only are these seals of approval helpful for you as a consumer, but consuming products with these labels also influences political action. This means that if we as consumers continue to seek out and buy from ethically certified brands, more companies and businesses will certify.
- Fair Trade USA Certified
- This means fair pay and fair treatment for both employees and anyone in the supply chain
- Use this seal to find : companies that support social fairness, ethical treatment, community development, and environmental responsibility
- Social Accountability SA8000
- Provides a global framework across all industries for fair treatment of their workers
- Use this symbol to find: companies that ensure fair working hours, wages, and working conditions for employees. (Please note this symbol is harder to find because it is the factories and facilities that are certified, not the actual brands. Companies will typically mention their SA8000 on their site)
- 1% for the Planet
- Businesses that become 1% partners donate 1% of sales to approved nonprofits
- Use this symbol to find: environmentally conscious companies/employers that care about ethics and the environment
Ixchel Triangle is committed to creating artisanal products with the ethics that matter now, and for the next generation’s future. Our one of a kind investment pieces are created to last, and are meant to help you move away from having a surplus of products that will only last a short time. Shifting towards conscious consumerism and shopping more ethically is a journey; we are honored that you have taken the time to walk alongside us. Let’s continue to encourage, enlighten, and love one another!