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15 Ethical Shopping Tips For People Who Realized That Everything Is Low-Key Unethical

Being a conscious consumer is really important. Many of us could be doing more when it comes to making sure that our money supports items and brands that are ethical and sustainable.

Teenager shopping in supermarket, reading product information
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If you're confused about the difference between the two, allow me to clarify. Ethically made items are made without using any unethical processes and materials and without engaging in unethical treatment of people, communities, and animals.

hand drawn lettering logo that reads "ethically made"
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Sustainable products don't deplete nonrenewable resources or harm the environment and are also made with social responsibility in mind.

Responsible Fashion Product Label Line Icon with recycle symbol
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Here are some tips for how you can change your shopping habits to be more ethical and sustainable.

1.Learn about fibers and fabrics.

close up of knit fibers

Natural fibers bring longevity with proper care, and they can be washed less than other fibers with maintenance. There are also some partially synthetic fabrics that have been proven to go the distance and are made sustainably.

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2.Think strategy, not quantity.

clothes hanging in closet

The whole idea of staple items in your wardrobe operates on the idea that you'll have pieces that go the distance. Buying more of those pieces and buying less trendy, fast fashion items can change your wardrobe needs and lead you to buy less in the long run.

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3.Consider what you really use.

woman examining items from her closet

Sometimes, you fall in love with something you have to have, only to buy it and for it to rot in your closet. If it's something that loses its structural integrity with time, the piece is practically wasted. Buy things that you can see yourself wearing in months AND in years.

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4.Learn about what brands are doing things ethically.

pile of clothes

Brands are offering a lot more information than ever before when it comes to how their production processes impact the environment. There are also certifications that can let you know what brands are confirmed to be using best practices.

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5.Stop buying from the ones that don't.

Fast fashion background with pile of cheap, low quality clothes

There are a lot of ways you can avoid buying from unethical producers. Unfortunately, that means skipping some trend pieces and avoiding fast fashion.

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6.Don't forget to think about worker treatment.

textile factory

Many people think ethical shopping is just linked to environmental concerns, but items made by low-paid workers in questionable conditions shouldn't be on your shopping list either. There are also larger corporate policies that can clash with your personal values, which could turn you off from a brand.

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7.Check out things that are locally made.

Shot of a fashionable Southeast Asian woman looking through second-hand clothes hanging on a clothing rack while visiting a local charity bazaar

Not only are you supporting local artisans by shopping local, but you're cutting down the effects shipping and processing can add to the environment, on top of the production of the item itself.

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8.Pay attention to packaging when you're purchasing things that will be shipped to you.

woman taking a sweater out of a package

Some brands are offsetting their carbon footprint for an additional price (cents to a few dollars, in most cases). Others package minimally to reduce their impact, but you should definitely avoid anywhere that your purchase is being wrapped in five different plastic bags on top of the shipping packaging.

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9.Consignment stores and apps are your friend.

Clothes hanging on rack

It's all about thrifting! The pieces are more unique, the prices are better, things are well-worn but still have life to them, and you can also make money selling off your own things. Seems like a winning situation all around.

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10.Bring your own bags.

reusable tote bag that says "no more plastic"

Some states have instituted policies to try to cut down on the use of plastic bags, but we can do this on a personal level as well. Bringing your own reusable bag can save you time and money while being good for the planet.

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11.Support brands that give back.

giving back

Make your dollars go the distance by supporting brands who pay it forward to worthy causes.

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12.If you're planning a trip where you intend on shopping, do your research ahead of time.

woman researching on a tablet

Purchases made on a whim don't always have the same thought going into them. Learn a little about where you'll be spending your money and how you can do so in a way that aligns with your values.

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13.Consider impact gifts instead of gifting for the sake of gifting.

person planting a sapling

If you don't have anything in particular in mind for someone, or you know they aren't into excess, consider giving an impact gift instead — like donating to a nonprofit or doing community service in their honor.

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14.If brands you love aren't doing enough, let them know.

one star review

If you find yourself having a hard time letting go of a brand you love that isn't doing the best it can in terms of ethics and sustainability, let them know what you want to see, and be prepared to pull your money if they don't follow through.

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15.Find pros in your area that can mend your well-loved pieces (or learn how to do it yourself).

shoemaker working on a shoe

Waste is a major issue, in part because people don't ask for help in maintaining clothes or personal electronics the way they once did. Take your damaged shoes to a shoemaker. Find a tech store in your neighborhood where someone can repair your laptop instead of getting a new one. Explore all your options.

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Do you have any other tips to add? Do you want to shout out some brands that are doing it right? Sound off in the comments.