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What I’ve learned in a year of shopping ethically

I can’t remember the date exactly but in the summer of 2018 I made the decision to shop ethically. It’s all a bit hazy, I can’t even remember the final thing that made me decide this was what I wanted to do. Perhaps it was a gradual decision.

When I first started this blog it was all about where to find fashion on a budget. i.e. Walmart, Forever21. It was my goal to inspire others that you didn’t need to spend a fortune or wear brand names to be fashionable. (Which I still firmly believe.)

So when I started shopping ethically it was quick the 180. And as I do with everything, I jumped head in.

I didn’t have a ton of knowledge on the subject, just that a lot of brands were using sweatshops and not being nice to the planet. And transitioning from fast to slow fashion was quite the whirlwind.

That being said, it’s been a year now. Time is always so funny to me because it feels like I just cracked the surface on the journey but also I feel like I’ve been doing this for years.

what I learned in a year of  ethical shopping

Here’s what I’ve learned in a year of shopping ethically:

1. The word “ethical” means different things to different people –

There are a lot of different meanings the word ethical takes on. The human aspect was my main focus when decided to shop ethically but it turned into so much more than that.

For me I like to define ethical fashion as “slow fashion” as in at the rate we take in fashion, the human and animal treatment in the fashion industry and the care for our planet.

Some choose to shop solely based on the humanitarian aspect which others are more focused on animal welfare or the earths conservation. YOU get to decide what ethical fashion means to you.

I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to define it. That’s up to your own discretion.

2. You don’t know as much as you think you do –

I like to think I know exactly what I’m doing or what I’m talking about but that’s not always the case. Especially when it comes to a topic as broad as ethical shopping. There’s no shame in asking questions and learning new things everyday.

That’s what make this fun! Learning from one another and inspiring one another!

3. Ethical fashion is expensive –

I don’t like to sugar coat things but if you’re ready to dive into ethical shopping, be prepared. It’s more expensive than fast fashion.

But here’s a few things to note. Of course it’s more expensive. Everyone in the process is getting treated and paid fairly. Really, ethical fashion is what all fashion should be priced at when it’s done right.

We’re so used to paying very little for clothing that this seems like a daunting shift. But it’s all about changing your mindset. Ethical fashion is an investment and a good one.

You’re paying for someone else to live. You’re paying for a piece of clothing that will last you YEARS rather than months.

And there are tons of affordable ethical clothing stores to make the transition easier so don’t you worry.

You can check out my favorites here.

4. Greenwashing is a thing –

This is something I didn’t know about when I jumped head first into ethical fashion.

Greenwashing is basically when a brand says that they’re more “green” or “ethical” than they actually are. They’ll say that they’re paying fair wages and check in on their factories and care for the planet but to put it bluntly it’s a bunch of BS.

A lot of brands have what’s called a “social responsibility” page which is usually a long conjumbled mess of big words used to confuse you. I mean, if they use big word they must know what they’re doing, right? Wrong. it’s a distraction. And it happens way more than you would think.

It’s best to do thorough research before making a decision on a brand. If they’re really ethical and sustainable they’;; want to show you everything! They’ll be proud.

5. You’ll make mistakes –

As with everything in life, you’re bound to make mistakes. And that’s ok. I need you to hear me on this one.

Just like with the zero waste movement, it’s impossible to be perfect. I didn’t expect that when I started shopping ethically. I thought it would be easy. But I will admit that in this last year of ethical shopping I have purchased a few unethical items.

I could give you excuses but that’s not the point. There’s no telling when you’ll need an emergency pair of tights at the last minute or when someone will give you a gift. It happens. And it’s ok. Do your best. That’s all we can ever do.

6. It’s more accessible than you think –  

It doesn’t seem like it, especially if you live some place where there are no physical ethical clothing store around, or you can’t afford it. But like I mentioned above, there are tons of affordable options as well as hundreds of online options!

The options seem pretty endless to be honest. But if you’re serious about this way of shopping and this way of life then you’ll find a way to make it possible.

7. You’re not alone –

It can feel rather isolating being the only person you know  going through this. Especially if your friends and family don’t support the movement, know much about it or just don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

I promise there are so many people on this journey with you that you just haven’t met yet. Find your people, on Instagram, facebook groups, or shout in the street till someone comes along. (I’m just kidding don’t do that. Or do and let me know if it works.)

It’s easier when you surround yourself with like minded people.

So, that just about wraps up what I’ve learned in a year of shopping ethically. (Even more than just this, these are just the most stand out lessons.) And truth be told, I’ve really only purchased a handful of ethical items in the last year.

I’ve learned  lot about myself, my spending habits and the consumer habits that fill social media and ultimately our lives. I’ve learned to look at the world and the world of fashion through a completely different lens. And all I can say is I’m even more passionate about ethical fashion than I was the day I started some 365 days ago.

As always don’t forget to share this post and follow me on Instagram for daily ethical fashion and low waste inspiration.

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