We have snow you guys! After our unusually warm fall, winter came out of nowhere and is currently dumping six inches and counting of glorious snow! I am officially in the Christmas mood. It can’t be stopped. Sipping coffee, listening to my Pandora Christmas music station, lighting candles…sigh…this time of year is the best.
Anyway, I digress. The real point of this post is not snow or the holidays, it’s about ethical shopping options. I’ve talked a lot about fair trade but that is not the only way to shop ethically. And honestly, it’s not my first option, due to our small budget. Fair trade products are more of special purchase or splurge items for me, things I buy to round out whatever I already own. Wanna know how I shop ethically most of the time? Of course you do!
If you need a refresher as to why shopping ethically is a good idea in the first place, check out this post.
Option #1: Buy Secondhand & Gently Used Items
Buying things secondhand is what I do most often. Thrift stores, consignment shops, yard sales, vintage boutiques, Craigslist, clothing swaps, used book stores, online “thrift” stores like Thred Up or Twice…there are a million different ways to buy used and second hand items. This is my go to method of ethical shopping for a number of reasons. One, it’s something I can easily do because it’s affordable and more importantly, by purchasing gently used items we are doing a lot of good. We are avoiding the unethical labor that can be tied to new products and we are helping the environment, as new items take a lot of resources to manufacture and cause a significant amount of pollution. (source/source) To top it all off, if you choose to shop at local thrift stores many of them exist to care for the community so you are supporting excellent outreaches in your own city!
Option #2: Remake & Reuse It
So maybe this is an anti-shopping option? A long time ago I read this quote in a book about Parisan fashion: “If she loves it, she won’t toss it. She reuses, rethinks it, lets it age.” I LOVE this. I’m learning to fix the broken stuff, mend the tears and “shop” my home for things to reuse instead of immediately hoping down to Target. Pretty sheets I love but can’t use have become curtains. My daughter’s hole-y leggings turn into shorts for under her skirts. Things like that.
Living in the culture we do, it’s easy to believe we need new things all the time. As soon as we don’t like something or it breaks or gets a hole, it’s time to move on and buy something new.
For me, part of ethical shopping is learning to embrace what I have and make it work. The value in this is that we aren’t contributing to the overwhelming amount of consumption that is becoming the trademark of our generation. We are being content with the things we own instead of constantly buying more and “upgrading”. The sweatshops around the world exist in part because our culture demands more stuff. When we go along with this and buy just because we can, we are part of the problem. Does that make sense?
So, when I need things – new clothes or curtains for the house or something similar, I first decide if I really need to purchase it new. Can I re-purpose something I already own? Could I buy what I need secondhand? If neither of those options work, then I look at Fair Trade/ethical or conventional options.
This might sound like a drawn out process and just a bunch of over thinking crap – which I suppose it could be if you let it – but in reality, it just takes me a few minutes to run through my options and come up with a solution. I try not to think too hard and get caught up in making sure I make the absolute perfect decision. Because sometimes I won’t and that is okay. Sometimes I try using what I have or DIY’ing it and I fail miserably. It’s life, right?
What are some of your favorite ways to shop ethically? Let’s hear them!