A 2012 Ethical Check-In

I Bought Less
I’ve been struggling with my ethical fashion dilemmas all of 2012 (I wrote about it here, here, here, here and here: so much angst!). I haven’t been anti-consumerist, but when I shop I’ve tried to be much more conscientious about what and how much I buy. Roughly 60% of my 2012 purchases have been at charity shops.

I Stayed Away From Most Fast Fashion Meccas
I’ve stopped going to many of the high street stores that promote fast fashion (Topshop, Urban Outfitters, Zara). I still go to H&M because they’ve done the most ground work trying to create better work environments and pushing a more conscious clothing line — and sometimes you need a black blazer in a red hot hurry and you come up empty when thrifting. But I never go in and just buy things because they look fun and sparkly (not that it isn’t tempting, but I try to block out the “buy me, buy me, I’m shiny” voices). I plan out what I need and why I need it — and usually make space for it in my (very teeny) wardrobe (that I share with Matteo) by giving something else away to the charity shops.

I Stalked Ethical Sources Online and Still Didn’t Buy Much
I’ve tried to consistently shop ethical sources on line, but they are usually out of my budget or I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for even if the ethics and the price are right. People Tree* are one of my favorite online ethical shops to browse, but I only have one piece by them: this lovely madras shirt in this post. I love it to bits: hand-woven and hand-sewn — it’s one of the best-made and best-fitting items in  my closet. It’s also one of the most expensive shirts I’ve ever bought. Originally it was £65/$105, though I bought it on sale at £35/$56. That’s about ten times more than I pay for my charity-shop duds, and I know that’s out of a lot of people’s price range. But I was able to swing that because 1) it was on sale and 2) I’ve been spending a whole lot less money on clothes by shopping at charity shops and cutting down my shopping habit in general.

What About You, Lovely Readers?
Have you guys made an effort to curb your consumerism? I’m in no way critical or judging you if you haven’t. I really do think just keeping a dialog going really helps. There isn’t an easy and fast solution to these problems, but discussing them makes them less daunting, doesn’t it?

*People Tree is not a sponsor, and even though I can’t afford to buy all my clothing from them — I wish I could! They are the bees knees when it comes to ethical, more affordable clothing.


Dear Cath,

Hope your exam is going well (sending good luck vibes at this very moment!)! I really can’t wait until next Friday — already I feel like jumping around every time I think about touching down in the ATL!!! Either these next 10 days are going to be the longest days ever — or they will just fly by.




13 thoughts on “A 2012 Ethical Check-In”

  1. This post is so encouraging! I struggle a lot with buying stuff I’m not so proud of (way too many J.Crew things made in sweatshops, for instance). I think my camis and leggings from American Apparel are relatively ethical purchases, as is anything made in the USA (or local to wherever you are) and made to last. I think my biggest problem is the quantity of things I buy online and then have to return through the mail–I’m a huge carbon offender 🙁 Anyhow, I hope you keep writing on this topic.

    1. Thanks so much for talking about it, Kristen! It is hard isn’t? I find it doable with thrift shops and ethical shops in the UK online (smaller country, smaller footprint?) unless I need a specific something in a matter of days and then I usually struggle and end up popping out to a local high street shop.
      When I come home I do plan to pick up a few AA items — I love that everything is made stateside, even if the founder is a creep.
      Thanks for reading!

    1. Thanks, Kaolee! After reading a few articles on living conditions, particularly in Bangladesh (where a lot of our fast fashion is churned out) I think about it every time I shop. Obviously the answer is not to just stop shopping and force everyone out of a job, but by supporting companies that support a living wage and better living conditions hopefully that will push bigger, unethical companies to make that the norm.
      Thanks for reading, Kaolee!

  2. The only thing making me an ethical shopper as of late has been my lack of funds. While I haven’t been nearly as good as you have been with my shopping (when I do have a little bit of cash on hand), I’ve been much more conscientious about where things are from. I haven’t had much luck at thrift stores, but I find that comes in waves.

    Did you hear that Zara has promised that next year they’ll stop using toxic chemicals in their clothing? At least a step in the right direction. Still, no one beats H&M when it comes to having the biggest influence on ethically made clothing.

    Maybe I’ll start saving up for some People Tree items. I love that shirt!

    We’ll be together in a matter of days. Eeeeeek! I can’t wait!

    xoxo, cath

  3. I love this! I’ve been going through a similar change. I’ve read several articles this year about how low prices clothes are fillin our landfills and we don’t buy quality we buy quantity and I’ve taken this to heart. I haven’t bought a lot of clothing this year due to money constraints ( full time student) but I think I’ll be focusing on quality and what you wrote about inte future!

    1. That sounds so great, Windsor! Yeah that’s the other down side to fast fashion, the amount of waste it creates is just incredible! Marks and Spencer (UK chain) did a great event last year I think it was, with Joanna Lumley. They covered bits of their store in thrown-away clothes and encouraged people to put their old clothes in bins they collected to give to charity shops.
      Hope your classes are going well!

  4. I’m so impressed you can be ethical and cute!!! I am neither ethical nor cute on most days! Also, I did not know Zara used toxic chemicals. Now I’m fine with the fact that I don’t fit their stuff 😉

    1. Hahaha I bet you do look cute in all you wear! I didn’t know that thing about toxic chemicals that Zara used either! They also happen to be one of the biggest offenders in as far as fast fashion goes because they only keep lines out for two weeks and then get rid of what doesn’t sell. The up-side is some of their products are made in Europe (better living wage, supposedly), but it doesn’t quite make up for the disposability of it all.
      Thanks for reading, CL 😉

  5. I love that you made this commitment! I’ve actually, unconsciously reduced my clothes shopping lately, due to being pregnant! I just don’t see the point in buying clothes I’ll only wear for 2-3 months!


  6. Lar, HOOOORAY for you! You have been such an inspiration to me, and I have cut my spending by a LOT this year and have also avoided going into big stores and only buy things when they are on super sale and if I need them. Most of what I’ve purchased this year have been thrifted, thanks to you!

    I’ve been browsing the items at People Tree, and they have some lovely items. I will have to start saving some pennies up! AND that shirt is handwoven and hand sewn, you say? It’s gorgeous!
    ♥ laura
    the blog of worldly delights
    the shop of worldly delights

  7. Kudos to you for sticking to your principles in the face of fast fashion temptations! (And kudos too for not judging others who still shop at said fast fashion places. *blush*)

    The only ethical thing I’ve done so far has been to buy with a long-term eye for quality and personal style fit so I could buy less overall. When I was experimenting with my style, I bought a lot of pieces that didn’t feel right or weren’t really me, which resulted in a lot of closet purges. The closet-cleaning has lessened these days. In fact, the only things earmarked for donation right now are shirts that have shrunk in the wash.

  8. Behind on my blog reading, I know, but GREAT post, Lar! I am a huge fan of your posts on this topic as I am all about buying USA-made or thrift store finds or fair trade clothing. Have you checked out IOU project? I have yet to buy anything from People Tree because of the cost, but their merch is just lovely. Sadly, style and fashion are on the back burner right now ’cause I need to stock up on nursing tops. For real?? Yup, for real. xoxo

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