Ethical & Sustainable Clothing - Good for the Planet, Good for Your Wallet

Guys I was blown away by the postive responses to last weeks climate change blog! I had been so dishearted in the days after the climate report came out. The news was still covering the same shite and suddenly no one was talking about how life as we know and enjoy it could change drastically in TWELVE years if we dont start making some conscious changes NOW and considerably over the next two years.

So I wanted to tackle some key areas that we, the humans of this lovely planet can change now regardless of what politicians and industry are doing, they can thank us later. This is a key thing to remember - while you may not own a huge agri business or an automotive factory, your money matters - what you choose to spend it on matters and will shape the businesses of the future as well as the health of the planet. I take great heart from this and it lessens the anxiety when I see so many countries governments rolling back on their environmental promises.

So the first area I was to tackle is fashion & textile, I put up a series of insta stories ( its saved in the highlights) this week on some of my top tips for affordable ethical fashion and ye were keen for more, to here’s some insight on how I shop ethically without breaking the bank.

The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world in terms of chemical contamination of waterways and fast fashion is literally clogging up the worlds trash dumps. The horrific slave labour working conditions of garment workers exploited and enslaved by fast fashion retailers, are some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Instead of giving you a load of stats here I implore you to please please please go and watch the Netflix documentary The True Cost. I promise this is not a horrific shock-umentary, but it will make it so clear to you that fast fashion has to go NOW that you will be able to give up Penny’s instantly. But then what do you do? I gotcha covered :)

My 80:10:10 Rule

80% second hand/hand me downs

10% ethical high street

10% serious serious ethical/world changing brands

To be clear this is a starting point for affordably clothing yourself and outfitting your home, you can play with the percentages yourself, but I promise you that this method has literally cut my clothing/homeware spend probably in half and also cut out all low quality items that need frequent replacing. So not only do I save perfectly good clothing from landfill by going second hand, I also reduce the amount that I’m moving on by having high quality items.

Shopping Tips

When you go from fast fashion to this type of shopping it can help to do a few things to help you at the start.

I suggest a bit of snooping around on Youtube for videos on capsule wardrobes, minimalist style stuff like that.

Then go through your wardrobe and see what you love, what you could sell or donate and finally (most fun bit) make a list of things that you feel would make your wardrobe “complete”.

This list is gold, really have a think about it and also include items that maybe you think you cant currently afford as these may actually be attainable from charity shops or designer consignment stores. I carry this around in my wallet, diff list depending on the season. Its great for stopping my from buying crap I dont need and for focusing me if I’m going on a hunt in a thrift store. As you work through the list you’re creating a wardrobe full of outfits you love. Bonus note you’ll feel great in these!

80% Second Hand Tips

So second hand for me works three ways - hand me downs from friends and family, charity shops (great because its going to a good cause) and designer consignment stores.

Mates & Family

This one is fun, maybe your mom has some vintage bits you could borrow, or siblings/ friends that could lend you something for a special occasion. With the rise of social media the need to have a different outfit for diff occasions has led to tons of extra spending. I share with friends of a similar size or there are even sites like depending on where you live. A clothes swap party is also great for big groups of friends and a mix of sizes.

Charity Shop

I get the bulk of my stuff here you just need to get good at hunting. Like I said love thy list and dont by hungry/short on time when you go.

Look for item that are classic styles and not damaged (though if you can sew you can decide this yourself and also have more wiggle room on sizes).

Things I look out for - high quality demin, wool coats, real wool jumpers, lightly/unworn shoes (rare), denim jackets, formal wear, curtains

You can still follow latest trends just with a twist - headbands are a big thing this year - they one is made with a vintage scarf

You can still follow latest trends just with a twist - headbands are a big thing this year - they one is made with a vintage scarf

Things to avoid - bed linen, underwear and swimwear, tightfitting clearly worn/discoloured tops (usually cotton)

Random bonus - also great for kitchenware and books

Channelling my inner Paddington Bear in this charity shop Reiss Coat

Channelling my inner Paddington Bear in this charity shop Reiss Coat

Top finds have included - unworn ugg boots for €5, Reiss coat (usually ~ €450) for €14 and Whistles jumper for €3

While I wouldn’t normally buys swimwear second hand, I picked up this bikini top, tags still on, for 3 aussie dollars this year!

While I wouldn’t normally buys swimwear second hand, I picked up this bikini top, tags still on, for 3 aussie dollars this year!

Designer consignment

These guys make high quality (and usually ethically made) items very affordable and they are often unworn (gifts that are unwanted). You are keeping a garment in the wearing cycle longer and it creates jobs based on the second hand economy instead of always relaying on new things.

Some of my favourites include House of Portobello in Galway and Siopaella in Dublin.

Great for - high quality handbags and luggage, pretty much all clothes, wallets, shoes etc

Top finds for me have included - Ugg Boots for €50 and Karen Millen formal gown unworn €125

If you have designer goodies yourself that you dont like anymore this is a great place to sell them off. Some relics from the celtic tiger years literally paid my groceries for a few weeks back in college!

Double win - Karen Millen dress from House of Portobello Galway and Mom’s vintage pearl jacket

Double win - Karen Millen dress from House of Portobello Galway and Mom’s vintage pearl jacket

More Ethical High Street

Let me be very clear that no one I mention in this post is sponsoring me in anyway, its simply how I shop and what works for me. I’d like to pretend that I’ve found more then just Marks & Spencers on the high street doing much ethically, but sadly I’m not currently aware of anyone else. Companies bringing out things like “conscious collections” extra piss me off as they’re just highlighting the fact that the rest of their stuff then must be utter…. Here’s a link to an article with M&S after the Rana Plaza Collapse. They are by no means perfect, but I do believe it better to buy from them then completely unethical high street stores.

For M&S I get all the stuff I wouldnt like to get second hand or perhaps cant yet afford from fully ethical leader companies - such as pjs and underwear.

Ethical Game Changers

These are the brands that are actively doing their bit to change they world, with things like tree planting, 1% for the Planet, advocating and donating to specific charities, championing workers rights and providing income to marginilised communities. They’re also doing things like creating clothing from recycle fabrics, ocean plastics etc.

Some faves included (but not limited too! please go find more!);

Grown - Disclaimer being I do collaborate with these guys, but because I love them! 1% for the planet, trees for t’s campaign, organic materials and low water usage, these guys are leaders in their field and have the awards to show it! Think soft t’s, hard wearing denim shirts & cosy cover ups.


Finisterre - A leader on all things green check out their Broadcast on the site for interesting experiments with ocean friendly and second hand materials. These guys are a great go to for outerwear, cosy down jackets, woolly geansais, wetsuits, base layers you name it. They use natural fibres like marino wool, have great ethical practices for both humans and animals and when I met the gang this year for a shoot it was so cool to see they practice what they preach with every crew person interested in better food practices, transport, fashion the works!

Sustainable fashion with sustainable food - this summers Finisterre Shoot

Sustainable fashion with sustainable food - this summers Finisterre Shoot

Patagonia - I mean we all know it, but when I heard the How I Built This podcast episode with the founder of Patagonia I jumped on the bandwagon too, they love to repair their stuff so you can wear it forever, they give their stocks to their employees and they have a site for their second hand gear!

Meindl Hiking boots - post back your boots when the soles bust and they will rebuild them for you, extending the life of your boots indefinitely if you look after them! proudly sweatshop free these guys are made in the UK. Often people think the “green” version of something is going to be less attractive or maybe at least not bright and pretty, but these guys literally make you look like a mermaid!

Verdura Shoes - elegant italian shoes made from ghost fishing nets, I havent got them yet but they are on my list, made in Tuscany - cleaning the oceans and ethical labour to boot!

Vibram Shoes - have developed a shoe using algae instead of plastic and are pioneers of the barefoot shoe idea - if you’re into running check it out, my favourite book on it is Born to Run. Check out the algae shoes here.

Guys this is just scratching the surface but I hoped this has helped on your path to shopping more sustainably. As always I’d love to hear your thoughts here in the comments or on my insta !!!

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