By Brigette Marshall //
A few years ago, I would have considered myself your everyday mall consumer—Loft, Express, Banana Republic, and Old Navy were the staples of my wardrobe. But after reading books like Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion and watching documentaries like The True Cost, I wanted to do more to make my wardrobe more sustainable, better quality, and supportive of fair trade artisans. But as a resident of a suburban town anchored by a large mall, I didn’t know where to start.
My consensus as a mall shopper turned more conscious shopper is that there are so many great places to purchase better and more responsible alternatives to what you may need, and there is a huge variety of price points so that anybody can get involved. There are so many people that have already made this transition that are willing to give their tips and advice on how they made their consumption more sustainable.
The blogs below provide great guidance on how and where to shop—and even more, they provide this guidance in an easy-to-digest list form. Beyond fashion, these sites provide resources on shopping for home goods, cosmetics, food, technology, and travel. They provide advice and practical tips on simple living, minimalism, giving back, family life, cooking, and so much more.
Guides provide essential stats like price range, product type, ethics (i.e. artisan-made, fair-trade certified, biodegradable materials, organic selection, etc.), items the company is best known for, where to purchase the items, and where the company is based. The Editor's Picks section highlights specific ethical companies and products that the staff loves.
I personally love this site because it inspired me to find little ways to give back by making small and manageable choices throughout my day. The site acts as an “every girl” guide to help make the planet a little bit better—providing reminders to carry reusable shopping bags, eat less meat, and wash full loads of laundry.
Sustainably Chic is a blog about conscious fashion from Natalie, a blogger based in Charleston. During her time as a fashion major, she learned about the fast fashion community and decided she wanted to help make a difference and “change how things were done.”
She provides a great Brands to Love guide separated into categories such as active wear, handbags, children’s wear, accessories, loungewear, swimwear, and more. You can truly find a sustainable brand for any item you may be looking for.
The site also provides a lot of great lists to help consumers shop for clothing, tech accessories, and gifts. The easy-to-search site is split into topics such as fashion, beauty, home and lifestyle, and art and creativity. You can browse her “outfit of the day” and “sustainable finds” for ethical style inspiration.
StyleWise is written by Leah Wise, a manager of a local charity shop in Virginia, as a resource for fair trade and sustainable fashion. She aims to create a community for like-minded shoppers who want style and social responsibility to coexist.
She curated an excellent directory of women’s shops, online secondhand shops, and places to buy shoes, accessories, cosmetics, home goods, underwear, men’s clothes, food, and subscription boxes. Her “top picks” always hit the mark.
Leah’s “my moral wardrobe” outfit posts and “ethical favorites” posts provide a lot of realistic style guidance. The blog covers topics like waste (and the Zero Waste Challenge), the global supply chain, labor rights, the sustainability of different materials, and pollution.
Busy Mommy is a lifestyle blog with a focus on social good. The blog is authored by Emily, a Des Moines-based mom to a transracial family of five through biological children and adoption. She understands how hectic life is and lives a busy life herself, but strongly believes “you can live with a purpose in every busy day.” She provides sections on food, family, motherhood, social goods, and shopping. Her food section goes beyond providing recipes and also provides a list of ethical ingredients /environmentally and socially responsible food brands. The Products with Purpose section highlights ethical brands and products and fair trade subscription boxes. She highlights charitable causes like blood donation and childhood hunger.
Her Ethical Business Index is a phenomenal list with over 150 entries of companies that are fair trade, buy one give one, or donate a portion of proceeds. You can even click on the Shop Now! link to instantly shop a variety of fair trade/social good products.
Make It Ethical is a no-frills, easy-to-use ethical fashion directory, separated into categories like women’s wear, denim, accessories, shoes, loungewear, kids’ wear, toys, home, etc. The associated blog features articles about issues related to the fast fashion industry.
Styles for Thought was created by an LA-based blogger named SK to raise awareness about responsible fashion and to promote ethical brands and designers. In addition to providing style and shopping guidance, she also touches on the environmental issues related to fashion.
The Facts menu provides illustrative graphics on organic cotton versus traditional cotton, ways to pollute water, and the amount of clothing the US imports from developing countries. The Brands page provides a list of sustainable fashion brands at a variety of price points. Her blog provides a lot of useful style guidance through brand reviews and outfit of the day posts.
Mochni is a guide that focuses on eco fashion, organic beauty, healthy food, and well-being. The site provides practical tips, advice, ideas, interviews, and how-to beauty guides. You can learn how to make natural products at home and how to make your meals healthier.
Eco fashion posts provide informative articles on greenwashing, what happens to unwanted clothes and the environmental impact of textiles that end up in landfills, what makes fashion sustainable (focusing on worker’s rights, environmental responsibility, animal welfare, and corporate responsibility), and the rise of the intelligent consumer that is helping to make sustainable fashion the future.
Simply Liv & Co is a minimalism-focused lifestyle blog written by Olivia, a mother of two, who has been on a journey towards more simple living. She fills her blogs with practical tips that she’s used on her journey and shares her experiences on minimalism, motherhood, and where to shop for ethical pieces. She has great tips on focusing your priorities, clearing the clutter, and being more mindful and intentional.
Her resources page provides a great list of the best places to buy affordable ethical fashion, with guidance on price range. You can also shop her favorite pieces through the Shop Our Favorites link and browse her capsule wardrobes.
Following the advice of these more experienced ethical shoppers helped me to discover some of my new favorite brands and pieces. The following are my favorite lists curated from these sites that may help you find your new favorite company, cause, or product:
Photo Credits: Click each photo for source.
This story was written by Brigette Marshall. In addition to being a Society B customer, she is a writer, a mother to an energetic toddler named Kate, and a wife to a goofy husband that runs their kitchen like his own personal restaurant. She works as a project manager for an educational publishing company, volunteers at a gym day care center, and is working on an MBA in Organization Development. In her free time, she tries to train for upcoming races and keep up with her long reading list. She likes browsing thrift stores, flea markets, and garage sales for items to add to her small and already crowded townhouse; exploring local breweries and wineries with her husband and friends; and keeping up with her guilty pleasure—the Bachelor.