In our current environmental climate, more and more people are looking to shop in a way that supports our planet. This can be a challenge for those on a budget since ethical brands can be more expensive due to higher manufacturing costs.
In this article, we will give our top tips for how to buy planet-friendly clothing that doesn’t break the budget.
Used clothes remain one of the best options for shoppers who want ethical clothing on a budget. This is because second-hand clothes require no new materials to make. They can change hands between owners without any additional energy, chemicals or water being used.
Buying second-hand also keeps clothing out of landfill and saves on energy used to remove and dispose of rubbish. As a bonus, used clothing costs a lot less than new and you can pick it up at thrift stores, online marketplaces, garage sales or sites like freecycle.
Choosing Ethical Fabrics
It is often assumed that natural fabrics like cotton are better for the environmental than man-made fabrics, like polyester. This is not necessarily true. Modern techniques for cotton farming have led to a lot of fertilizers and pesticides being used that seep into the soil. The best option for the environment is green fabrics that are made up of renewable fibres that are easy to produce and cultivate. They do not use much water in production and can be recycled after use.
Ideal options include linen, hemp, bamboo, alpaca, organic wool and silk.
The dyes used should also be natural and low impact. There are a few natural dyes, like indigo and cochineal that are created from animals, plants or insects.
Whilst used clothing is the best eco-friendly option, it is not always feasible to buy everything second-hand. For those moments, there are several ethical brands that can fill the gaps in your closet without compromising your values.
Here are some of the brands that we recommend that are budget-friendly and ethical:
Alternative Apparel – an L.A. based business, Alternative Apparel has a selection of casual, urban outfits for both genders. “Over 70% of the garments made by Alternative Apparel are made with sustainable processes and materials, including recycled, organic fabrics,” said Sid McKinney, a journalist at Last Minute Writing and Writinity. “Their factories are highly ethical and have strict standards for humane working conditions. With prices from $108-158 for a pair of jeans, they are a reasonable and green option.”
PACT – another US company, PACT adheres to strict social and environmental standards. All their clothing is made from organic cotton, which is made in worker-friendly factories and farmed in a sustainable way. Within their values, they promise to pay fair wages and provide a clean, safe environment for their workers.
Fair Indigo – selling online only, Fair Indigo supplies casual clothing mainly for women. With a Fair-Trade certification and GOTS certification for most of its products, it is a fantastic option.
Maggie’s Organics – selling socks and T-shirts made from organic cotton and wool, these are shipped out from their North Carolina warehouse. The organic fibres are bought directly from farmers and knitted on site. Most of their products are made in the USA and they follow Fair Trade practices with other suppliers.
People Tree – based in the UK, People Tree sell stylish women’s clothing, with a small range for men. “Most of their range is produced from organic cotton and are coloured with non-toxic dyes,” says Anne Jeffries, an eco-blogger at DraftBeyond and Researchpapersuk. “All of its products meet Fair Trade standards and in 2013, they were the first clothing company to get the official Fair-Trade logo.”
Patagonia – this brand is famously known for its outdoor gear and only uses organic cotton and recycled polyester. Patagonia declares that their “love of wild and beautiful places” inspires their promise to protect them. They have also pledged an intention to keep all factories safe and humane for their workers. In 2015, they had a range of 190 garments certified by Fair Trade. Whilst they are not the cheapest option, their products are sturdy and built to last.