Monday, 22 April 2013

Pretty in Green

I refuse to buy fruit out of season from abroad, I always buy UK meat and I'd never consider buying non-Fairtrade bananas so why am I much less picky when it comes to buying clothes?

I do think about ethical and eco-friendly clothing but since I buy clothes quite rarely (maybe one item every month or so) it's not in my normal routine. I've grown up trusting old high street favourites but the clothes in these shops just don't match my green consumer desires. Could I get just as nice, fashionable outfits and help the planet too?

I've have dabbled in green clothing in the past. Getting all excited about a bamboo top in the sale at Cotswolds, Faritrade and organic t-shirts from supermarkets and the odd Fairtrade dress bought online during Fairtrade Fortnight but my wardrobe just doesn't seem to want to make the full shift to eco-fashion.

A few decades ago there wasn't a lot of choice if you wanted clothes that didn't hurt people or the planet, and in most shops it's still tricky to find ethical outfits, but with the wonders of the internet there are many, many choices for the ethical clothes shopper today. Whether you want organic, Fairtrade, locally produced, recycled fabrics or vintage there's something for everyone, and unlike many foods you can find clothing that has several ethical labels to it's name, rather than being forced to choose between helping people or helping the planet.

Having grown up in a generation which expects to be able to buy an outfit for a few pounds I'm often a little put off by how much ethical clothing seems to cost, but in reality it's just a worrying sign of how little someone, somewhere is being paid for their work. Ethical brands are priced at the level which pays everyone a fair wage throughout the manufacturing process, and seeing the difference between a shirt in a normal high street store and an ethical brand is really startling. Also, as with any ethical item, knowing that your money is going to good, not bad, causes and that no-one is being pushed out of the market by the price makes the purchase much more pleasant.

In fact, many ethical brands are priced at a similar level to good high street brands nowadays, which makes me wonder if high street stores could produce ethical fashion without a big increase in price, if they really wanted too. Fantastic, reasonably priced, ethical brands I've discovered recently include Braintree (I love their hemp clothes), Komodo (I've never thought about organic demin before) and for the men Arthur and Henry (some very nice organic shirts you can wear without any ethical guilt!).

I've also found a very useful site for comparing highstreet store's ethical credentials on the ethical consumer website.  It's interesting to see how the different stores match up, and there are a few surprises in there too.

So there are ethical brands out there for a good price and they're very pretty and fashionable too (so you don't have to choose between looking good and doing good). Looking at all these lovely clohtes has definitely made me more determined to look harder for those ethical gems.

Hopefully my clothes shopping will be able to match my food shopping on it's greenness soon.


  1. Clothing is a tough one. I quite like the stuff on although never actually purchased from them myself... yet!

    It's so much easier to be eco-conscious when it comes to food, energy and other lifestyle things, but seeing as we all wear clothes we should probably think about it more than we do!

    Just having a look around that ethical consumer site, I like!

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for the comment, I totally agree! I hadn't seen Rapanui before. I love their MSC top .

    Ethical consumer site it great for finding out the good and the not so good.