Ethical fashion is not the cheapest to uphold. And for good reason. As the whole idea of shopping ethically is to prevent labour abuse and pollution. But what do you do when you’re a student?
Well, that’s what I’m here for. I’m going to tell you how to shop ethically on a student budget.
As a student myself I can relate to wanting to buy quality pieces that help the earth and our people. But without earning a full-time income, I can’t buy myself a full ethical closet.
Nevertheless, I have found alternative ways of shopping ethically that fit well within my budget.
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So let’s get into it. This is everything I do to make sure my closet is ethical:
4 Tips to shop ethically on a student budget
Shop your closet
The first rule of ethical fashion is to use what you already have. The way I do this is by following the 30 wears rule.
I make sure I wear each item 30 times before I’m allowed to throw it out. By doing this you can make sure that you get the proper use out of your clothes.
You can also create your own personal lookbook to make it easier for yourself to get the most out of your wardrobe. I have a whole post on the benefits of having your own lookbook if you’re interested in that.
The next thing I do is taking care of my clothes. Make sure to only wash your clothes when they’re dirty and not after each wear.
Don’t wash them in hot water and hang them out to air dry. Shake them out so they don’t need to be ironed that much.
By following these care instructions you preserve the colour and fibres of your clothes so they last way longer than they normally would.
Some of your clothes might also need to be mended. What I do when my clothes look old is to use a bobble-off machine.
Another thing that can help you wear all your clothes and ‘have something to wear’ every day is to create outfits for yourself. Make a list of all the possible things you can wear together and have it on display in your closet.
You can even put all your outfit ideas on and take pictures so you have a lookbook to fall back on. This way you always have an idea of what you want to wear visually ready for you.
It will also help you see any gaps in your closet that you can fill with ethically made clothes.
Go to thrift stores
The next best thing is to buy secondhand. Thrift stores tend to be cheaper or the same price as retail stores, making it a great way to shop ethically on a student budget.
But the reason thrifting is ethical is that these clothes have already gone through the fast fashion cycle.
Buying them not only means you won’t participate in unethical labour and pollution, but you are lessening the material waste that goes to landfill.
Thrift stores are also normally owned by local people, so buying from them helps support them and the local economy.
Exchange and borrow
I have a sister, mom and cousins who are about my size. Sometimes even my brother and I share a size.
There’s this thing we do in our house where our clothes rotate from one person to another until none of us can wear them anymore.
We also borrow each other’s clothes when we get bored with our own. And I think it’s awesome because there is always something to wear.
Nothing goes to waste. I have saved so much money from borrowing and exchanging clothes with my family.
You can even make it fun by hosting an exchange party. You can invite your friends and family over and tell them to bring the clothes they don’t wear anymore.
Then you can create a ‘shop’ in your living room and everyone can take as many clothes as they brought.
Not only does borrowing and exchanging clothes create a fun experience for you and your friends, but you ease the pollution caused by throwing clothes away.
And just like thrifting, you won’t participate in unethical labour and more pollution.
Shop ethical fashion
If all else fails and you can’t find something you need, or you just really need something new, now is your chance to shop ethically.
Ethical fashion companies compensate all the employees in the clothing process fairly for their work. They also follow practices that decrease pollution and avoid mass production.
Assess your closet and see where you need to fill in the gaps with a versatile item. You might need to save up for what you want but it will be a quality piece that lasts you for years.
Make sure the pieces you buy aren’t just trends. Trends end with the season, but classic pieces stay in style forever. Get yourself pieces that will always be in style.
If leather is your thing but you’re worried about carbon emissions and sustainability, Corkor has your back.
Their cork is FSC certified, they use practices that are safe for the environment and they produce locally. They even have cork slippers, which excites me a lot.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful.
Let me know in the comments if you have more tips for shopping ethically on a student budget.
And don’t forget to check out Corkor when you need new ethical fashion pieces.
Cheers for now,
Pin for later:
- A Beginner’s Guide to Ethical Fashion
- Implement circular fashion into your closet
- Why you should create your own personal lookbook