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How to have an authentic ethical shopping experience

How you can shop more ethically​ avoiding greenwashing & being responsible for your budget?

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Over half of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands, but as new social and eco enterprises grow, researching ethically-made labels seems a new science. Here some basics on how to become an ethical shopping expert!

When you think of an authentic, ethical shopping experience, what springs to mind? Maybe it’s a leisurely stroll around a farmers’ market choosing the fresh picks of the day with a wood-woven basket in hand. Maybe it’s minimising your plastic bag use and opting for re-usable food stations. Maybe it’s shopping and supporting local with minimal environmental impact. Whatever your preconceptions (or reality is), it’s almost impossible to get away from the fact that we live in a world filled with consumerism and elite market-share.

And the way we shop has a vast impact on our environment. 

Back in 2018, the UN released a report explaining there were only 12 years left to save our planet from irreversible climate change and if we didn’t make the change to living sustainable lives, one day, we would no longer have Earth to call our home. 

Positive ethical strides are being made across the globe and 87% of 18-24-year-olds consider supporting ethical and sustainable brands as important when shopping.

With 70% of us believing brands commit to causes to appear ‘woke’ or greener, it can be hard to know where to start your ethical shopping journey. And it can be even harder to understand how to do this authentically. 

Sustainability meanings: unwrapping the green buzzwords

How can we shop ethically when ordering online? 

Next-day delivery might just be one of the most convenient products of the 21st century. Getting what you’re looking for whilst sitting in your pyjamas on the sofa makes it even more tempting. But excessive plastic packaging, non-recyclables, and unsustainable delivery methods cause the most convenient products to come with a huge catch-22.

Whilst shopping online can decrease your personal carbon footprint, that’s only true when the delivery isn’t pressing. By succumbing to the temptation of the next-day charm, we are causing an influx of delivery trucks, drivers and container ships to make unnecessary trips all around the world. 

That isn’t to say you should never order online (shopping in pyjamas is unbeatable), but there are ways you can ensure you’re purchasing more ethically when doing so. Think about supporting local suppliers via online (if you’re unable to shop in person) and consider supporting businesses that offer upcycled or recycled products to align with your ethical focus.

Shopping ethically for your entire family

Go vintage

Over three-quarters of us want to shop more ethically but, over half of us admit we find it too expensive. The solution? The second-hand market. Not only can it offer cheaper options, but it can be full of fabulous finds you would never come across when helplessly scrolling into the abyss of an online catalogue. We’ve all been there. 

Thrifting has become a huge trend in recent years, and there will undoubtedly be some real gems hidden in your local charity shop. It’s also said that fashion repeats every twenty years, so it’s a way for us all to get ahead of the trends!

second hand market experience

Shop local 

One in four people admitted they don’t know where to start looking for ethical brands, but it can be as simple as stepping out of your front door and onto your local high street. 

With more of us willing to spend more if a brand is sustainable, it’s worth keeping in mind that you’re also far more likely to find a unique product, experience and undoubtedly better customer service. 

Shopping local offers an authenticity that money can’t buy. Often, you’re likely to become accustomed to who you’re buying from and they’ll remember your name. That family-run coffee shop nestled in the middle of your town will get to know and remember your oder. Did somebody say decaf cappuccino with coconut milk?

How to shop ethical on a budget

Find sustainable businesses to invest in 

 The benefits of reaping what you sow when it comes to shopping sustainably are second to none. By investing in businesses with sustainability at the heart of all that they do, not only are you doing your bit for the planet but, you’re also aiding them to grow, making them even more accessible for others. 

56 Extreme ways to save money & the environment

Having an entirely environmentally ethical shopping experience isn’t always totally feasible. With over 7.5 billion people across the globe, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking making small changes in your own life won’t make any significant environmental impact. The solution is understanding that we all must do our part.

It’s about being authentically consistent with your own efforts that really counts.  

How to have an authentic ethical shopping experience

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Michelle Pearce-Burke

Michelle Pearce-Burke is Chief Operating Officer at Wealthify, a UK digital wealth management service. She left medical school to pursue her longstanding passion for investing. Before setting up Wealthify, Michelle worked as a stockbroker and investment manager. Wealthify, which offers ethical investment opportunities from as little as £1, has recently launched an Ethical Consumer Guide to help people navigate more sustainable shopping experiences.

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