If you are part of a family, with little time to research how to shop ethically and with a reduced budget to pay for sustainable or fair trade goods, here is a useful guide to get you started!
Knowing where to start when it comes to ethical shopping can be difficult as there is so much to consider. It is important that we are aware of the impact that our consumer choices might have on people and the planet, yet this can be quite daunting and overwhelming.
So, here are a few simple things you can do to make sure you are shopping ethically for all the family. It might take a bit more consideration and perhaps time than shopping conventionally, yet you know you will be supporting ethical businesses and you might also save some money in the process!
Look For Labels
Whenever you are shopping, it is important that you look for labels that are evidence that your product has been ethically produced. For example, look for independently certified products with one of these labels as identified by the Ethical Consumer:
- Organic (The Soil Association) – ensures a product is made up of at least 95% organic materials.
- Vegan (The Vegan Society) – ensures a product is fully vegan and no animals were harmed or exploited in the process of making the product.
- Fairtrade (The Fairtrade Foundation) – ensures that the supply chain involved in the production of that product is fully ethical.
- Cruelty Free (Cruelty Free International) – ensures products were manufactured without the involvement of animal testing.
- Fair Wear (Fair Wear Foundation) – ensures clothing has been produced in fair working conditions.
How to read to truly UNDERSTAND a label when buying organic and natural brands?
Unless you know that a brand is ethical from past experience, look for these labels when you are shopping. This goes for both food and clothing.
Upcycle Pre-Loved Furniture
One of the best things you can do to be ethical and eco-friendly is to buy things second hand where possible. It prevents things from going to landfill unnecessarily and will reduce emissions significantly.
Visit flea markets, online marketplaces and charity shops and see what you can find. Look primarily for the shape you are wanting, as it is easy to change anything else aesthetically. You’d be surprised at the difference a few coats of paint and a good clean will make! The best bit of all, you will be saving yourself plenty of money.
You will be able to find fantastic pieces for every room in the house. Get your children involved in the process and they will soon learn how rewarding the process is. This could instill a lifelong interest in ethical shopping.
Buy Local Produce
Whilst imported goods are sometimes unavoidable, you should shop locally where possible. You will access fresher seasonal produce that won’t have been transported far. This will significantly reduce carbon emissions and excessive packaging materials that are used to help the produce survive the journey.
Local produce is usually presented naturally on stands and is sold by weight, meaning you are less likely to find it heavily packaged in plastic. Buying fruit and vegetables grown by local farmers will help to support the farming industry in the UK, as well as reducing the probability of housing being built on farmland which is a growing concern. Whilst consuming meat and dairy isn’t the most ethical option available, if you do choose to, make sure to source them locally.
Visit Charity Shops
Similarly to upcycling the furniture, buying pre-loved clothes should be a priority of yours. Something that someone else has given away could be exactly what you are looking for! Not only are you reducing waste but you will be helping much needed charities to continue to help people. You’ll find anything from books to furniture and coats to shoes, so it is worth having a good look every so often.
Also, if you need to get rid of anything, head to charity shops first. It is always worth taking your old clothes or household items to charity shops when you no longer need them as they could be useful to someone else. Even ripped clothing is sometimes accepted as it can be sold on to be used in textiles.
Before making a purchase, just try to be mindful. Implementing small changes will make a big difference, especially when you include your children in your decision making. They are more likely to go on to make a lifetime of good decisions.