As humans, we all need to buy stuff, whether that's food, drink or clothing. But how often do we stop to think about how our shopping affects people, animals and the environment? Because without knowing it, every purchase we make has huge repercussions down the supply chain socially, economically and environmentally. But don't worry! You can love shopping and the world we live in. And that's where ethical shopping comes in...
What is ethical shopping?
Ethical shopping is simply shopping practices which benefit both the environment and society (both socially and economically), unlike standard shopping practices which do not. In the past decade, society has really been waking up to the negative impact of their shopping habits. This is especially the case in the global fashion industry which is largely opaque, exploitative and environmentally damaging.
The importance of ethical shopping came to the forefront of public knowledge following the tragedy of the Rana Plaza Collapse, the deadliest garment-factory accident in history. This was a structural failure that occurred on 24 April 2013 in Bangladesh, where an eight-story commercial building named Rana Plaza collapsed. This tragedy saw the deaths of 1134 factory workers and injured a further 2500, most of whom were young women working for big global fashion brands. This tragedy sparked the Fashion Revolution movement, a cause we are very proud to be a part of. Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting events we will be hosting next month for Fashion Revolution Week 2019. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to be the first to hear what's on! The Sancho's mailing list is also a good place to be, and if you sign up before midnight on Sunday 24th March, you can get 15% off any online order (+ free shipping, this week only!)
Why is ethical shopping an important part of a healthy and sustainable economy and society?
Shopping locally - especially at small, independent businesses - is great for so many reasons. Firstly, small, independent businesses are sources of employment and providers and consumers of goods and services that sustain the local economy. When you shop at chain retailers, most of the money will go back to the business elsewhere, whereas the money you spend at local businesses will directly go back into the local economy. Plus, when you shop independent, a person in your very community does a happy dance! And isn't that the best feeling, after all?
A second reason to shop locally is that buying from a locally owned business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation and less packaging. However, further to that, it is also important to ensure that the local businesses you are buying from support local ecology, minimise energy use and waste, and utilise recycled products and materials.
For example, when you shop at Sancho's, a store local to Exeter, you are not only supporting the local economy in Devon but also an environmentally friendly business! Win, win.
Shopping sustainably means shopping at ethical brands and retailers - and not just those that brand themselves as 'ethical' without actually being too kind to the environment. When buying clothes, it is important to always read the fine print to see what materials your clothing is actually made of.
Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic take hundreds of years to decompose. Those materials account for a large chunk of the clothing that’s currently sitting in landfills. Plus, synthetics require plastic and chemicals to make, and these directly contaminate water supplies. Choosing all-natural fabrics is one way to work toward a more sustainable wardrobe but also a more economical wardrobe as these pieces will last far longer. Look for organic cotton, hemp, Tencel, ethically-raised wool, and other natural fibres!
At Sancho's, we only sell items which are made from natural fabrics, which are good for the environment and good for you. To find out more about the negative effects of fast fashion, click here.
Shopping second hand
Another way of shopping ethically is to shop second-hand. Buying second-hand clothing not only saves you a heck of a lot of money but it also ensures that the second-hand clothes you purchase have an extra long lease on life, instead of going straight into landfill. There is a huge amount of textile waste in landfill. In fact, the UK discards £30 billion worth of clothing each year. That is enough to fill the whole of Wembley Stadium!
Plus, if you're buying secondhand clothing from a charity shop, you're also giving money to a good cause. And quite like shopping locally, second-hand shopping ensures your money stays in the community where it can benefit local businesses and charities.
However, there are other ways to get your hand on secondhand clothing too. For example, at Sancho's, we host regular Clothes Swaps where you can give away clothes you don't want anymore in exchange for new, secondhand clothing. Keep your eyes peeled for more exciting swap news, coming your way soon!
So if you want to begin your ethical shopping journey, shop with us at Sancho's to support a local, sustainable business! This week only, you can get free shipping on all online orders AND 15% off all orders online by signing up to our mailing list.