The Winter Sales are an exciting chance to pick up your favourite products at better prices. Sales are, however, associated with overproduction and consumerism, making many shoppers question whether they should indulge in deals that sound too good to be true. In this blog post we’ll draw back the curtain on Winter Sales to reveal our top tips for shopping ethically! Of course, in case you want to skip straight to the action you can view our ethical sales for men and women…
What Does Shopping Ethically Mean?
Ethics are the values that guide us. They are moral principles that distinguish between what’s good and bad for other human beings. Being an ethical shopper means that you look beyond the prices to single-out products that don’t perpetuate slavery, exploitation, or environmental destruction. You may think that all modern goods are this way inclined, but sadly many industries are associated with unethical practices. Among them is fashion.
January-February is the best time to pick up discounts on warm winter clothing. Canny ethical shoppers will want to benefit from these offers, but should also note that fast fashion sales are built on a foundation of low wages, waste creation, and pollution. Fast fashion contributed to a 36% drop in garment usage lifetime from 2000-2015 and many mid-priced brands do not guarantee their workers a living wage.
That’s why it’s essential to pick sustainable fashion brands that show evidence of good ethics.
Check The Label
Companies that make a difference to society often communicate this in the descriptions (online) or labels (in-store) of their products. Nonetheless there are ingredients that you’ll want to avoid for ethical reasons. These include: Palm Oil, Polyester, PFAS (usually found in waterproof linings), Mica, Micro-beads, and Parabens.
Now more than ever, shopping ethically and the topic of sustainability are deeply entwined. That’s because products that have a high carbon footprint also have an impact on other humans. As is being widely stated, the people who have done the least to cause Global Heating are the people most affected by it. To shop ethically, consider the environmental impact of the products you buy.
Think about the materials that have gone into the product you’re looking to buy at a discount. Are they sustainably sourced or Fair Trade? For clothing, you’ll want to double check the company’s website and Eco Page for more information. Shopping ethically will involve gravitating towards the materials that are eco-friendly and/or durable.
Shopping ethically during the Winter Sales involves considering which is better for people and planet: shopping online or shopping in-store? When it comes to sales the best deals are not only online, they can also be conducted in a way that’s better for the environment.
As the NYT’s Wirecutter magazine reported in 2021, “the consensus among independent researchers is that online shopping can in fact be much less damaging to the environment than traditional, in-store shopping—but only if we do it the right way.” They note that this relies on delivery companies filling their vans to capacity: “one van delivering 50 packages is much more efficient than 50 people driving to the store.” One of the key ways consumers can help is by not using the express shipping option as this inevitably involves couriers taking multiple trips to meet shipping deadlines.
To fully check if the brand you’re shopping from is ethical, you’ll also need to consult their website. There’s no two ways about it: Winter Sales are better online.
The less you shop, the more good you can do. When shopping ethically, focus your buying power on higher quality items that last to ensure that you’re not contributing to overconsumption. Overconsumption means buying way more items of (clothing, technology, beauty products etc) than you can actually use and enjoy. This is a side-effect of Winter Sales, and should therefore be monitored even more closely during this time. As our interview with master minimalist, Fumio Sasaki, revealed, there is more happiness to be found in having fewer things.
Be Picky With Packaging
Single-use plastics are a big ethical problem. If shopping in-store be sure to bring your generously sized TWOTHIRDS tote. If shopping online during the Winter Sales, make sure the brands you buy from package their goods plastic-free.
Look For Certifications Like B Corp™
Certification is a good marker of a company’s seriousness with regards to ethics and sustainability. Here’s a breakdown of what’s out there:
- Climate or Carbon Neutrality from Climate Partner. Designates when a company has monitored, reduced, and offset either their company and/or product footprint.
- B Corp. A community of over 6,000 businesses who stand for social and economic system change. The “B” stands for “benefit for all”.
- GOTS. Global Organic Textile Standard.
- BCI. Better Cotton Initiative.
- Fairtrade. Products which carry the fairtrade logo contain raw materials that have been bought by the producer at a fair price. This means no slavery or exploitation.
We have a big announcement coming soon on the topic of certification, so be sure to check our feed for more info!
Shop Recycled Products
Shopping ethically during the Winter Sales is an amazing chance to pick-up your first recycled garment or product. Why recycled? The ethical issue with sales is the level to which they either excuse or create waste. If the products you choose to buy are recycled, they’ll be turning past waste into future value. In fashion, this is very important - around 90 million tonnes of textiles are wasted every year.