How to be an Ethical Consumer | Georgina Wilson-Powell from Pebble Magazine
You don’t need to sign up to never buying anything again to be an ethical consumer, but you do need to be more conscious about your purchasing. Georgina Wilson-Powell, founder of stylish, sustainable living magazine, pebble, has five tips for shopping more ethically this winter.
Do you really need it?
Want a new pair of jeans? Count to 10. Bookmark it. Sleep on it. One of our biggest challenges across the world is that of overconsumption. From fast fashion that’s now almost supersonic to disposable cutlery, we have put convenience and ‘want it now’ over common sense. We literally don’t have any more room for us all to buy more and throw it away a year later.
Take a more mindful approach to stuff and try to live with less.
One of the most budget friendly - and easiest - things you can do to be a more ethical shopper, is shop secondhand. There are more than enough clothes in the world for us all, even if the entire fashion industry shut up shop tomorrow.
Buying secondhand clothes especially saves using up yet more virgin materials and ever more factory emissions. Charity shops have stepped up lately, Crisis, TRAID and Oxfam Fashion are trend-led and echo what you’ll find on the high street while pop-up secondhand boutiques, vintage fashion through Etsy and Depop and clothing swaps and swishes are more prevalent than ever before. You can even get your vintage on demand, with new monthly box subscription businesses.
Buy from social enterprises
Social enterprises, businesses which give a portion of their profits to charities or programmes that want to make a positive impact, have changed beyond all recognition from the slightly hippy, activist past.
From the award-winning Toast Ale (made from surplus bread) giving all their profits to food waste charity Feedback, to The Soap Co, who make luxury skincare by hand. 80% of their 100 staff are blind, disabled or otherwise disadvantaged as a step into employment. There’s no end of options and opportunities to make the money in your pocket work harder.
Repair and reuse
Look after your stuff. Whether it’s a coat or a toaster, the better you can care for it and repair it, the more money you’ll save and it’s better for the environment. We want to be keeping stuff out of landfill as much as possible. Repair Cafes have sprung up all over the UK where you can take electronics and clothes to be repaired - the volunteer experts are there to show you how to mend things - a skill we seem to have thrown out like an old printer.
I’ve also seen a huge increase in the number of sewing, darning and knitting workshops and classes pop up this year. Don’t assume you can’t learn a new skill, no matter how old you are. You might even make some new friends.
There’s a saying floating around the social media scene along the lines of ‘Every time you buy from a small business, someone somewhere does a little dance.’ Supporting smaller, independent businesses means you’re putting money directly into other people’s pockets - not a global corporation.
While it’s sad the physical high street everywhere has declined, technological advances have made it so much easier for entrepreneurs to set up shop online and there are some incredible ethical brands out there, from swimwear to sustainable packaging, ethical fashion to organic skincare. For a dose of inspiration, subscribe to pebble magazine’s weekly issue.
Georgina Wilson-Powell has been a publisher, editor and journalist for 17 years. pebble magazine covers food, fashion, travel and design with an ethical edge. Find it on Instagram here.