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The never-ending quest for ‘ethical’

All too often, the quest to buy ‘ethical’ or ‘eco’ items leads us to shops full of over-priced, over-hyped items; items, which, if we are being truthful, we don’t really need. That’s why one of the best ways to shop ‘ethically’ is to NOT SHOP! If you don’t need it; don’t buy it.


Whenever possible: reuse – upcycle – borrow – share.

However, there are obviously going to be times when you really do need to buy something. If there is something you need and you have already ruled out reusing items, upcycling, borrowing or sharing, your next step is to consider where you are going to buy the item from.

"It's only single-use if you use it once." - @sarah.robertson.barnes

Go pre-loved

Second-hand or 'pre-loved' is your next best option. You can pick up some brilliant bargains if you are willing to take the time to browse. Last Christmas, almost all of the presents I bought for my daughters came from either Facebook Marketplace, Ebay or from browsing through local charity shops. And they were good quality presents, I assure you.

Children's clothing

Going pre-loved is an especially good idea when it comes to children's clothing. Children grow out of clothes all the time, which is why buying second-hand clothes is not only cost-effective but also the best option for our planet.


Heading down to your local charity store is a great idea and you will be surprised by some of the quality items you can find there.


Some of the charities have online stores too, so it’s worth checking that if you prefer to shop online at the moment. Oxfam has a very good online store.

Garage Sale Clothes

Pre-loved clothes stores

If you are looking for more consistent quality, there are some fabulous online stores that specialize in buying and selling good quality second-hand children’s clothes.


I've listed some of my favourites below. We have had some amazing purchases from some of these. Most of the clothes look almost brand new and have lasted for ages. The listed stores are all UK-based since that's where I am, but if you know of others in the UK or further afield, please drop me an email.


Katie's Kids Clothes

Sweet Pea Preloved Clothes

Build a Bundle

Mini Boden Preloved

Nikkie's Wardrobe is a great resource for learning about ethical shopping. Click the button below for more ethical shopping advice:

White Grass

Check the ethics

If you do need to buy new – and sometimes we all need/want to – make sure the retailer’s values match your own. Not all companies are particularly transparent when it comes to supply chains, environmental policies, and modern slavery policies, so you might need to do some research.


The textiles and fashion industries are MASSIVE and they need to be held accountable for their actions. Aside from the fact the fashion industry has a hugely negative impact on the environment, many well-known high street stores still use supply chains that have been linked to modern slavery

As consumers, it our responsibility to check where our clothes (and other purchases) are coming from. It is worth taking the time to research. Friends of the Earth suggest subscribing to Ethical Consumer so that you can stay up to date with which retailers match your values.


If you are looking for alternative places to get your hands on books (and when I say alternative, I mean 'not from Amazon'!), there are a few places to look.

World of Books is an online second-hand book retailer with a huge selection. 

Wordery sell new books online and they seem to have a more ethical mission statement than other book retailers.

Indie publishers and authors. There are lots of smaller publishers and indie authors who are publishing really wonderful books right now. You can often buy directly from their websites, and not only are they often more ethical than some of the larger publishers, you will also be supporting a small business when you buy from them. A good place to start looking for these indie publishers and authors is on social media.  If you find an author or small publisher who you like, let your friends know about them.

Follow @zero.waste.collective on Instagram for some much-needed ‘truths’ and waste-free living inspiration.

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