5 Ways You Can Support Ethical Fashion Without Spending a Penny

Friday 27 November 2020

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Whenever discussions around sustainable and ethical consumption happen, they inevitably come around to the topic of inaccessibility and the costs this can take. Products which are sustainable and ethical should naturally cost more than products which are unethical (for example with the simple act of paying workers a living wage), but at the same time, this often means excluding a significant number of people from being able to buy these products. I talk more about privilege and sustainability in my post We Need to Talk About Privilege and Sustainable Fashion, but I want to emphasise the fact that we need to fight for wage increases globally, and to avoid placing blame on consumers who don’t have the privilege to be able to shop sustainably and ethically, and instead focus that blame where it belongs: on the billionaire brand owners. It can still be frustrating when feel like you can’t take action on a cause you care about for whatever reason, so here are some ways you can support ethical and sustainable fashion without spending a penny!*

*It is important to note that while these actions don't require immediate payment, most do require Internet access. 

1. Contact fast fashion brands and ask them for change

Tell fast fashion companies that you disagree with their actions. Tell them you want to know more about their supply changes, who makes you clothes and how much they’re paid. Ask them about the materials they use, the chemicals, safety procedures and recycling policies. 

That sounds scary. I know, I’m sorry. It’s daunting. But you don’t have to email them if you don’t want to, and instead start contacting them on social media. Tag them in Instagram stories highlighting their policies, tweet them (for example during promos such as #PrettyPleasePLT) and comment on their posts (if the comments haven’t been turned off). Contacting brands on social media is a very quick and easy way of getting to brands directly, so if you’re limited on time, this could be the way to increase your impact.

Oh So Ethical compiled a list of contact details of companies who have not paid for cancelled orders after the impact of coronavirus and lockdown, with links and templates to tweet and email them. This can be accessed here. If you do want to email brands, I would encourage you to do so. You may not get the best replies (if any), but it fills inboxes with these pressing issues. 

Do be respectful and mindful of how you speak to them though. They may just be a logo, a face of a corporation, on your screen, but there is at least one real life person behind that screen, and it’s not the social media manager who is exploiting garment workers and they should not receive abuse simply because they’re dependent on the same billionaire who does exploit garment workers.  

2. Sign petitions

Petitions are everywhere, and some argue that they do nothing, but I disagree. They show governments, organisations and companies that you care and want your voice to be heard. The #PayUp petition by Remake Our World calling for companies to pay up after refusing to pay for orders that had already been made following coronavirus disruptions, has had huge successes. At the time of writing, it is estimated that the #PayUp campaign has unlocked $1 billion for suppliers in Bangladesh and $22 billion globally, with 19 brands committing to pay for canceled orders.  

As well as the #PayUp petition, there are lots more you can sign and it takes less than a minute to sign them. Several fashion related petitions have been compiled by Oh So Ethical and International Labor Rights Forum, which you can access here and here

3. Unfollow fast fashion brands on social media

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re one of the 3.8 billion people using social media worldwide. Even though you’re in a pool with literally half the world, each one of those active social media accounts has an impact and has even a little bit of power. You can use this power and stop giving fast fashion companies your public approval by unfollowing them on all social media platforms. At the time of writing, H&M has 35.6 million Instagram followers, with Topshop following up at 10.3 million, Primark at 8.4 million and Boohoo at 6.6 million. Yes, your unfollow would only be a small dent, but imagine if everyone who thinks workers should be paid a living wage and want to reduce their impact on the environment unfollowed fast fashion accounts? That would probably be a hell of a lot of people. 

There are also other benefits of unfollowing fast fashion on social media. By unfollowing, you’re no longer being bombarded with advertising of clothes you probably don’t need, likely don’t even like, and that you’ll probably forget about as you scroll further down your feed. Unfollowing with help you unpick the consumerist mindset we have all been conditioned in and help you fight the urge to buy new clothes just for the sake of it. 

4. Research where you can!

Do what you can to learn about the fashion industry, and the many different issues which crop up within it. With increased knowledge, you are better equipped to campaign and tackle any issue. This is one that will take up lots of time, but that’s okay! Do whatever you can to learn something new about the industry, even if it’s reading one article a week. If you don’t have much time, I’d recommend using podcast as tool for research. You can listen to them while commuting, doing house work, cooking, and any other activity you do about your day. Some of my favourites are The Yikes Podcast by Mikaela Loach and Jo Baker and Remember Who Made Them.

If you’re wondering where to start, I have a resource document called Fast Fashion 101: Stay Informed and Take Action, which has resources on everything fast fashion, including articles on Rana Plaza, greenwashing, #PayUp, working conditions, colonialism and more! 

5. Keep wearing the clothes you already own

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the most sustainable way of consuming clothes is to continue to wear, love, and take care of the clothes you already own. Take pride in rewearing outfits, mix things up with different combos and make sure you know how best to look after all of your clothes (i.e. make sure you’re not tumble drying items which really shouldn’t be tumble dried, and be extra careful with any fabrics which may be quite delicate).

Do you know any other ways to support ethical and sustainable fashion without spending any money?

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5 Sustainable Jewellery Businesses You Need to Know About

Friday 20 November 2020

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 Snazzy jewellery is what I live for! Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but the sentiment still applies. Jewellery is such a fun way of expressing yourself and jazzing up an outfit. To find the most interesting jewellery, I always head either secondhand or to small businesses. Here are some small jewellery businesses owned and run by women I love, and I hope you will too!

1. Pomsha

Pomsha sells a wide variety of earrings, using lots of different materials and styles. They do clip-ons and requests for colours, so you can really customize your order. They have several charity earrings, in support of causes such as Color of Change, supporting Covid protections in Syria, Extinciton Rebellion, Black Vision Collective and Free Palestine. They use clay in several different ways – as tiles to paint images on, to make faces and other shapes, all are super creative and not something I’ve seen used much before. Other products include hook earrings with charms, beads and pom-poms. 

Pomsha Instagram

2. Felt Fancy


Felt Fancy sells a mixture of necklaces, bracelets and earrings, all made out of recycled and responsibility sourced materials. The main feature of Felt Fancy, as you would expect from the name, is their use of felt in most of their designs. Their most pom-pom earrings! These come in several different sizes, a wide range of colours, and some have added beads on the hoops. Each item is made to order, which reduces the amount of wasted materials. 50% of all bracelet profits go to Black Lives Matter UK.

Felt Fancy Instagram


On their Instagram page, WOWE describe themselves as ‘wearable art’ and I certainly think that description is very apt. The products they make genuinely astound me frequently. They have so many different designs, including every type of fruit you could think of (my personal faves are the pears), flowers, waves, and more! They use minimal and plastic-free packaging. If you like bright colours and snazzy patterns, WOWE is for you!

WOWE Instagram

4. Eclectic Eccentricity

I first found out about Eclectic Eccentricity after Hannah Witton shared a few items she’d been gifted a few years ago. They sell bracelets, earrings, and necklaces, as well as stationary and some homeware (mostly small plant pots). My favourites of theirs are their pressed flower necklaces. I think they’re absolutely beautiful. Eclectic Eccentricitiy has been running for over 10 years and continues to support several charities, particularly Women for Women International. They also avoid all single-use plastic and are zero waste!

Eclectic Eccentricity Instagram

5. Foaki

Run by Yossy, all the products sold by Foaki are inspired by her Nigerian heritage. They sell rings, necklaces, earrings, hairclips, and even some net bags! All of their products are absolutely gorgeous, but I have to say that my favourite product of theirs is their Nike earrings. I am obsessed, and kept an eye out for a long time for them to come back in stock so I could get my own pair. I also think many of these would make beautiful and super affordable gifts for friends and family. 

Foaki Website

What are your favourite small jewellery businesses? 

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My Slow Fashion Journey: From Addict to Activist

Monday 9 November 2020

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The transition to slow fashion is a journey that the entire fashion industry and us as citizens needs to take is a gradual one, yet so vital. While it’s important that we as citizens do our best to slow down our own consumption of clothes and to source them from ethical and sustainable avenues, that’s not always possible and is so dependent on a person’s privilege. As much as we should try our best individually to make our choices more ethical and sustainable, we have to hold brands to account for their exploitative practices. Complete system change is required to bring justice to workers and the planet, and shaming ourselves and others is not the way to change, naming and shaming the brands is!

I always find it useful and super interesting to find out about how people discovered slow fashion and how they made differences in their lifestyles and approach to brands. It’s important to remember that even the people who are now the most outspoken advocates of ethical and sustainable fashion at one point bought fast fashion, and probably bought a lot of it. There’s a starting point for everyone, and we shouldn’t feel guilty about wherever we are along our slow fashion journey. These things take time, persistence, frustration and resilience. Fast fashion marketing is manipulative and seemingly ethical and inclusive brands can let us down. It’s complicated.  


So, how did my slow fashion journey begin?

My A Level years were a huge time of learning for me, particularly outside of the curriculum. I learned a lot about feminism, mostly through the books I was able to borrow from my local library and my college library, and I increasingly looked into the need for intersectionality within this movement. I also learned a lot about sustainability, veganism (through my vegan friends I met at college), and eventually the effects of fast fashion. I started looking into the issue after hearing about some ethical issues within the fast fashion industry from a friend (love you Liz). I starting looking into NGOs like Fashion Revolution, and through them finding out about events like Rana Plaza and how systemic worker and environmental exploitation is within the industry. 


I went into college starting my A Levels and buying fast fashion enthusiastically – H&M was my favourite place to get my clothes! – and I left with completed exams and a determination to buy as little as possible, and when I did for those garments to be either secondhand or made sustainably and ethically (or at least to buy the most sustainable and ethical option available to me).


It was that summer between A levels and starting uni that I became more confident in my style. I got my dungarees, a couple of wildly patterned t-shirts and a few other items (all secondhand), and felt a lot happier in the clothes that I was wearing. I’d always loved clothes and putting outfits together, but there was a different kind of satisfaction knowing that less harm was created through the clothes I was now wearing (and indeed, do still wear).


Since then, I’ve done a lot more research into workers’ rights and the environment, have actively sought out stories from garment workers themselves, and was even able to write about the Rana Plaza disaster for a university essay. I am also currently doing a project on migrant workers in Boohoo's Leicester factories as part of one of my final year modules. Slow fashion is now at the centre of my activism. It encompasses so many different areas and issues – from colonialism, feminism, environmental conservation, labour rights, and more. With the pandemic, the increasing number of fast fashion scandals (notably #PayUp), as well as having more spare time as a result of finishing my second year of uni and being unable to continue my usual customer service job, I used the opportunity to ramp up my activism and research in the area. Before and at the beginning of the pandemic, I had kind of lost my way with my blog. I hadn’t written a post that wasn’t a Monthly Wrap Up for a several months, and to be frank, was burned out from my degree and other projects. Writing about these issues, on my blog and elsewhere, helped me get my writing mojo back as well as help give me a new sense of purpose and improve my mental health when it had been in a bit of a dire state. 


Although I do consider myself to be a subscriber of slow fashion, and for most of my clothes consumption to be generally sustainable and ethical, I am still not perfect, and that is important to highlight. M&S is always my backup if I can’t find something secondhand, or need something new and either can’t find it ethically or the ethical option is unaffordable for me. It’s not a perfect brand, but it’s certainly the best on the high street for sustainability and workers’ rights (Good On You is a great place to check these areas), and shopping better wear possible even if not perfect is always better than not thinking about wear your garment comes from at all. Middle grounds are what movements towards ethical and sustainable consumption need more of, so that it doesn’t just become the domain the most elite. 


I have probably gone as far as the average individual is able – more if you take into account my level of privilege – and wider changes need to be made societally and within the fashion industry to bring justice to workers and those buying the clothes they make. If you want to find out more about the fast fashion industry and how to separate yourself from it, I recommend looking through my Fast Fashion 101 Resource Document as well as looking into organisations like Remake and Remember Who Made Them. Please sign Remake's latest #PayUp petition to demand that brands pay their workers during the pandemic.

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Sustainable OOTD // Beatnik Inspired

Wednesday 4 November 2020

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As much as I do love a pop of colour, I also love outfits which are all black. This jumper is one of my favourites and is the one which sparked my love of turtlenecks. I've been told a few times that this outfit looks like something a Beatnik would have worn and you know what? I'm kinda here for that. Gimme some monochromes any day! 

Turtleneck – secondhand fast fashion bought from a charity shop around 3 years ago

Jeans – M&S (one of the better high street brands in terms of ethical and sustainable production), owned for I think about 4 or 5 years

Boots - secondhand fast fashion bought on Depop at the beginning of the year, repaired once

Headband – gift from a friend 2 Christmasses ago

Necklace – had when I was a kid, genuinely no idea how long I've had it but it's a long time!

Earrings - had so long I can’t remember when or where I bought them, wear all the time.

Thank you to my friend Jude for braving the cold rain to take these pictures!

If you liked this post you might like: OOTD // When Harry Met Sally Inspired
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