How To Shop Ethically On A Budget

Believe it or not, when it comes to clothing, you can put the words ethical and affordable in the same sentence. Promise.

Some may say that ethical fashion isn't for them because they don't want to wear shirts made out of recycled cans OR because it's just too expensive. Moving past the recycled can shirt myth, if buying ethical fashion right off the site isn't your jam, consider buying pre-worn clothing.

Before you immediately dismiss this option, hear me out. About 5 - 10 years ago the only way to make this a reality was to shop at your local Goodwill or consignment store. And unless you were an early hipster into vintage items and graphic tees it probably wasn’t for you.

With that said, 5-10 years is a long time ago in the technology age we currently live in. Today, you can shop second-hand from a full range of brands who specialize in this sort of thing. It keeps your dollars from supporting businesses who refuse to pay their labor fair wages and gives you access to a variety of items that may help showcase your unique style. It’s never been easier to look stylish and shop in an ethical way.

Here are our favorite sites and stores that help you shop easily, ethically...and affordably! 

Cladwell's Shopping Guide: A Brand List To Help You Shop Ethically

Let's say you want to change the way you shop. You want to begin purchasing fewer items of higher quality. Items you can wear again and again. Instead of contributing to the unsustainable cycle of fast fashion, you want to contribute to economies and lives in good and ethical ways.

The problem becomes, where do you find these brands? You're right. You're not seeing them as you stroll through your local mall. And googling is for the birds. (Yes, I've always wanted to use that phrase in a sentence. But I digress...)

So, we've done some work for you. We’ve scoured the interwebs for ethical brands that are transparent about how their clothes are made. And we've made a list for you! A list we will be continually adding to as we find more.

We can’t guarantee this list is perfect. So we encourage you to explore further and do your own research before buying. But, we hope it's a good head start to a whole new way of shopping and more importantlyliving.

And now for that extensive and beautiful list you've been looking for:

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Women's Only

Men's Only


Shoes & Accessories

Athletic & Outdoor

Why September Has Become Known As Sustainable Fashion Month

September has always been an important month for fashion. It's the month of September Issues and New York Fashion Week. It's the month of back to school shopping (and, let's not forget, pencils!). It heralds the end of summer and the beginning of a new wardrobe.

Accordingly, September has been a huge month for shopping. And, following fashion week and back to school trends, we have shopped. A lot. Studies tell us that 80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased worldwide each year, which is 400% more than a decade ago. You read that correctly, 400%! 

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. And, the 1,135 people who died in the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh are a constant reminder of the inhumane conditions garment workers suffer throughout the globe in order to produce the magnitude of clothing we consume.

It wasn't until recently that many of us have started to realize the true cost of the fashion industry. Granted, unless you're in the industry, clothing shopping may be an unconscious activity much like that of grocery shopping. It's something you need to do, plan to do within your budget, and do fairly often. We rarely think about the global impact of shopping. 

Moved by these horrifying facts, people everywhere are using September to make the unconscious conscious and provide an education in sustainable living. From a news outlet and a clothing brand, here are two of our favorite #sustainableseptember movements:


This year, The Huffington Post launched a brand new campaign called Reclaim: Reducing the World of Waste : "an ongoing project spotlighting the world’s waste crisis and how we can begin to solve it." As a part of this project, HuffPost Style is focusing its articles around style sustainability:

HuffPost Style will focus the month of September on simple ways to educate yourself on becoming a better consumer.

This campaign challenges consumers to ask questions about the clothing they buy to stop and think before they indulge in the fast fashion of another H&M sale. And we think this challenge is good news.


The folks at BrainTree Clothing have built their brand around, what they call, "thoughtful clothing." From their own design and manufacturing of the clothing to teaching customers how to give their threads long life, BrainTree Clothing is committed to breaking the cycle of fast fashion.

And in September, as a brand, they are giving their customers an education in organic clothing and living with articles such as, 5 Ways to Go Organic This September.  Imagine that, a brand that not only doesn't contribute to fashion industry waste, but is committed to reversing its effects. We think this movement is good news.


"Sustainable September" isn't about creating shopper's guilt about all the clothing we've already consumed. Guilt won't help. Instead, it's about recognizing that people everywhere are making REAL efforts towards raising awareness by reducing waste, shopping consciously, and encouraging others to continue in these efforts.

So whether you're starting your own Reclaim movement or ethical clothing line or simply refusing to buy a $5 tee because "it's cheap", you can so easily join in this effort. The good news is, if you've made it this far in the article, you're already one step ahead. Hooray for #sustainableseptember!

Baby Steps To Becoming A Minimalist

Ironically, the idea of minimalist living can be overwhelming.

Faced with full closets and rooms of possessions, we can think that simple and minimal spaces are too far away to grasp. The best advice I know is to start small. As the saying goes,

"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

Stop trying to build Rome in a day. Instead, start planting seeds that will help you slowly reap a simpler life.

A few “seeds” to begin with…

1.     Choose a place to start.

“My entire life!!!” is not a reasonable goal. Whether it’s a drawer, a closet, or a room, pick one area of life and begin there and don’t move on until you’re done (even if it takes weeks!).

2.     Give yourself one hour.

Don’t put off working on your one drawer or closet because you don’t have a full day or a weekend. Empty days don’t come around that often but empty hours do. Have a list of spaces you'd like to organize. Then as an hour opens up, you can move down your list and slowly but surely tackle each one hour by hour.  

3.     Try a social media fast.

Try disconnecting for a while from Facebook, Instagram, or whatever your particular social media poison is. Stop reading articles (like this one…) about minimalism and start de-cluttering your life! Come back when Facebook becomes a tool again and not an addiction.

4.     Purposefully replace that social media time with another activity.

Oh, the things we could do if we got off of Facebook! This free time could be your "one hour". Or, just time to do something else, something creative. Because at the end of the day, minimalism isn't just about simple living; it's about good living. I’m no artist, but maybe you are. Go do art. Even bad art will suffice. Or, go for a walk, or pick up a book, or read a little poetry, or subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. Need I go on? Just pick one activity that you’ll go to when your finger slides over the Facebook icon on your iPhone.

5.     Take some time and think about what you love, what you really love.

Maybe your “one hour” per week would be best spent thinking about what you care about, what your goals are—for your life, for your home, for your wardrobe.  And then only decorate, dress, purchase, and live that way. Trust me, this will immediately help you cut down on all those extra purchases and keep your spaces filled with things you love rather than the clutter you couldn’t help but buy.


All this to say, go plant a few seeds. And remember, remember, remember! Seeds take time to plant, care for, and, finally, bear fruit. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the fruits of your labor anytime soon. Just begin. One hour, one drawer, at a time. And soon enough, your small seeds will become a mighty oak.

Pre-Order The Curated Closet + Read A Sample For FREE!

It's no surprise that we're fans of our friend, style and minimalism blogger, Anuschka Rees of We took a look "Inside Her Closet" a while back and now we're pretty pumped she's released a book called The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe. 

It’s an inspirational roadmap for cultivating a strong sense of personal style and building the ideal wardrobe for your lifestyle. Great minds think alike, right? The Curated Closet will help you along your journey of identifying your personal style and building out your dream wardrobe.

We're going to start recommending books that we love and push us to think outside of our comfort zone. As a part of that, we thought it was only appropriate to give you a sample from this good read.

If you want to cut straight to the chase, we get it. You can pre-order right here + receive a free 8-week closet revamp plan. 


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