When I'm banging on about dressing ethically and economically, a lot of people bring up the same (quite valid) point; buying organically, fairly traded clothes is expensive, and charity shops don't always have what you want if you're searching for something specific. My initial answer is eBay - I've been using it since it first launched, and so far have never not managed to find what I'm looking for (or something pretty close), but then there's always the issue of inaccurate listings and problems with sizes - it can be pretty risky to part with your cash when you're not sure whether it's going to fit, and there are no refund options.
Until recently, apart from the odd shop with admirable ethical principles, the high street was a place to avoid if you were at all concerned with the environment or social responsibility; report after report of human rights abuses in factories surfaced over a matter of months, and suddenly something that had been shuffled under the carpet for years was firmly in the spotlight. Thankfully, although they're still far from perfect, many high street brands seem to be wising up to the fact that they need to improve their CSR policies, and now have an area on their websites dedicated to everything related to the environment, manufacturing process and employees.
There are also some great resources online which offer an insight into different brands and shops; Ethical Consumer is marvelous, and well worth signing up for, while comparison site The Good Shopping Guide have published a helpful guide to the best and worst places to shop. So today, in honour of these brands getting themselves together, I've put together an extra special Sunday Style extravaganza; featuring three sets of clothes which all get the ethical green light, won't break the bank, and most importantly, can be sent back for a refund if they don't fit. Hurrah!
The first set is from ASOS Green Room; if you've never ventured into this part of the website, you're missing out - made up of both ethical brands, such as ASOS Africa and Tatty Devine, and reclaimed vintage clothes, it features all the wonderful diversity that ASOS is known for, but with a little extra ethical friendliness. Can't be bad! (That velvet vintage reclaimed dress in the bottom right hand corner is just £18, reduced from £45 I snapped one up while they had my size!)
The second set features pieces from the H&M Conscious collection; not quite as eclectic as the others, but good for eco-friendly basics. The jersey tops are made from organic cotton, and they also have several lovely lyocell pieces; a soft fabric made from wood pulp. Clever!
The last set is from the only high street shop to make it into the green light section of the Good Shopping Guide ethical rankings - and you're probably going to be surprised that it's made up of pieces from.... New Look. I almost fell off my chair when I saw that they'd scored an impressive 78 out of 100 in the ethical company index - way higher than Marks and Spencer, and even Monsoon and Accessorize (who have an amazing set of CSR policies on their website, and even a charity foundation). Good stuff!