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How to Be An Ethical Shopper in College

Stores such as H&M and Forever 21 are the go-to for affordable college clothes. Unfortunately, these fast fashion brands are bad for the environment and pay their workers unlivable wages. Even though we know this, and we see the statistics and impact it has on people and the environment, we still choose to buy from fast fashion. This is not because people do not want a cleaner world or better conditions for workers but rather it is due to the convivence of fast fashion.  College students can barely afford to buy food off campus, let alone buy clothes from niche ethical clothing stores. This makes it seem impossible to ethically shop on a college budget but there are still many ways to shop in a good and clean way.


1.     Start with what you have!


When it comes to Ethical Fashion it is easy to want to redesign your whole closet with cute new ethical brands. But the best way to be responsible with your clothes is too own less.  Start by trying on all the clothes in your closet. This allows you to rediscover a cute shirt or find new combinations of clothes. For the clothes that you are truly not interested in anymore, you can donate it to goodwill or swap clothes with your friends. This allows you to find new and interesting clothes with clothes that have already been produced.


2.     Buy pieces that will last for a long time.


It is key to buy simple pieces that will last for a long time, and can be used for everyday wear. These pieces do not have to be crazy expensive and can be just a plain black t-shirt or pair of blue jeans. With these basic pieces, you can pair them in many different ways and create new outfits.



3.     Shop ethical and local.


Lucky for you, Phoenix has many secondhand stores filled with beautiful pieces. Buffalo Exchange is a staple for ethical fashion in college. If you’re looking for anything from a trendy going out outfit to a Halloween costume, Buffalo has it! Most items range from $10- $25 and are curated to fit what is trending. The tried and true Goodwill always has great things to offer for those who are willing to dig for it. They are found all over the valley and offer anything you could be looking for second hand. You can decorate your dorm room and add clothes to your closet all in one trip! If you are looking for more specialized Ethical clothing, Local Nomad in Uptown Plaza is the place to go. All their clothing is ethical but on the pricey side, but this place makes the list because of their vintage finds rack. This clothing is always beautiful and interesting and ranges from $20-$40. They also have cards and gifts made by local artists if you are looking for a special gift.


4.     Take advantage of online stores.


Affordable and ethical fashion brands are becoming more readily available online. Thredup offers secondhand clothes from popular brands for a discounted brand. Poshmark is another app that people sell their cute clothes on for a discounted price. Both of these options allow you to stay with the current fashions all from the comfort of your own bed in an ethical way. A great affordable brand for basics is PACT. PACT sells clothes made from 100% cotton and they are good for the environment as well as their workers. If you are looking for some new underwear or basic tees for an affordable price this is perfect for you.


Ethical fashion is hard to subscribe to in this world of everchanging fashion. It is easy to avoid good shopping practices because being an ethical shopper seems impossible. In order to make a difference, you do not need to be perfect. Making small steps in the right direction makes a big difference. 



Tatum is currently a Sophomore at GCU studying Graphic Design and Advertising. As a native to Arizona she loves being a part of the Phoenix community. She is passionate about writing, design, friendship, and a really good cup of coffee.
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