How to Live The Lavish Life Ethically & Sustainably

There is nothing quite like the feeling when your financial aid refund hits the bank account, so what should you do with all this money (other than saving most of it, of course?) Retail therapy, naturally! Every now and then, you might want to treat yourself with something nice as a reward for your hard work—or maybe you simply want to live life lavishly, waking up every morning feeling like a million dollars.

Did you know you can absolutely indulge in luxury while feeling good and guilt-free knowing that you're doing it ethically and sustainably, too? Here are various high-end brands and products that will leave you feeling like you're living the good life while doing actual good for the world.

1. The Ethical Silk Company 

Best For: Luxurious silk products for loungewear and sleep

Product Range: Pillowcases, tops, slips, eye masks, camisole sets, robes, pajamas, baby crib sheets, scarves

Price Range: $35-$295

Silk is well-known in the beauty community for preventing moisture from leaving the skin and minimizing hair breakage with its smooth and soft surface, hence why products such as silk pillowcases and sleepwear are so popular. A breathable fabric with hypoallergenic, temperature-regulating, and moisture-balancing qualities, silk is also great for those with sensitive skin. 

Sustainably and ethically made, the Ethical Silk Company produces a variety of luxury silk products made in a Fairtrade tailoring unit in Jaipur, India. Their high quality silk is produced using an ethical process in which mulberry silk is extracted after the silk moth leaves the cocoon. One might ask, “How am I directly contributing to social responsibility by buying from them?” Whatever and whenever you buy a product from their store, 10% of the total profits are donated to charity—5% of it goes to the Jeevan Jyothi AIDS Hospice in Theni, India while the other 5% goes to Focus Ireland, a charity that works to prevent homelessness. You can find out more about the company and their dedication to ethics here.

I personally recommend trying their 100% mulberry silk pillowcase ($60.00); I ended up buying two because they were so well-made and live up to their promise for great quality without compromising ethics.

SHOP THE ETHICAL SILK COMPANY

2. Reformation

​Best For: Vintage-inspired, casual apparel

Product Range: Women's dresses, tops, jumpsuits, bottoms, swimwear, bridal, intimate wear, accessories

Price Range: $28-$528

According to EcoWatch, the fast fashion world is the second most polluting industry next to the oil industry. If you aren’t sure of what fast fashion is, it is a term to describe the mass creation of cheap—and, more often than not, unethical and unsustainable—clothing that attempts to keep up with the current fashion trends. Infamous fast fashion shops include but are not limited to Forever 21, Urban Outfitters (that broke my heart when I found out), Romwe and Fashion Nova. Purchasing cute and trendy clothing without breaking the bank sounds like a very tempting offer for many of us college ladies who are trying to save money-- but at what cost does that come with? Ever-growing landfills? Unfair wages for the poor, disadvantaged workers forced into labor for long hours in sweatshops and unfair working conditions?

Fortunately, there are better alternatives out there! Based in sunny Los Angeles, Reformation is an American-based apparel brand that focuses on ethical fashion for women. They produce on-trend pieces that will still be cute and stylish even after the season is over. Reformation creates their clothing only from sustainable and upcycled materials in a fair wage environment. Their dedication to sustainable production is extensively explained here and each item in their store comes with a description of its environmental footprint. We love an eco-conscious and ethical clothing brand!

SHOP REFORMATION

3. Tatcha

Best For: Skincare and beauty products

Product Range: Moisturizers, serums, cleansers, masks, essence, mist, exfoliators

​Price Range: $12-$524

Skincare that both high-end spenders and the occasional budget-friendly user can love alike, I introduce you to Tatcha. 

Tatcha provides a wide variety of skin and beauty products that are largely inspired by the beauty routines and lifestyles of Japanese geisha. Formulated without parabens, synthetic fragrances, mineral oil, and other potentially harmful ingredients, Tatcha’s line of products live up to their promise of keeping their products clean and minimal, which is also great news for those with sensitive skin. There are very open about what natural ingredients you would find in their skincare. You can read about their promise to adhere to purity and cleanliness here.

Tatcha is also incredible about giving back to those in need; in partnership with Room to Read, through the Beautiful Faces, Beautiful Futures program, you are supporting girls education in Asia and Africa by putting them in school for a day for every Tatcha purchase you make. You can read more about Tatcha’s giving back program here. Just imagine how you’re directly making an incredible impact on a girl’s life in your journey to beautiful skin; not only will you be glowing with Tatcha’s skincare line, your inner beauty will shine through with your charity, too.

I personally recommend trying some of their bestsellers, which include the Water Cream ($68.00), the Deep Cleanse (for my ladies who want to unclog congested skin with a gentle cleanser; $38.00), and the Violet-C Brightening Serum (this one goes out to the girls who have hyperpigmentation from post-acne breakouts—I feel your pain; $88.00).

SHOP TATCHA

4. AWE

Not only will AWE's luxe collection of timeless, fine jewelry look stunning on you but they also do so much good for the world, too. They ensure their precious materials and diamonds are ethically sourced to prevent the distribution of conflict diamonds while treating the environment with care. The company's values include paying equal and fair wages for their employees, both women and men alike, providing proper health care and safe working environments for all those involved in the AWE product cycle, and pertaining to environmental consciousness during all manufacturing and disposing of waste.

Check out my personal favorite piece from AWE, the Mulan Coin Necklace ($200.00), which comes from their beautiful goddess coin collection that you can find here.

SHOP AWE

Even on days where we want to treat ourselves like the queens we are, we must remain conscious of our shopping habits and realize how the products we buy might affect the people making our goods as well as the impact on the environment. These brands may be pricey for the average college girl and sometimes we may think that cheaper is better for our bank accounts, but we may end up sacrificing quality and ethics in the process—most likely in an unintentional way. That is why it is often better to indulge in the pricier alternative from a trusted, ethical brand every once in a while because at least you can ensure your lifestyle isn’t harming anything and will make a positive impact in the world. With that in mind, happy shopping!