How to Create an Ethical Wardrobe

How To Create an Ethical WardrobeI think we can all agree that there is a lot of bad stuff going on in the world, so the last thing you’ll likely want to hear from me is that you have something else to worry about.  Sorry, but I’m going to tell you anyway: the clothes you’re wearing right now probably had a negative impact on people, animals and the environment when they were being made.

The good news is that you can make easy changes to the way you shop that will encourage brands to source their materials and manufacture them in an ethical way.  I’ve put together 5 shopping tips and lots of resources to help you make your wardrobe more ethical.

I’ve also shared a video of my minimalist wardrobe + an update on my own journey at the bottom of the post.  You’ll see that I’m still just scratching the surface, but I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far.

First things first, here are those tips I was telling you about:

1) Don’t Buy It.

Most of us already have all of the clothes we need, so instead of buying more, we should start by working with what we already have.  The benefits of buying less make it worth the sacrifice:

– Less laundry to do
– More money in the bank
– Smaller environmental footprint

If you’re interested in having a functional minimalist wardrobe, you should check out the Uniform Project, The Minimalists and Project 333 for some inspiration.

2) Get It Used.

Finding quality used clothing is a lot easier and more socially acceptable than it used to be.  Here are some fun and easy ways to find used clothes you’ll love:

– Plan a clothing swap with your friends, family or co-workers
– Scan the racks at thrift shops like Value Village and Salvation Army
– Search for used or vintage finds on Etsy
– Shop for vintage and repurposed clothes on sites like Preloved and Ursa Major+

3) Buy It Fair.

Fair Trade means that garment workers are paid a fair wage for their work.  Here are some brands you can feel good about buying from:

Patagonia has a certified Fair Trade line
MEC has a certified Fair Trade line
– Armedangels uses Fair Trade cotton
– prAna has a certified Fair Trade line
– Indigenous has 100% certified Fair Trade clothes
– American Apparel are 100% made in the USA
Yoga Jeans are 100% made in Canada

4) Buy It Vegan.

Vegan clothing means it doesn’t have wool, feathers, silk or leather in it.  Here are some fun brands & stores that the animal lover in you will appreciate:

Vegan Cuts sells vegan wallets, bags, accessories & more.  I also work for them <3
Toms has a nice selection of vegan shoes and accessories
Alternative Outfitters is a 100% vegan boutique
Moo Shoes has 100% vegan shoes, boots, accessories and more
Herbivore Clothing sells 100% vegan clothing
Cruelty-Free Culture has 100% vegan apparel with compassionate messages

If you’re interested in learning more about how to veganize your wardrobe, you should check out the free Vegan Cuts Fashion Guide for tons of information and inspiration.

5) Buy It Organic.

If you want to avoid the nasty chemicals and pesticides that are used to grow almost all cotton worldwide, you should try the organic options from these brands:

– MEC cotton clothing is made with 100% organic cotton
– Patagonia cotton clothing is made with 100% organic cotton
– prAna has an organic cotton line
– Indigenous cotton clothing is made with 100% organic cotton
– H&M has an organic cotton line
– Armedangels cotton clothing is made with 100% organic cotton

Here’s a peek at how things are going on my end:

My Ethical Clothing Journey

When we sold our house in 2012, I downsized my wardrobe so that we’d be able to travel light.  I watched as many YouTube videos as I could find to see what other people were doing to minimize their wardrobes without compromising comfort, practicality and functionality; then I did the same.

Since then, I’ve been careful about only buying clothes when I really need them.  If I do have to buy something, I try to get it used first.  If I can’t do that, then I try to buy something that is vegan, organic and fair trade.  As a last resort, I’ll sometimes buy something that isn’t organic or fair trade, but I’ll make sure it’s good quality so that at the very least, I’ll be able to use it for a long time.

Here’s a breakdown of my 25 piece wardrobe* by category**:

– 64%  Bought New
– 28% Bought Used
– 8% Received as a Gift
– 100% Vegan
– 24% Owned for more than 2 years
– 20% Fair Trade
– 8% Organic

*not including undies, bras, socks.
**the percentages won’t add up to 100% because most pieces fit into more than one category.

And here’s a peek at my minimalist wardrobe:

I hope you find these tips useful!  If you have any questions, ideas or suggestions – let me know in the comments or send me an email!

Happy exploring :)

Danielle

15 thoughts on “How to Create an Ethical Wardrobe

  1. Jocelyne Langis

    Super cet article. Cependant je n’arrive pas à voir le vidéo sur tube…il faut désactiver le mode sécurité…je sais pas si je veux…et en plus je sais pas comment faire..c’est un peu plate…

  2. Larry

    Danielle, here’s what I do. I only have light colored clothes. Light grey tee shirts, sweat shirts, sweat jackets, tan pants and all white socks. When I do laundry I can put them all in one load. A little money saving tip. Great site by the way…

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hey Larry,

      Sorry that it took me so long to get back to you! I love your idea of having light colored clothes so that you can wash everything in one load. Our stuff is so old that we can wash all the light and dark clothes together haha!

      Happy Exploring!

      Danielle

  3. Lori

    Hi Danielle,

    What brand is the sweatshirt you’re wearing in the video in this post? Love it! Your blog has been so helpful in my quest to (slowly) downsize my life! Thank you so much!

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Lori,

      Thanks for checking out this blog post! The sweater I’m wearing is from Element. It’s not organic and I didn’t buy it used but I’ve worn it almost every day for a couple of years now so I still think it was a good purchase.

      Take care and happy exploring :)

      Danielle

  4. Jessica

    Hi Danielle,
    I’ve been watching your videos(subsriber) and I find both you and Matt so inspirational. I wish to do the same as you two one day, but I’m scared hahaha its holding me back and my boyfriend doesn’t share the same mindset as me. My question is how is it living in a campervan as a woman?

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Jessica,

      Thank you for checking out our videos and the blog, too. We really appreciate your positive feedback!

      What it’s like living in a campervan as a woman? If I was on my own, I would probably be a little more cautious about where I sleep and would potentially be a little scared at night sometimes, but with Mat around I don’t worry about anything except bears in the Rockies and even that didn’t scare me too much.

      I use a diva cup and pee in a bottle and those are the only differences between living in a van as a man and as a woman (that I can think of off the top of my head). Getting used to not showering as much was easy for me but not as easy for other people. A lot of it depends on what type of person you are. Do you have any specific fears about living in a van?

      I feel like I should mention that we don’t live in the van full time like we’d hoped – we actually house sit quite a bit and plan to live in it during the summer months (& part of the winter if we can escape Canada for a little while!).

      Living in a van isn’t for everyone but the only way to know for sure is to try it. If you’re not sure, maybe you guys could try a weekend car camping trip to see what it’s like before you invest time & money in a van?

      Thanks again and have fun exploring alternative lifestyles with your boyfriend :)

      Danielle

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Jessica – good question! It’s kind of funny but my old roommates used to tease me about the fact that I only had one pair of shoes when I moved to the city. I’ve never been a big shoe person but I did manage to accumulate my fair share over the years.

      To downsize them, I started by donating shoes that were not comfortable and/or that I never wore and I kept one pair of each “type” of shoe so that I’d always be prepared (1 pair boots, 1 pair runners, 1 pair flats, 1 pair heels, 1 pair flip flops, 1 pair of slippers, etc.).

      Then I wore those ones until they were basically full of holes or completely worn out and then made the decision about whether I should replace them or not.

      Now, I’m down to 1 pair of winter boots, 1 pair of rubber boots, 1 pair of walking shoes, 1 pair of flip flops and 1 pair of slippers. There are definitely times when I could use another pair of shoes – for example at a wedding I might want a nice pair of shoes, but I choose to wear my flip flops because I don’t want to spend money on shoes that I’ll only wear once, and because I don’t want to buy something I don’t really need every day.

      That said, downsizing is a very personal process and I think it’s really important to be true to yourself and only downsize what you genuinely don’t want. It’s not about having nothing, but about getting rid of things that are taking up space in your life. If you love your shoes then keep them and consider downsizing something else instead!

      Last thing – becoming a minimalist is a long-term process and not something that can be achieved overnight. Go at your own pace :)

      Happy exploring :)

      Danielle

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hey Denise – sorry for the late reply! I bought that green hoodie a few years ago at a skate shop. It’s made by Element. :)

      Take care,

      Danielle

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Lorey,

      It’s a backpack from MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop). It’s a day pack that zips on to a larger backpack that I used on my first adventure in Europe. It’s a little small as a standalone although I’m determined that it’ll be my only bag if I travel somewhere hot where I don’t need a lot of clothes!

      Take care,

      Danielle

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