Is it possible to be an ethical consumer AND save money?
I have been learning about ethical consumerism, supply chains and production, and some of my subsequent purchases seem to be getting more expensive. But the more I learn, and the more used to purchasing ethically I become, the worse I feel contemplating purchases that are -to my mind- unethical.
So, can we purchase ethically and save money? Well, some products are easier to save on than others. Clothing for example, I have always loved vintage and if you shop around you can get some amazingly well made pieces, in beautiful fabrics, at a fraction of the price of new, I recently bought a stunning tweed jacket for £30! On top of that your probably supporting a small business, but a word of warning be careful sourcing from vintage shops in London- many are seriously overpriced!
Whilst we are on the subject of second hand, why not try sourcing furniture from flea markets, second hand shops or freecycle? Individual pieces that you can pick up for practically nothing can give your home a lovely, eclectic feel.
So onto food, I love organic, great for you, great for the planet and definitely great for bees but honestly it is more expensive. I sadly cannot afford to shop exclusively organically so I try to box clever. I often choose to buy the cheaper items of my shop organically, so instead of buying organic blueberries I choose organic leeks. I also always try to buy organic dairy and meat as these farms exercise higher welfare standards and try to have a couple of vegetarian days per week. I can then afford to buy higher welfare meat and not bankrupt myself. Having a meat-free day or two per week also helps to cut your carbon foot print considerably, ruminating animals such as cattle produce huge quantities of methane (a damaging greenhouse gas) so decreasing your demand for meat helps the environment.
Another of my stalwart methods of saving money is making do and mending. Learning to sew has been invaluable and I always try to go for quality rather than quantity when buying products, so they last longer. If I can’t mend I will repurpose.
When birthdays roll around, why not make presents? Or if that is not your cup of tea, check out Etsy, you can pick up some beautiful presents which have been repurposed from found objects. I recently bought a necklace made from an illustration from a children’s book called ‘the boy and the badger’, I love it and not only was it recycled but I was helping local business and it was from the UK so low carbon footprint too! Buying local also supports small businesses and can save you a packet on p&p.
So, coming back to my original question, yes you can save money and be an ethical consumer, but even for the slightly more expensive items I would rather feel good about a purchase than save a few pounds and feel like I have sold my ethics short.
Thanks for reading,