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  • Writer's pictureFIONA MACK '22

Ethical Shopping for the Holidays

With Christmas just around the corner, many people are shopping for loved ones, attempting to find the best gifts possible. While one may be purchasing an item that would be perfect for a parent or friend, the ethics of a brand are often overlooked.

It is often easier to look up a specific gift online and buy the first option that pops up, but shopping ethically has many benefits and can change the world if accomplished. Ethical shopping means buying products that do not exploit people, animals, or the environment.

For example, shopping ethically can help reduce climate change and support the environment. Many companies release a copious amount of pollution and toxins from their factories, contributing to the current issue of climate change. Another benefit of shopping ethically is to benefit society. Working rights and human rights are often violated within many corporations, so simply doing research on a company before purchasing can help one become a more ethical shopper.

Shopping second-hand is a great way to shop ethically. Instead of finding a brand new sweater off of a big brand corporation, try shopping at a local thrift store. If you prefer to shop online, consider ThreadUp, an online thrift store where you can purchase second-hand without having to leave the comfort of your home. Another way to shop conscientiously is buying local products. Trusted local stores are a great way to find fun, interesting gifts that anyone would enjoy while also staying ethical.

When it comes to clothing, here are some questions you should ask yourself before buying:

  • Is it second hand?

  • Does it use organic materials?

  • Is it fairly traded?*

*Fair trade is an arrangement that helps producers achieve sustainable trade relationships

If the answer is yes, chances are the brand is reliable and ethical.

Here are some questions to ask to see if the brand is not reliable and you should refrain from buying:

  • Does it use toxic chemicals?

  • Is it fur or leather?

  • Is it dirty viscose?*

*Viscose has a very polluting manufacturing process and can sometimes be labeled as bamboo or rayon

When it comes to ethical brands, the products may seem expensive, but the price reflects what the garment is actually worth. This can help to reduce the amount of new clothes being bought and thrown away, helping to keep clothes out of the landfill. With high-prices in mind, some more affordable ways to make ethical decisions are purchasing second-hand, upcycling clothing, and repairing and renting clothes.

So this Christmas season before you buy, do your research on the brands, ask yourself questions indicating if the brand is ethical or not, and try to make the most sustainable decisions possible when buying for yourself, family, friends, or other loved ones.

Here is a list of some ethical brands to shop from this holiday season:

For more ethical brands and the stories behind their products, visit:


  • Clayton, Anna. “Ethical Clothing Brands.” Ethical Consumer, 8 Dec. 2021,

  • “How to Shop Ethically.” Ethical Consumer, 24 Sept. 2021,

  • Hunt, Tim. “Why Shop Ethically?” Ethical Consumer, 7 Apr. 2021,

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