As a freshman in college I switched my major to Social Entrepreneurship because I had always been drawn to products with a positive impact. As a sophomore in college, I was hit hard when I started learning the details concerning the tragedy of Rana Plaza. The more I researched, the more I became appalled with my own standards and the consumer disconnect. These two life-shaping events inspired me to take action. I wanted to create a community interested in making a change.
I began writing about the socially responsible goods I had purchased and the importance of conscious consumerism. This eventually grew into The Honest Consumer. As The Honest Consumer community started to grow, I was pushed to research and learn more about conscious consumerism, but as a college student I struggled with two things: time management and budgeting.
In between class, work, and extracurricular activities it can be challenging to find time to sit down and research where your clothes are made. Let’s be honest, the last thing you need is another research project. As for shopping on a college budget, that’s hard enough as is - you can’t afford more stipulations...or so you think.
Creating An Impactful Wardrobe On A Budget
It’s easy and convenient to stop in the chain store by your campus and pick up a $30 dress, but what if you could get a $30 dress that was ethically made and empowered another person? I’m not saying buying ethical fashion on a college budget is easy, but it CAN be done. Here are a few pro-tips to help you get started!
1. Follow Ethical Fashion Blogs
If you’re reading this article, you are probably doing this step already which is great! Most ethical blogs do the research for you. They verify trustworthy brands and typically have some sort of directory, listing brands you can confidently purchase from. By following blogs, this gives you inside access to discount codes, giveaways, and other special offers bloggers might have up their sleeves.
2. Invest in Quality Products, Not Quantity
Ethical and sustainable fashion can actually SAVE you money. Before I started shopping ethically, the garments I was purchasing were made from incredibly flimsy fabric and would pill after the first wash. However, since my conscious consumer awakening, I noticed that the apparel I now purchase is made with higher quality materials and meant to last. Therefore, I’m not having to replace that dress every couple of months and I’m saving money in the long run.
I still have shirts I bought when I first started my conscious consumer journey as a sophomore and in my last semester of college, they still look new. I encourage you to invest in some nice classic pieces that you can dress up or dress down for the occasion so you are able to get plenty of use out of each garment.
3. Sign Up for Emails & Follow Ethical Brands on Social Media
Ethical shopping is just like shopping any other brand name. They send out coupons. They have end of season sales, holiday sales, and sales just because. I’m talking discounts anywhere from 10-50% and beyond. You will be surprised how affordable ethical fashion can be.
4. Swap Clothes with Friends
Rally up your dorm hall, invite your friends to bring their unwanted clothes, put on some groovy music, and order a pizza. Not only does this make for a fun social gathering, but you can add a few new pieces to your wardrobe while keeping clothes out of the landfill.
5. Buy Off Season
I’m notorious for buying big, heavy sweaters in March. While I might not get much use out of them at the time, they are cheaper. Buying off season gives me sweaters to look forward to next year!
College is a time when you discover who you are. For me, the ethical lifestyle helped me grow and create a community that I am incredibly passionate about. I have learned a lot about myself through this journey and I know there is a lot of good to come. College is great for exploring, so I invite you to open your mind to the world of ethical goods. Be part of the revolution and take part in change.