We Asked 500 Readers Which Sustainable Brands And Products They Actually Love
The Good Trade editors endorse products we’ve personally researched, tested, and genuinely love. Learn more about our methodology and business model here.
A few weeks ago, we reached out to our community of subscribers to The Daily Good to see how we’re all feeling about shopping in 2022—and what we’re thinking about for the holiday season. (How is it November?)
We believe that the most sustainable products are the ones you actually use, and are always excited to hear how you all approach sustainability in your own lives. It’s inspiring for our work, and for our own individual lives—we have so much to learn from one another.
So first, let’s dive into introductions!
We heard from 500 readers on their favorite brands, shopping habits, and gained plenty of insight from all the write-in options. Most of our respondents reside in North America and are between the ages of 18 and 54 (the average age being 29) and use she/her pronouns. (But we see you too, Europe and Australia! And all of our he/hims and they/thems 😘). Below are the key takeaways and recos from our readers—keep on scrolling to read about your (and our) favorite brands.
*If you’re shopping for the holidays or for your most-loved necessities, head over to our guide to the best Black Friday sales from sustainable brands in 2022.
1) Over half of your purchases are made from sustainable brands.
The majority of respondents (74%) shared that over half of their purchases come from sustainable brands—yet over half of readers surveyed said they only make 1-2 purchases a month from conscious brands. While many of you prioritize sustainability in your purchases, you take your time to find exactly which products will fit into your lifestyle. And when you shop online, you said you like to visit the brand directly—tending to stay away from places like Amazon—and cutting out those additional costs.
Discerning friends, can we hang out?
2) You would prefer to shop vintage, whenever possible.
One of our favorite findings was how much you all love to thrift and hunt for vintage and secondhand treasures. Many answers you submitted as write-ins included a mention of shopping used, and we’re so delighted to be in good company. The best advice we read? “Just thrift it and move on. Life is about experiences, NOT THINGS.” 🤗
3) When it comes to organic and sustainable materials, the kitchen matters most.
We asked you about where you prioritize nontoxic, organic, and sustainable goods the most—and weren’t surprised that the kitchen took the top spot. Organic food and nontoxic cookware are high on your list! But almost equally important was the bathroom; hygiene and skin care are such intimate parts of our routines that it’s no wonder we’re wanting to reduce harm there, too.
While nontoxic closets and bedrooms weren’t as high on the list, we still heard from plenty of you who wanted to prioritize organic and natural materials there as well. (After all, what touches our body is important too, not just what we put in it!)
4) Not surprising: Patagonia is your favorite sustainable brand.
It’s no surprise that Patagonia was the most-loved brand in this whole survey and the most beloved fashion brand. As one of the earliest defenders of environmental ethics in the industry, Patagonia continues to expand its commitment to labor ethics as well. We especially admire the founder’s recent decision to turn over the company to exclusively put profits toward climate initiatives moving forward. (And it has a secondhand shop, Worn Wear, as well!) Pact and Girlfriend Collective were named #2 and #3 as our readers’ top ethical fashion brands.
5) When it comes to home goods, you shop small.
Etsy was named our readers’ favorite place to shop for a wide variety of home goods, at reasonable prices, while supporting local makers and secondhand shops. The marketplace supports a move to more affordable and accessible retailers for sustainable wares. Avocado and Parachute were named #2 and #3 as our readers’ top sustainable home brands, both having strong commitments to healthy and organic materials, and divine design, they are form and function at its best.
MAGICLINEN ON ETSY
6) The best in clean beauty goes to ILIA, hands down.
But you still impressed us with how personal beauty is for each of you. This was the category with the most write-ins, from well-known drugstore brands down to small handmade skincare goodies. ILIA has long been one of our favorites, though, for its dewy Super Serum Skin Tint, which comes in 30 shades and offers SPF 40 coverage. In a tie for runners-up, OSEA and cocokind showed us that you all prioritize clean ingredients whether you have a big budget or a small skincare stipend.
7) When splurging on sheets, our readers think Parachute’s linens are worth every penny.
Your most recommended bedding brand was none other than Parachute Home! Parachute’s bedding is made in a family-owned factory in Portugal and touts Oeko-Tex certification for supporting healthier sleep (so long, harmful chemicals!) This is a reader fave thanks to its wide range of products, including durable European flax linen and breathable long-staple cotton. Readers love the multiple colorways, and so do we.
8) You don’t sacrifice comfort *or* cost when it comes to a good bra…
The most recommended brand for bras was Pact—organic, comfortable, and affordable. The brand offers a range of intimates, from bralettes to plunges, and t-shirt bras to sports bras. Paired with Pact’s organic underwear, jammies, or leggings, and you’ll find us doing a *chef’s kiss* too. (We’re all still keeping an eye on Pact for future size range increases, but you can find more size-inclusive bras here.)
9) …or when it comes to sustainable sneakers, with Allbirds being your favorite by far.
There’s a reason you’re hearing about Allbirds everywhere—it’s because these shoes don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. Respondents overwhelmingly noted this as the best brand for sustainable sneakers, and if you looked at our closets as well, you’d find at least one or two pairs. (Our editor loves the brand for everyday wear, and you can read her Allbirds running shoes review here.) We love that the brand is on the more affordable side and that the shoes are made with sustainable carbon-neutral materials.
10) But, you’ll invest in a good moisturizer (us too).
OSEA made its way into the recommendations a second time, specifically commended for being our readers’ favorite moisturizer. The advanced protection cream is the splurge-worthy moisturizer we all love most, but OSEA’s blemish balm is half the price and great for calming and clarifying. This California brand has been making clean, seaweed-infused skincare since 1996 and we can’t get enough. (Oh and don’t forget to check out their body oil, we’re gifting it to our bffs this year).
11) Our readers only like one brand more than a good pair of secondhand denim.
Even when readers did have a brand recommendation for denim, you often qualified “but secondhand!” Vintage and thrifted denim are too good—it’s well worn-in and fits like a glove—so we can’t fault you for that being your go-to for finding eco-friendly jeans. (You can find excellent options at Levis secondhand and Patagonia’s Worn Wear.) That being said, Everlane was the most-listed brand favorite for denim thanks to its affordability, durability, and wide range of options from skinny jeans to slouchy denim.
12) You’re leaders, not followers (of course you are! But here are some great ethical fashion influencers to follow anyway).
When we asked for your favorite ethical fashion influencers, the majority of you told us you didn’t have a go-to account that you like to follow. But if you are in the social media space, the rest of our readers suggested so many great creators—here are the three that came up most frequently. (Be sure to hit follow!)
13) Personal touches matter more than “more stuff” when it comes to your wishlist.
You all love giving—and getting—handmade items! When it comes to your list for Santa, most of you want to receive experience gifts like subscriptions and tickets to events. (Here’s our guide to experience gifts, be sure to check out your local botanical gardens and art galleries!)
But if you want to gift a more three-dimensional (read: tangible) item, gift recipients also enjoy receiving clothing, jewelry, books, and puzzles. Here are our top gift picks for her and gifts for him—plus, a roundup of stunning jewelry at a range of price points.
14) And you prefer to only give gifts you *know* someone will use.
You also can never go wrong with your second-favorite thing to give: consumables like beverages and candies. Those tasty treats ranked top in both what readers wanted to give and receive, and always make for a classy gift. Here are our picks for coffee, tea, and chocolate.
You may want to avoid makeup and skincare products unless you know your bestie’s routine really well—most people already purchase the products they love most for themselves. Readers also told us that robes and slippers are low on their wishlists; our guess is that we all already have these cozy items after the last few years of the pandemic.
Thank you, all, for sharing your insights with us and inspiring us as we head into 2023—we always share your feedback, notes of encouragement, and recommendations with each other in The Good Trade Slack channel. And as you head into the season of gifting and getting, remember to let your purchases sit for a moment of consideration—because the most sustainable option is the one you already have.
“I limit my shopping in general and try to use up all the crap I’ve accumulated over the years when I was spending like a wild woman who tried to always fit in,” said one wise reader. “I know better now […] to slow down and not be pressured to consume and spend.”
Wishing you all a slow and mindful rest of 2022!
Emily Torres is the Editorial Director at The Good Trade. Born and raised in Indiana, she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her in her colorful Los Angeles apartment journaling, caring for her rabbits, or gaming.