Livvy’s Top 6 Problems with Shopping 100% Ethically


The fashion industry is the SECOND biggest pollutant in our world environment. Issues around ethical clothing & fashion manufacturing, fair trade and the impact on our environment mean that we do not want to buy fast fashion, unethical fashion, or clothes made out of unnatural fibres (see this Guardian article for more info on how fibres are affecting our oceans).

Here at AIRR, we are always trying to make sure we have the least impact possible but there are some things we just cannot find, or there are reasons why we just can’t seem to be 100% ethical.

In this post AIRR’s own, Livvy Punnett shares her top 6 problems with trying to shop ethically.

1 Underwear

Organic or natural fibres are extremely hard to find in underwear. One of our stocked brands Braintree Clothing does offer bamboo underwear Braintree Clothing and Amnesty International’s shop has some good sources of ethical underwear Amnesty Shop, but as for bras, we are still searching high and low.

2 Children’s clothes

We have written about this problem before. There are places to find organic children’s clothing for example and Cambridge Baby but they only go up to age 10ish in general so once they are teenagers it’s no longer possible to buy directly ethical or organic clothing. They are a bit more pricey than the high street too, so using them as staples only can be the best way to use them. There is always shopping second hand on sites such as Ebay which we do a lot for our kids, as well as car boot sales, charity shops and ‘hand me downs’. Once they are teenagers though, second hand is the only way to be ethical it seems.

The other BIG issue here is school uniform. It’s all made in Bangladesh or China and is not made from particularly great materials. Most years I am forced into a Sainsbury’s or M&S to supplement hand me downs because there is Nowhere we have found to buy school uniform ethically. I have managed to buy some cotton tights from the above mentioned places for my little girl which stopped her getting eczema on her legs almost immediately but she’s now getting above the age that they make them.

3 Money 

Mentioned a little bit above – It’s GOT to be a different way of shopping. As Vivienne Westwood says “Buy Less, Choose Well” – being thoughtful about the staple, key wardrobe pieces is a great way to start. As well as feeling good for not supporting the large, unethical, conglomerates this does save money in the long run. Again outfits can be supplemented with second hand items whilst you build up to the ethical wardrobe you truly love.


4 Coats

This used to be something that was just not available to buy ethically. Especially if you needed waterproof walking gear, or something practical as well as fashionable.

The first brands we found to be making ethical coats were Komodo with wool coats and People Tree with cotton ones. We stock both of these and others have quickly followed – Braintree now offer some great waterproofs (pictured below) as well as my favourite, Skunkfunk.

Skunkfunk are made in the Basque country in Spain where it rains quite a bit…a little bit like Wirksworth and many parts of the UK really! Therefore these coats are waterproof to the standard of the proper weather gear we often need, whilst also being fashionable, interesting and beautifully designed. The perfect coat! Look out for a full review of our coats on this blog soon, in the meantime here are a few which can be found on our web site.

5 Bedding

Ecological company, Method Cleaning Company discussed this issue in a Sunday newspaper interview a few years ago. Considering we spend around 25 years of our lives sleeping our bedding is pretty important – it’s the time when our skin, the biggest organ of our body, is closest to fabric for the longest time.

As with all our fabrics we hope ethical products will become mainstream but for now there are a number of places where organic cotton bedding can be found such as Sheffield based, The Natural Bed Company and King of Cotton although we can’t vouch for their ethical status as companies. There are also some fantastic prints from fair trade champion, Traidcraft.

All good sleeps need a comfy pair of pyjamas too – check out our own organic pyjamas here

6 Periods!

This is a key area where organic or sustainable fibres seem to have to go out the window! If you use tampons, sanitary towels, panty liners or even incontinence wear of any kind, we must try to find something organic to put next to or even inside our skin. It makes a lot of sense for these intimate things to be clean in a chemical free sense. Finding Moon Cup has revolutionised my cycles, I feel so much more secure wearing one, and the initial getting used to it is well worth it for this reason. Not to mention they are the make the least waste and are not a throw away product. Find them here on the Mooncup website and find throw away alternatives from Monthlies & Natracare.

Have you had other challenges when trying to shop 100% ethically? Have you found alternatives to any of the problems mentioned here?

Please share with us in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.



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