Seven Places to Shop Sustainably in the New Year

Laura Head

Photo by Luca Laurence on Unsplash

I hate Amazon. I rue their existence.

Why, you may ask? Where to start.

Amazon is a major contributor to our environmental problems and to the widening inequality gap in our country. Amazon takes advantage of its workers, smashes small businesses, and often practices unethical factory conditions.

I try at all costs to avoid making purchases from Amazon (no pun intended). Instead, I try to spend my money via businesses that do good: Support the little guy, contribute to a healthier community, reduce waste. It's 2020, which means that more ethical options are a plenty, so long as we know where to find them. When I buy, I get the stuff I need, the stuff I want, and I get to go to sleep at night in good conscience, knowing that my money was spent building a brighter future.

There are plenty out there, but here are seven of my favorites - and why to buy from them.

Pact Full of personality, Pact’s driving mission is to be “earth’s favorite clothing.” Their clothes are all sourced from organic cotton, avoid toxic chemicals and require less water in production. The factories are fair trade too, meaning that the people making your clothes have safe working conditions and are earning more than meager wages, making a more sustainable livelihood. Still need another reason? Even their shipping methods are conscientious. Packaging reduces plastic as much as possible, and makes their own effort to offset the carbon footprint made by shipping your clothes to you.

And their clothes are cute to boot. Especially good for your pandemic lounging wear and your wardrobe basics, Pact’s wide selection gives you plenty of options while being a friend of the planet and international consumerism.

Everlane Everlane is like the lux end of Pact. They’re built on a lot of the same environmental and community-based values, but advertise clothes for all of the city-dwellers and fashionistas out there. Everlane toutes “radical transparency,” offering a candid cost breakdown from materials and labor to transport, duties, and hardware required for each item. Ever wonder why your pants cost what they do? Everlane shows you where each penny goes. They’re also fighting the environmental disaster that is fast fashion; the clothing company uses fabrics that are built to last, to provide you with long-lasting and versatile wardrobe staples.

My personal favorites are their jeans and dresses, but really, there’s nothing they can’t do.

Ebay Who could forget about the online classic of Ebay? Good for more than just auctioning off collectibles, Ebay is a solid standard if you’re looking to give household items a second life, which gives you an environmental edge. And since the site is host to so many independent sellers, they’re giving the empowerment to the little guy that Amazon often takes away. Why buy new when you can buy like new?

Public Goods Public Goods was a fun find. From toiletries and cleaning supplies to kitchen standards and groceries, all of their goods are simple, sustainable, and good for the planet. For the bathroom, get your lotions and shampoos in non-plastic bottles that are naturally compostable; for the kitchen, get bamboo-based paper products and non-toxic cleaning supplies; for your pantry, get groceries that are organic and non-gmo. There’s nothing to not like about Public Goods - so you can go stock up on everything you need while knowing that you’re doing good for yourself and the environment.

REI REI warms a part of my heart that I didn’t even know existed. They have an excellent marketing team that pulls you in with aesthetically pleasing photos and promises of a more outdoors-y future, sure, but they also promote community, stewardship, and the value of getting back to nature. When you buy equipment from REI, you’re not just buying a material thing, you’re buying into a collective effort to connect to one another, and a brighter environmental future. REI’s member-owned co-op offers free and low-cost classes for every sport (virtually, too!), discounts on their wear, and local community events. And their new buy-back program is reducing waste, too. A return of a used REI item means that you’re turning your well-loved sneakers into recycled material for someone else’s backpack, instead of adding to titanic amounts of landfill waste.

Craigslist You know Craigslist. Everyone knows Craiglist. It's just about as old as I am, and I think as old as the internet itself. And as the internet version of a yard sale, I am here for it. Before going to your favorite pricey home goods store, taking a look on Craigslist can land you with a less-expensive-and-in-great-condition alternative of that thing you have to have. And making the purchase from Craigslist means reducing your material consumption and supporting the little guy. It’s a win-win.

AllBirds I think AllBirds is new - or at least, it’s new to me. The athletic company has answered the question that's getting asked by many of the sportier friends of the environment: I want to shop sustainably, but how can I do so with my running gear? Aptly named for their commitment to healthier ecology, AllBirds uses nature-based materials instead of destructive synthetic alternatives to make their shoes and other athletic apparel. And they’re a B-corp, an organization structure canonically recognized for balancing profit with a greater positive purpose. As if that’s not enough, the company prides themselves on being a carbon-neutral business, meaning that they’re contributing to a brighter environmental future for us all.

Looking for a new years resolution for the year 2021? Consider your material pursuits as a place to make a change. Happy shopping!


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Passionate educator writing insights on learning, sharing travel thoughts, and whatever else comes to mind. Founder of Heads Up Learning, K-12 educator, blogger, and ☕️ addict.

New York City, NY

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