Sustainable Clothes Shopping on A Budget

Women wearing sustainable dress and sitting on the grass holding a flower

It has long been considered fact that ethical or sustainable fashion in any way is much more expensive than regular fashion.

While this, of course, can be true in some cases, the fashion world is now set up to allow consumers to more consciously shop for fashion at every budget.

By choosing specific fabrics in replacement of your regular selections you can ensure you make sustainable and eco-conscious decisions when it comes to your style.

There are many ways to shop like this on a budget.

This includes ensuring you make it onto every sale and discount email with your favorite eco-friendly brands.

All you need to do is make some small changes to your purchasing habits.

By ensuring that you give yourself all of the information available, you can begin to change your shopping habits and become more of an eco-friendly consumer at every budget.

What is Sustainable Fashion?

A poster to promote sustainable clothing with planet earth first written on it

There are many different words associated with sustainable fashion.

In general, it means producing fashion in the most sustainable way at all levels.

This includes production, protecting the environment, the people involved and any other ethical, moral or social factors.

Also known as eco-fashion, words such as fair-trade fashion, vegan fashion, organic fashion, and conscious shopping all sit underneath the umbrella of sustainable fashion.

All of these terms focus on all of these aspects surrounding protecting the environment.

Types of Sustainable Fashion

There are several types of sustainable fashion, which can be sectioned into three main category types.

Eco-friendly/Green Fashion

This focuses on factors relevant to the environment.

Production and manufacturing processes are built to be eco-friendly, reducing negative impacts on the environment as much as is possible.

This could include vegan and organic fabrics and green factories, working to reduce CO2 emissions.

Fair/Ethical Fashion

This has a focus on ethical and moral standards for anybody involved in the production process from the land-owners of farms to factory workers.

Ethical fashion aims to ensure that the process is fair to everybody involved from start to finish.

This includes both working conditions and fair pay.

Recycled/Upcycled Fashion

Whether it is using recycled fabric or repairing and repurposing a complete garment, this focuses on getting more use out of each piece of clothing.

From A Brand’s Perspective

Brands need to consider both the ethical, moral and environmental issues which arise when manufacturing and marketing fashion.

Some brands choose to focus more closely on one particular eco-friendly aspect.

For example, some brands focus on reducing their carbon footprint or producing only vegan-friendly clothing.

However, others choose to be more generally ethical.

From selecting factories to work with, to where the fabrics are produced initially, there is an environmental issue to consider at every point of the garment lifecycle for a brand.

The Down Sides to All Sustainable Fashion

A clothing rail of basic, sustainable clothes on hangers

Fashion can never be completely and fully sustainable.

There are many aspects where the production and marketing of fashion can be made eco-friendly.

But, there will always be parts of the world of fashion that are bad for the environment.

It comes down to the simplicity of wearing fashion.

Washing clothing, which uses water, electricity, and detergent, all of which are generally bad for the environment.

How to Choose What Types of Clothes to Buy

When it comes to shopping consciously, it’s often about paying more attention to the fabrics than to the clothing item itself.

Being more of an eco-friendly shopper might mean not jumping straight into a dress you’ve seen in the window display.

It’s more about taking the time to check the label and decide if the fabric composition is questionable in terms of sustainability.

Cotton Clothes

When it comes to choosing cotton clothes, like dresses, loose-fit trousers, and the basic T-shirt, opt for organic cotton instead.

Otherwise, opt for a different fabric with similar properties, choose linen or hemp.

This is because, although cotton is a natural material, it demands vast amounts of chemicals and water to be grown in such vast quantities.

Therefore, the demand means high levels of pollution as a consequence.

Organic cotton, linen, and hemp are significantly better for the environment.

Tencel Clothing

Tencel is certainly a buzzword in the world of ethical and sustainable clothing.

This hugely sustainable and wood-based fabric is many new ethical start-up’s go-to production materials.

We are starting to see high street labels and designer brands follow suit.

This highly breathable fabric, made from the pulp of Eucalyptus trees.

This fabric is softer than cotton and completely biodegradable.

Avoid Blends

Fabric blends are a common part of the fast-fashion industry.

You might see denim jeans with a blend of both cotton and elastane or an evening gown with a blend of silk and polyester.

What you may not know, is that blended fabrics cannot be recycled,

This is because there is not yet the technology that can “unblind” the fabrics and break them back down.

Because of this, if the entire garment is not re-sold, second hand or repurposed in some way, it is likely to head to straight to landfill.

This means that it will continue to damage the planet in its afterlife.

Where Can You Buy Sustainable Clothing?

Woman looking through clothing rack of clothing and shopping for sustainable fashion

Both sustainable fashion brands launching left, right and center in the style world.

As well as many high street and designer brands taking a more ethical stance when it comes to eco-friendly fashion.

So, you won’t be short for options when it comes to conscious shopping.


H&M is one of the high street leaders when it comes to proving they take eco-conscious clothing seriously.

This inexpensive and style-driven brand offers a great way to shop ethically, with the environment in mind, but on a budget.

Their Conscious Exclusive collection launched in 2011, using only sustainable fabrics.

Alongside this, the high street giant accepts donations of unwanted clothes, which are then recycled or donated, ensuring that no piece goes to landfill.


The brand that changed the face of fast-fashion with its two-week stock turnovers and immediate catwalk-led trends, Zara is in the midst of a complete brand restructure.

This year, it launched its first ever sustainable fashion range.

This is the start of a new way of working for the brand, which aims to become 100% recycled with all its cardboard in the near future.

The Join Life collection used organic cotton and recycled wool.

This is proving that even the fastest of fast-fashion giants have spotted that sustainability is the future of the high street.

Eco-Friendly Brands

There are thousands of eco-friendly fashion brands available now and thanks to the power of the internet, they are at the tips of your fingers.

A quick search online will produce hundreds of immediate options for you to begin shopping online as a sustainable shopper.

Therefore, you will not be limited of style and clothing types for every taste and occasion.

From Fair Trade brands, like People Tree, who are known to reduce their items in the sales to great prices, to the organic and eco-friendly brand, PACT, you’ll find dresses, denim, and even accessories to suit your new lifestyle.

How to Save Money When Shopping Sustainably

Woman holding a pile of knit jumpers

Ethical and sustainable clothing is often not cheap.

This is because the intrinsic value of the clothing comes from paying good and fair wages at every level of production.

As well as this, using quality, sustainably-made fabrics, and resources leads to higher costs and therefore, higher prices.

However, there are certain ways that you can still shop your style sustainably even if you’re on a budget.

Do Your Research

If you’ve decided to partake in conscious shopping from now on, do your research.

Find brands that meet your ethical and environmental standards.

Also, design with your style in mind, and get signed up for their newsletters and email blasts so that you’re always the first to hear about sales and a great discount code.

Shopping for more expensive, better quality and sustainable items in the sale mean you can get a great piece and feel good about it, without breaking the bank.

Be More Selective

Shopping sustainably can also help your style credentials because you’ll learn to be more selective and only choose great, beautiful pieces because they are more expensive.

Instead of spending lots of money on fast-fashion, often, you will choose more carefully and fill your wardrobe with better quality, more stylish looks.

It is said that, on average, women use only 40% of their wardrobes.

So, save money by shopping your own closet and reminding yourself of great items you bought and loved but only wore twice before discarding to the back of the closet.

Swap Shops

Another great way to become conscious and save money on sustainable fashion is with local swap shops.

You can now find events and groups, which are dedicated to swapping fashion with one another to recycle clothes with the help of social media.

Whether it’s an in-person meeting or a digital discussion, sustainable fashion lovers can meet and swap clothes to ensure your unwanted items.

This way, you can avoid landfill and gain a new lease on life.

Whether you’re an eco-friendly shopping expert or are just starting out on your journey, the switch to sustainable fashion can be done on a budget.

All you need is a little extra research and thought.

Considering the impact your piece of clothing might have had on an underprivileged community or on the environment itself is the best place to start.