Is Wool Ethical? What to Look For with Wool, Alpaca and Cashmere

As temperatures drop we want to stay comfy and cozy, many reaching for warm woolen sweaters and cardigans. Wool offers many great insulating and breathable properties and is wonderful in winter. However it comes from animals so for anyone concerned about animal welfare, questions about wool and animal cruelty come up.

Can Wool be an Ethical Material?

Unlike many other animals products, fibre animals do not need to be killed to obtain wool and many fibre animals need to shed to their fleece or be shorn yearly to stay healthy and comfortable. Wool falls into more of a grey area regarding ethical considerations and many people, including vegans, have different thoughts on if wool can actually be cruelty-free.

In my opinion it can be, depending on the circumstances. If sheep, alpacas, and goats are farmed, shorn, bred, and cared for in a healthy, respectful, and humane way then wool can be a responsible purchase.

Wool has been used and farmed for centuries and still plays an important role in many cultures. When fibre animals are not over-bred and farmed on mass-scale, it can also play a very important role within carbon farming and a regenerative agriculture system.

I’ve been interested in local clothing movements for a decade now and have visited and spoken with many farmers/ranchers. I’ve seen how fibre animals can be raised in a way where there is a respectful, symbiotic relationship between animals, humans, and the ecosystem. However it’s important to note that the average high street sweater unfortunately doesn’t represent these values and wool can also come from cruel and inhumane practices.

Heard of sheep - Regenerative wool farming

Factory Farming vs Regenerative and Indigenous Wool Farming

Like other things in the fashion industry, many of the ethical issues stem from a high demand for cheaper clothing which has created the harmful factory farming of fibre animals. Wool that comes from intensive farming focused on maximizing profits is harmful to animals and the environment, and the animals are seen solely as commodities instead of living beings.

Factory farming also seeks to maximize wool output by shearing animals multiple times a year, outside of their natural cycle (getting rid of their winter coats for spring and summer).

Whereas Indigenous and regenerative farming takes a holistic approach. It supports the long-term health of our environment, understanding the synergistic role animals play in agriculture and the respect and wellbeing they deserve.

Fibre farms can also be a big contributor towards soil erosion and desertification, however sustainable livestock and land management can actually reverse the issues and restore grassland ecosystems.

So is wool ethical? Yes and no it’s complicated. And like with most things in the fashion industry, we need to know where our clothing comes from and look for brands that are transparent about their wool and fibre sourcing and animal welfare standards.

Why not avoid all wool to be safe?

Sadly anywhere animals are involved there is the possibility of animal abuse and cruelty. If you want to try your best to ensure no animals were harmed then avoiding all animal products can be a good solution for some.

Unfortunately though the alternatives aren’t great and many have their own issues as well. Wool is a natural, highly functional, and durable clothing material that can’t be replicated with synthetic alternatives, and fibre farming has many benefits as part of a climate positive clothing production cycle.

I see a lot of value in wool as a material and in supporting brands who prioritize the wellbeing of animals and improving the environment, but this decision will be different for each person based on your values.

Natural wool yarns

Types of Wool and Animal Fibres

🐑 Wool

Wool comes from sheep and has been used since the Stone Age to clothe and protect humans. As a fiber it contains many wonderful properties:

  • Wool is very durable and has natural elasticity – wool garments can last more than a lifetime.
  • It is antimicrobial and antibacterial. Meaning it does not need to be washed as often as other materials and doesn’t easily get smelly.
  • Wool has great thermoregulating properties. The unique structure can keep you both warm or also help with cooling. Wool can draw up to a third of it’s weight in moisture from the skin before feeling wet so you’ll be toasty warm without overheating or feeling sweaty or clammy.
  • Wool is also naturally stain and fire resistant.

There are a variety of types of wool from different breeds of sheep and some are more suited to certain types of clothing because of things like texture and itchiness. Depending on the garment, for example hiking clothing vs outerwear vs an everyday sweater, certain wool qualities (such as softness) will be more or less important.

Ethical Considerations: There devastatingly is no shortage of accounts of animal abuse in the wool industry. So when shopping for any wool product traceability and transparency is important.

Look for: Brands that have animal welfare and sustainable farming standards and policies. Ideally brands work directly with small family farms, have visited the farms, and know exactly where their materials come from.

You can also keep an eye out for Climate Beneficial™ wool meaning the wool was farmed within a regenerative agriculture system. It’s still a small certification, but hopefully will keep growing!

Merino Wool

I want to single out merino wool because this is a very common type of wool in apparel. It is a crimpy softer fiber and in high demand for it’s light weight and wicking properties as well as for comfort.

Ethical Considerations: Merino wool in particular has certain ethical issues to be aware of. Because it is in such high demand, merino wool can be over-bred and factory farmed, resulting in both environmental and animal cruelty issues. There is also a horrible practice called mulesing done to merino sheep which involves cutting away chunks of skin.

Look for: Brands that make it clear their wool is non-mulesed, have animal welfare standards, and sustainable farming practices.

ZQ certified wool – This is a certification that includes animal welfare, environmental, and social components and is also working to help farmer implement more regenerative practices.

What is alpaca wool? Ethics and sustainability of alpaca fiber

🦙 Alpaca

Alpaca is a wonderful material for sweaters and knitwear worn against the skin. It is fine, light, wonderfully soft and doesn’t contain lanolin – the oil most people who have wool allergies react to, so it’s naturally hypoallergenic and not irritating.

Ethical Considerations: Alpaca wool mainly comes from South America and the Peruvian highlands where animals live in their natural habitats and are farmed using indigenous and traditional methods. Alpacas can also live in rocky areas which are unsuitable for crops or other animals. Of all the animal fibres available, alpacas are most likely to be raised in a traditional and sustainable way. However there are also alpaca ranchers around the world with different practices.

It’s also important to note that “baby alpaca” does not mean it’s from the babies but rather refers to the finest grading of alpaca fibres.

Look for: Brands that are transparent and can trace their alpaca sourcing. Ideally brands that work directly with small, sustainable family farms.

🐐 Cashmere

Cashmere is the soft undercoat of the Kashmir goat. It is lighter and softer than wool and great for thinner, luxurious knits.

Ethical Considerations: Unlike sheep and alpaca, cashmere fibre is not shorn from the animals but combed out during their seasonal molting, many view this as a better option as it reduces the chance of cutting the animals (although a well-trained shearer should never cut the animals). However due to the high demand for cashmere some goat herds are intensively farmed and shorn instead of combed to cut costs (which also results in a poorer quality fibre).

Look for: Cashmere from the goats’ natural habitats in Asia and brands which sourced from farms with traditional and sustainable practices. Cashmere has also been a big contributor towards desertification so brands that care about responsible and restorative land management is also important.


Wool is a fascinating fibre and I feel like there is still so much to learn about it and regenerative fiber farming. If you are interested in learning more I recommend checking out Fibershed.

I’d love to know your thoughts on wool and the ethical dilemmas that come along with it.

Also check out our roundup of sustainable sweaters and knitwear brands.

10 Cozy, Sustainable & Ethical Sweaters

posted in brand roundups 0

It’s sweater weather! Get cozy with these sustainable sweaters and knitwear.

Wondering what the difference is between alpaca and cashmere, or if wool is even an ethical choice? Check out this companion post all about wool – it’s fibre properties, the ethical considerations and what to look for to make more responsible and cruelty-free choices.

The brands I’ve picked have a variety of materials and different approaches and transparency around their ethics, so I think you’ll be able to find something that speaks to your style and values.

(please note: some affiliate links may be used in this post)

Quick References Symbols
🐑 – Wool
🦙 – Alpaca
🐐 – Cashmere
🌱- Cotton
♻️ – Recycled Materials


Izzy Lane

I love Izzy Lane‘s mission to rescue sheep from slaughter and revitalize local manufacturing. If you’re looking for a wool brand that deeply cares about animal welfare this is it!

Their staple items can be worn for decades or passed down. Both my husband and I have Izzy Lane Sweaters which we wear every fall and winter.

🐑 Izzy Lane’s sweaters are made from their own flock of rescued sheep who will live out their lives on their pasture.

Size Range: XS – XL

Values: Small-scale Manufacturing, Made in Britain

Based In: UK, ships international


Kowtow

Kowtow makes both classic and cool cotton knitwear in beautiful bright and neutral colours. Great option for vegan friendly sweaters and cardiagans!

🌱 Kowtow’s knitwear is made from fair trade certified organic cotton.

Size Range: XS – XXL

Values: Sustainable Materials, SA8000 certified factories, Take-Back/Circularity Initiatives, Transparency

Based In: New Zealand, ships international DDP


Ally Bee

Ally Bee makes classic, heritage style jumpers and accessories from 100% natural materials.

🐑🦙🐐 ♻️ Ally Bee uses a variety of wool, alpaca, and cashmere, learn more about their materials and sourcing here. They also have a collection of recycled cashmere.

Size Range: S – L

Values: Sustainable Materials, Plastic Free, Made in UK (most of collection)

Based In: UK, ships international


Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher has a large collection of sustainable sweaters mainly in their classic, comfortable cuts and neutral colours.

🐑🐐🌱 Eileen Fisher’s knitwear is available in organic cotton, organic linen, merino wool certified to the Responsible Wool Standard, and cashmere; it’s important to note that they have a small collection of recycled cashmere but most of their cashmere does not have info on sourcing or ethical standards.

Size Range: XXS – 3X

Values: Sustainable Materials, Take-Back/Circularity Initiatives, B Corp

Based In: USA, ships international


People Tree sustainable sweater

People Tree

Sustainable and fair trade fashion pioneer People Tree always has a nice collection of both cotton and wool jumpers and cardigans.

🌱🐑 People Tree has both PETA-certified vegan sweaters made from organic cotton and organic wool sweaters (merino wool sourced from NZ). They provide some information about their animal welfare standards on the product page.

Size Range: UK 8 – 16

Values: Sustainable Materials, GOTS certified, Fair Trade Certified, Transparency

Based In: UK, ships international


Amour Vert

Amour Vert is great for both basics and more stylish pieces. Their sweater styles range from oversized fits to wrap cardigans, to cute puff-sleeved pieces in both neutrals and colours.

🌱 Amour Vert has a good selection of organic cotton sweaters and cardigans. (They also sell a few merino wool pieces which they say are non-mulesed but unfortunately don’t provide any other information)

Size Range: XS – XL

Values: Sustainable Materials, Made in America, Gives Back

Based In: USA, also ships to Canada, Australia, France, Germany & UK


Babaa

Babaa‘s knitwear somehow strikes a perfect balance of contemporary but also classic styles that you’ll be able to wear for decades. Their knitwear is made in Spain from fibre to finished product.

🐑🌱 Babaa sources their wool and cotton locally. Their wool comes from generational herders who follow traditional practices and responsible land management.

Size Range: One Size

Values: Small-scale Manufacturing, Vertically Integrated, Plastic Free, Made in Spain

Based In: Spain, ships international


Naadam

Naadam goes beyond the traditional sweater, also offering unique and fashion forward cashmere knitwear.

🐐 Naadam focuses on cashmere which they source from native herders in the Gobi desert who use traditional hand-combing. Some of their cashmere is blended with wool, cotton, and modal however they unfortunately provide little information about the sustainability and sourcing of these other materials.

Size Range: XXS – 3X

Values: Direct Trade, Carbon Neutral Shipping, – They also have other goals they’re working on to achieve by 2025

Based In: USA, ships international


Back Beat Co. organic cotton sweater

Back Beat Co.

Looking for not-so-basic knitwear? Back Beat Co. serves up cool, Californian style. They are a great pick if you’re looking for color!

🌱 Back Beat Co.’s sustainable sweaters are all made from organic cotton – a great vegan-friendly option.

Size Range: XS – XXL

Values: Sustainable Materials

Based In: USA, ships international


Organic Basics recycled wool sweater

Organic Basics

While they only have a few sweaters, I really appreciate Organic Basics‘ sustainability and transparency – plus they make great basics!

♻️ Organic Basics sweaters are made with recycled wool – a great option for reducing waste, saving energy and resources, and avoiding ethical issues with new wool.

Size Range: XS – XL

Values: Sustainable Materials, Transparency

Based In: Denmark, ships international


Don’t Forget Secondhand!

Thrifting is wonderfully sustainable and also a good way to ensure you’re not supporting unethical practices.

Here are our favorite places to buy secondhand clothing.


Knit Your Own

Knitting is a fun and fulfilling project, and you can make exactly what you want!

One of the best things you can do is try to source local wool from sustainable and responsible farms or local yarn stores. It’s a wonderful way to support small businesses and often you can even visit the farms. Check if there is a Fibershed near you where many farmers also use regenerative practices.

We also have a roundup of sustainable fabric and yarn stores!

Wool and the Gang

Wool and the Gang is great if you’re looking for cute and trendy styles and everything you need to make your own sweater!

♻️ Some of their yarns are definitely better than others and for sustainability and ethics we’d recommend sticking with their upcycled or organic cotton and hemp blend yarns.

The Hidden Carbon Footprint of your Online Habits

posted in home, Lifestyle 0

Are your google searches hurting the environment?

Is checking your email and streaming a movie affecting the planet? Yes, but it’s not as bad as you think.  

If you’re one of the 4.1 billion people who use the internet worldwide, then you’ve probably checked your email, sent some texts and maybe even watched a YouTube video today after someone sent you a link. As the day goes on, you’ll do more activities online as we now count on the internet to do so many things for us from organizational tasks to entertainment. 

The hidden carbon footprint of your online habits

So how much energy do we actually use?

From the energy needed to run each of our devices to the energy it takes to run the vast servers and cloud services, it’s estimated to account for 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions and are predicted to double by 2025.

Many companies claim to power their data centres using renewable energy, but many are still largely powered from the burning of fossil fuels. Many of the major cloud providers have pledged to cut their carbon emissions.

Search engines

According to Google, an average user – someone who performs 25 searches each day, watches 60 minutes of YouTube, has a Gmail account and accesses some of its other services – produces less than 8g (0.28oz) CO2e a day. While that’s a good figure, I’ll bet you still didn’t realise that casual internet usage used even that much energy. 

Watching TV

Streaming your favourite movies and TV shows now counts for up to 60% of the world’s internet traffic and generates 300m tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. But some experts insist that the energy needed to store and stream videos is less than more intensive computational activities performed by data centres.

According to Netflix, its total global energy consumption reached 451,000 megawatt hours per year in 2019, which is enough to power 37,000 homes, but insists it purchases renewable energy certificates and carbon offsets to compensate for any energy that comes from fossil fuel sources.

Listening to music

Streaming music? It’s been shown that if you want to listen to a song more than 27 times, it’s actually greener to buy a physical copy of it rather than streaming. 

What about lockdown?

The numbers above don’t even take into consideration that during the hard lockdown in the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, a study from Yale estimates that internet usage increased by up to 40% worldwide. This spike in online activity triggered a demand for up to 42.6 million megawatt-hours of additional electricity to support data transmission and to power data centers.

How much energy does the internet and computers use?

So what can I do about it?

While there are bigger issues surrounding trying to curb greenhouse gas emissions, this shows that our online habits can still have a negative impact and it’s up to us and the companies that serve us to do a better job of cutting down emissions. 

How to Reduce your Online Energy Use

  • Switch to greener suppliers

    Switch to a renewable energy supplier and replace energy-consuming IT equipment with the lowest carbon product. Also make sure that you recycle any equipment effectively. 

  • Change the way you use email

    Unsubscribe from all those email lists you know you never check any way and use services like WeTransfer to send large images and attachments instead of attaching them to the mail directly. 

  • Switch off and save

    Simply making sure your devices are powered off when not in use or using energy saving settings makes a difference. 

  • Turn off your camera

    If they don’t need to see your face, then turn off the camera. This can save your internet connection as well as carbon emissions. 

I Tried Toothpaste Tablets for a Month – Here’s What I Learned

While on my personal journey to replace my everyday bath products with eco-friendly alternatives, I knew that my dental products were responsible for most of my plastic use. Having spent my whole life using toothpaste tubes, I was reluctant to try other formulas… until I heard about Bite

Bite’s website offers a wide range of eco-friendly dental products such as whitening gel and mouthwash, but they are most known for their toothpaste bits/tablets. 

At least 1.5 billion toothpaste tubes are thrown out globally each year. Most of these tubes are made of environmentally harmful materials such as an unrecyclable combination of plastic and aluminum. Bite’s toothpaste bits come in a pressed pellet form and are packaged in a glass bottle—totally eliminating the need for plastic.

These bits are also working to keep your teeth healthy. Bite’s formula is 100% gluten-free, vegan, and cruelty-free. That means there are no sulfates, parabens, or preservatives used. The bits are also fluoride-free. 

Bite solid toothpaste bits

I decided to give Bite’s formula a try. Here’s what I learned:

I ordered the trial-size bottle of the original Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits. My package came secured in a brown cardboard envelope (again, no plastic) within about three days. The jar was surprisingly small for what I was expecting. Standing at only about two inches tall, the glass jar is able to fit 62 toothpaste bits which should last two months.

The tablets are an off-white color and a bit chalky to touch. You’re supposed to chew a tablet and then start brushing with a wet toothbrush. Now, there was definitely a bit of a learning curve. Having always used toothpaste, the transition to tablets was strange for me at first. Although, after a few days, I learned how to properly chew and brush in order to reap the best results and I quickly got used to it.

I wasn’t sure how much the tablet would dissolve versus how much I needed to chew it first. It took me a few times to get used to this method because you need to chew the tablet thoroughly to avoid having crumbs in your mouth as you brush. 

Once I started brushing, it began to foam like regular toothpaste. If you’re someone that usually puts a lot of toothpaste on your brush, I would recommend trying two tablets at a time if you find there isn’t enough foam to clean your whole mouth. 

As for the taste, I really have no complaints. It’s just as minty as your usual product. My mouth and teeth felt just as clean as they do when using tubed toothpaste. 

Overall, I would consider Bite toothpaste bits to be a great alternative option. The package was trustworthy, the application was fairly easy, and the aftermath felt similar to usual toothpaste. 

Try Bite for yourself by purchasing a mini bottle (62 toothpaste tablets, $12). You can also join the subscription service The Fresh Mint Club, which will send you a full-size bottle (248 toothpaste tablets, $30) every four months.

If you’re curious about other zero waste toothpaste alternatives, check out these options as well: 

Sustainable Clothing Brands for the Whole Family

Looking for an easy, one-stop shop to pick up sustainable and ethically-made clothing for everyone in your family? Here’s a roundup of brands that make conscious clothes for women, men, and children so your whole family can have a lighter impact on the planet.

This round-up is in partnership with tentree, one of my family’s most-worn sustainable clothing brands.

Our family in tentree - Sustainable clothing for the whole family
Our family in tentree
(please note: some affiliate links may be used in this post)

tentree

If you counted the brands in our closet, between my husband and I tentree would be a clear favourite. We love their focus on functional, comfortable, and good quality, yet still stylish and easy-to-wear everyday clothing.

Regarding their sustainability, tentree’s efforts and impact goes well beyond planting trees with each purchase, they also:

  • Use lower impact materials such as Tencel, organic cotton, hemp, and recycled polyester made from plastic bottles.
  • Track the environmental footprint of their garments.
  • Pay living wages and their code of conduct for factories is publicly available.
  • Are working to completely eliminate virgin plastic from all packaging materials by 2023.
  • Are transparent about where their products are made.

tentree is our family’s go-to for comfy pieces and they have a great variety of styles. They’re a staple brand in my husband’s wardrobe and our toddler is the newest tentree fan, absolutely loving her cozy “sunny hoodie” as she calls it.

Based in: Canada, also have US webshop
Sizes: Women XS-XXL, Men S-XXL, Children 1T – 5
Price for a T-Shirt: $25 – $45

Our family in tentree - Sustainable clothing brands for the whole family
All wearing tentree hoodies and Ben and I wearing tentree pants

Dedicated

Looking for fun prints and graphics? This is the brand for you! Dedicated is a Swedish streetwear brand with strong values – they use sustainable materials like GOTS and Fair Trade certified cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel, are a PETA-Approved vegan brand, and manufacture with SA8000 and WRAP certified factories.

Based in: Sweden
Sizes: Women XS-XL, Men XS-XXL, Children 56-134
Price for a T-Shirt: €29 – €35

EarthHero

A marketplace for all your sustainable needs! US-based EarthHero carries a fantastic selection of not just women’s, men’s, baby and children’s clothing brands but also sustainable accessories, home, and low-waste lifestyle products.

Based in: USA
Sizes: Women XS-XXL, Men S-XXL, Children 0M-8
Price for a T-Shirt: $24 – $37

PACT

A good brand for basics and wardrobe staples. PACT has a variety of essentials, everyday clothes, activewear, and loungewear made from organic cotton in Fair Trade certified factories .

Based in: USA
Sizes: Women XS-XXL, Men S-XXL, Children NB-10/12
Price for a T-Shirt: $24 – $48

Sustainable clothing brands for men, women, & children
Images from Pact

Living Crafts

German brand Living Crafts carries a large variety of organic basics, loungewear, underwear, pajamas, and everyday clothes for the whole family. They are GOTS certified and members of the Fair Wear Foundation.

Based in: Germany
Sizes: Women XS-XL, Men S-XL, Children 62-158
Price for a T-Shirt: €13 – €45

Warp + Weft

Need some new denim for the family? Warp + Weft has jeans for everyone and their denim is spun, dyed, and sewn in their own US-based factory where they have implemented water-saving initiatives and low-impact finishing.

Based in: USA
Sizes: Women 00-24, Men 29-42, Children 2T-14
Price for Jeans: $26 – $98

Made Trade

Another great marketplace, Made Trade offers a variety of clothing and home goods with a focus on quality craftsmanship, artisan-made products, fair manufacturing, and sustainability.

Sustainable clothing brands for men, women, & children
Images from Made Trade

The Good Tee

The name says it all. Canadian-brand The Good Tee makes organic and fair trade tees and tops. If you’re looking for a fun family project also check out their natural tie-dye kit.

Based in: Canada
Sizes: Women XS-XXL, Men XS-XXL, Children 0M-14 years
Price for a T-Shirt: $25 – $40

Patagonia

A sustainable staple for outdoor, active and everyday casual-wear. Patagonia uses a variety of sustainable materials, has a great take-back/upcycling program, and the majority of their products are Fair Trade certified.

Based in: USA
Sizes: Women XXS-XXL, Men XS-XXXL, Children NB-14
Price for a T-Shirt: $29 – $55


Don’t forget Secondhand

Shopping secondhand is one of the most sustainable and affordable ways to get clothes, here are some great places to thrift clothing online.

Minimalist & Sustainable Gifts Kids & Teens will Love

Gifts are always tricky when it comes with wanting to live more minimally and clutter-free or trying to reduce your environmental impact and make more sustainable choices, but whether you are the gift-giver, or parent trying to request more conscious or sustainable gifts for kids, here are our tried and tested gift ideas that minimalist and eco-minded families and kids will appreciate.

Sustainable and Minimalist Gift Ideas for Kids
(please note: some affiliate links may be used in this post)

Tickets or Memberships

This is an easy, exciting, and clutter-free gift, that allows the celebration to extend beyond just the special day! There are tons of options for experience gifts depending what the child is interested in, but here are a few great ideas for places you can gift tickets or memberships:

  • movie theatre
  • waterpark
  • museum
  • science centre
  • sports event
  • amusement park
  • gallery
  • escape room
  • ski hill
  • theatre

Bath Bombs & Bubble Bars

Swirling fizzy colours, fluffy bubbles, fruity or floral scents, and sustainably shimmery water- bath bombs are not only enjoyable for adults but kids love them too!

Lush makes bath products that are particularly fun for children and teens and one of our go-to “consumable” and clutter-free gifts. They have tons of bright colours and scents and I appreciate their attention to low waste packaging as well as cruelty-free and ethically-sourced ingredients (they’re one of the few brands that proudly uses child labour free mica).

Minimalist gift ideas for kids - Bath Bombs and Bubble bars
Some of our picks for kids are Unicorn Horn and Rainbow bubble bars, and Groovy Kind of Love bath bomb

Audiobooks

A great digital, zero waste gift that can offer adventure, discovery, education, and screen-free entertainment.

Libro.fm is hands-down my favourite place to get audiobooks from, they have a fantastic variety of books and a wonderful mission to support local bookstores. You can gift individual books or a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription. They have a huge young adult selection and a well-curated assortment of kids audiobooks.

Sustainable & Minimalist Gift Ideas for Kids - Audiobooks

Anything Needed

Practical and useful gifts don’t have to be boring – does the child need new pjs, a backpack, winter coat, shoes? Look for a fun option or something that really fits their style for a gift that will be sure to get a lot of use.

Check out our list of sustainable children’s brands for some great consciously-made products!


Eco Friendly Art Supplies

Drawing, painting, and crafting is always a great gift – they allow for endless creativity and are items that can be used up to reduce clutter!

Earth Hero has a great selection of sustainable art supplies for kids including beeswax crayons, natural playdough, non-toxic paints, and more!

Eco art supplies from Earth Hero - Sustainable Gift Ideas for Kids

Coupons

This is a classic experience gift and can be a fun way to make memories. Give the child coupons they can redeem for things they’ll enjoy. Here’s some ideas:

  • movie night
  • trip for ice cream
  • staying up late
  • choice of dinner
  • extra screen time
  • treat of choice

One “Big Ticket” Gift

This is what we do with my daughter! Instead of everyone giving individual gifts (which often don’t align with our sustainability and minimalist values) we ask friends and family who want to give a gift to instead contribute towards one more expensive “big ticket” gift which we know she’ll love and get a lot of use from! This has been a fantastic way to keep gifts in our home more sustainable and minimalist while also being able to get some very special and well loved toys.

Trying to do this for a birthday party? Look into throwing a Fiver Party!

If you are the gift giver and want to go this route, ask the parent if there is something the child is saving up for and if you can get a gift card and contribute towards that, or if there is a special item you and some other people could buy together.


Looking for more sustainable gift ideas? Check out our green gift guide!

Best Online Thrift Stores to Buy (& Sell) Secondhand Clothes

Thrifting in person is always an adventure, and with so many online thrift stores and apps now available, purchasing used clothing has never been easier. Online options make secondhand shopping more accessible and considerably less frustrating if you are having trouble finding your size. For the best success, choose items with photos showing all sides of the garment, list measurements, type of material and condition.

Below is a guide to second-hand shopping online to help find your next preloved treasure. Happy browsing! 

Poshmark

Poshmark is a very popular and user-friendly website and app for secondhand items. Sellers and buyers have easy communication between them and it is simple to find specific items through their search functions. You can sort item searches by item type, brand, price range, condition and shipping.

Selling items is made easy with printable shipping labels and payment processing built into the app. 

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Women, Men, Kids, Accessories, Home, Pets, Designer
Available In: United States, Canada, Australia 
Size Range: XXS – 5X; petite, plus, maternity, junior 

Can you sell your clothes? Yes, through their app. While it is free to list items, Poshmark does take a fee from any sales.

Vinted

Vinted is a European website and app focused on peer to peer sales. It has the feel of a social media app with the organization and details of retail websites. Buyers can message sellers to see more photos, ask questions and finalize a sale. The app features an icon to save favourites to your board for inspiration or to save for later. You can sort item searches by item type, condition, proximity to you, colour and price.

There is a comment section on each item page where buyers can ask questions publicly for the seller to answer about the product.  Selling items is made easy with printable shipping labels and payment processing built into the app. 

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Women, Men, Kids & Baby, Accessories, Shoes, Beauty, Toys & Games
Available In: UK, United States, Canada, Europe
Size Range: XXXS – 3XL; No other size filters available.

Can you sell your clothes? Yes, through their app. It is free to list items and Vinted does not take any fees on sales. 

Where to buy secondhand clothing online

thredUP

thredUP is a thrift and consignment shop website that focuses on designer clothing and recognizable brands, as well as very affordable sales, with some items advertised as less than $5. You are purchasing from the website directly, and will not have contact with the original seller. 

If you’re looking to clean out your closet with some kickbacks, but aren’t as concerned about making money from your items, thredUP will send you a bag to fill up and sell them on your behalf. 

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Women, Shoes, Accessories, Kids, Designer
Available In: United States, Canada 
Size Range: XXS – 5XL; petite, plus, maternity, junior, tall

Can you sell your clothes?  Sort of – thredUP functions like a consignment shop, where the company assigns the cost of items that sell and will pay you through cash or credit, or you can donate to charitable partners. Currently only available to residents of the United States.

Thrifted

Thrifted is a London, UK based clothing website that focuses on designer, vintage and retro pieces. They focus on styles from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s as well as sportswear. Items are priced higher than other thrift stores and are often based on brand recognition. You’ll find unique and trendy vintage pieces rather than primarily new fast fashion, as found on many other websites. 

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Mens and Women’s Vintage, Designer, Sportswear
Available In: UK, Europe, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and more
Size Range: XXS – 3XL; some categories only list up to an XL. No other size filters available. 

Can you sell your clothes? No 

Where to shop secondhand fashion online

Depop

Depop is an app based second-hand clothing platform that has the look and functionality of social media apps like Instagram. Searching for specific items is more difficult than other apps, as each seller might list items differently and you may need to message them for more information. You can search by brands and item type, and you’ll see suggested or similar items pop up as well to customize your feed. 

They offer a payment system or allow you to use Paypal, and the seller is responsible for shipping. 

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Womens, Mens, Jewelry, Accessories, Art, Home, Beauty, Kids, and more
Available In: UK, United States, Canada, Europe, International
Size Range: XXS – 4XL; some categories only list up to certain sizes. No other size filters available. 

Can you sell your clothes? Yes. It is free to list items through their app. When it sells, Depop takes 10% of the sale. 

Swap

Swap is a US based online consignment shop that focuses primarily on fast fashion with some designer clothing. Clothing can be filtered by material, colour, brand, condition, and price for easy searching. You are purchasing from the website directly, and will not have contact with the original seller.

Sellers are subject to the consignment fees, but are able to print prepaid labels for easy shipping within the United States.

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Women, Men, Kids & Baby, Shoes
Available In: United States
Size Range: XXS – 4X; plus, short, long, petite, maternity, juniors

Can you sell your clothes? Sort of – Swap functions like a consignment shop, where the company assigns the cost of items that sell and will pay you through cash or credit, or you can donate to charitable partners. Fees depend on the price of the sale, cash or credit methods and processing charges. 

Where to shop secondhand online

Beyond Retro

Beyond Retro is a UK based vintage clothing company that features used and up-cycled garments. While shipping is available worldwide, there are also store fronts available to UK based customers, as well as options to shop online and pick up in store. You’ll find unique and trendy vintage pieces rather than primarily new fast fashion, as found on many other websites. 

The website lists garment measurements, condition and fabrics for each garment, and also provides sorting by era and brand. 

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Women, Men, Sportswear, Accessories, Shoes, Vintage, Designer
Available In: UK, United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, International
Size Range: XS – XL; many sizes are estimated due to the nature of vintage and specific garment measurements are available. 

Can you sell your clothes? No

Netflea

Netflea functions like an online flea market for European customers and sellers. Sellers send items to a warehouse, where they are then sent to the buyer. Buyers can order multiple items from multiple sellers and receive their items in one parcel. Items are listed with size, colour, brand and condition. 

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Womens, Mens, Childrens, Accessories, Shoes, Sport Equipment, Designer
Available In: Europe
Size Range: XXS – 5XL; No other size filters available. 

Can you sell your clothes? Yes, you will send items directly to the warehouse, which will then be sent to the buyer. 

Worn Wear (Patagonia)

Patagonia is well known for crafting products that are aimed to work for life, and their Worn Wear project continues this by reselling used items that no longer serve the purchaser. Although only based in the United States right now, they are looking to expand the resale program. Items found on the Worn Wear website tend to be durable, high quality pieces such as jackets, fleece sweaters and gear, and they choose not to resell t-shirts, swimwear, socks and underwear. 

-The Breakdown-
Great for: Womens, Mens, Kids & Baby, Gear; all items are used Patagonia brand 
Available In: United States
Size Range: XXS – XXL

Can you sell your clothes? Sort of – Only Patagonia products are accepted for resale. The company will inspect each item and assign it a value if it fits their quality standards. You will be paid in credit once your items sell, which can be used on their websites or in their stores (US only). 


For more sustainable brands with secondhand online resale stores check out our guide to circular fashion brands.

Ideas for Kids to Help Others & Care for the Planet from a Young Age

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Want to inspire your little one to be a do-gooder? Here’s how. 

From doing something good for a neighbour to being part of a charitable cause – your kids are not too young to show and share good will. You can teach them to have an altruistic nature from when they’re old enough to walk. This will benefit you, them and the world around them. 

Teaching kids to do things for others just because helps them develop strong core values and create strong bonds and connections with other humans from a young age.

Here are some ideas for kids of different ages:

Ages 2 to 4

  • Encourage them to include other kids who may be playing alone. 
  • Let them help you choose canned goods and other non-perishables from your food cupboard to take to your local food bank.
  • Let them help you sort the recycling.
  • Print ‘thank you’ cards for them to color in and give to people who have helped them in any small way.
  • Teach them to donate to charity with a coin jar for donations and one for treats. Once they’re both full, the money gets donated to charity (or used to buy something for someone in need) and your child gets a treat too. 
  • Let them help you hang bird feeders in the garden.

Ages 5 to 7

  • Have them recognise toys that they no longer play with and ask them to donate it to a community centre or even organize a toy drive. 
  • If your child has long enough hair, consider donating it once they’ve decided they’d like a haircut. 
  • Teach them how to make pet toys for cats and dogs and donate them to animal shelters along with food and any other items they might need. 
  • If you’re having a birthday party or any kind of celebration, ask your child to head up a donation drive amongst your guests for a cause they care about. 
  • Have them set up a lemonade stand or sell homemade cookies (or any other cool thing they can make) to raise money for their charity. Have them create a sign telling people what they’re doing and why too. 
  • Have them help you clear out old books and donate to your local library, or even start a neighbourhood book swap right on your front lawn! Like these Little Libraries. 
  • Color and write ‘get well soon’ cards for older residents at hospitals.
  • Let them participate in fun runs and 5Ks with you for charity.

Ages 8 and Up

  • Organise a beach clean up or local park clean up near you with friends and family.
  • Look for volunteer opportunities on the US National Parks website
  • Teach your child about endangered species and find out which species are endangered in your state. Have your child choose an animal and then draw a card and write a letter together to your local leaders as well as congressional leaders to support conservation policies that protect this species.
  • Ask them to start a school supplies drive with their friends and family for kids in need at their own school and others in different areas. You can visit the Kids in Need Foundation to find out how you both can help. 
  • Get them to donate clothes they no longer wear along with personal care items for a Refugee Hope Box. They can also write a nice letter. Find a free label to ship donations at OperationRefugeeChild.org.
  • Let them offer to help a neighbour with housework or to rake their lawn for nothing in exchange. 
  • Collect and deliver supplies to neighbors who have just had a baby, undergone surgery, or are house bound with an illness.
  • Start a community garden.
  • Organise a neighbourhood garage sale and donate the proceeds to charity.

Do you have any other ideas on how to get kids to volunteer? Tell us!

Where to Recycle Underwear, Bras, Tights, Clothes & More!

What do you do with worn out or unused clothes?

Many of us already know about donating garments that are still in good condition, but what about clothes and accessories that are damaged, unwearable, and unsalable? They’re not just destined for the trash!

Here are programs that actually recycle some of those seemingly “un-useable” items we have in our wardrobes:

Where to recycled underwear, bras, clothing, shoes, tights and more!
Through Knickey’s recycling program you can send in old underwear and get a free pair of their comfy undies!
(please note: some affiliate links may be used in this post)

Recycle Clothing

The best thing is first to look into local textile recycling options. Some cities will have textile collection streams or some thrift stores/charity shops do also partner with textile recyclers for worn out and unsalable pieces, (but be sure to first check that this is the case so the items aren’t just ending up in the trash).

If you can’t find a local program then I:CO partners can also be an option.

Recycle Underwear

This is the most common one I get asked about – what to do with old underwear? You might think they’re garbage, but they can actually be recycled!

Knickey has has a recycling program where they’ll take back their own undies, as well as underwear, bras, and socks from any brands (including men’s & kid’s underwear). They get shredded up and turned into usable products like insulation and industrial textiles. Plus as a thank-you for recycling, they’ll give you a free pair of organic cotton undies!

Unfortunately this service is currently only available in the US but if you know of any programs in other countries please share them in the comments.

Where to recycle bras

Recycle Bras

If you have new or gently worn bras and lingerie you can send them to The Bra Recyclers who collect and distribute them those in need.

If your bras are worn out, then also check out Knickey’s program mentioned above.

Recycle Tights

These are unfortunately something that gets worn through quite fast and are rarely in good condition for secondhand use.

Luckily Swedish Stockings has a recycling program that will accept synthetic pantyhose from any brand. The old tights get turned into industrial molded tanks or they even have a limited collaboration where chic, marble-looking tables are made from old tights! As a thank you, you’ll also get 10% off your next order of sustainable hosiery.

Where to recycle broken tights

Recycle Shoes

First, don’t forget about cobblers and shoe repair! If a heel or sole is worn down, you can often easily get them repaired for longer wear.

If shoes are beyond repair then Terra Cycle offers a shoe collection and recycling box however it is quite expensive (maybe something to try getting your workplace to invest in?). For a free option, many I:CO partners do accept shoes but make sure you double check.

Any brand of athletic sneakers can be dropped of at Nike stores for recycling where they are turned into things like gym floors, carpet underlays, or used in the outsoles of new shoes.

Recycle Purses & Bags

Like with shoes, many parts of purses can be repaired, so look into that first.

For this one I unfortunately couldn’t find any programs that accept worn out purses and bags. Although if they are made from fabric you can sometimes remove any hardware and recycle them through textile recycling channels. For leather/vegan leathers the best options I’ve found so far is upcycling.

Bonus – Recycle Contact Lenses

Not clothing, but I wanted to also share this one because it’s something most people don’t know about – in Canada you can recycle any brand of contact lenses at participating eye care professionals through a partnership with Bausch + Lomb and TerraCycle.

Through the Brand (take back)

Some slow fashion brands also have take-back recycling programs for their own clothes and products, this is good to make note of when purchasing an item and also great to support brands with circularity initiatives!

You can find brands with these types of programs in my circular fashion brand roundup.


If you know of other recycling programs for old clothes and accessories, or ones specific to your country, please share them in the comments!

I’ll continue to update this post as I find more options and also as brands start more recycling programs (an exciting trend I think we’ll see more of!). 🙂

10 Zero Waste & Natural Products for an Eco-Friendly Bathroom

My bathroom has been the most difficult room to transition to sustainable products. So many items that we use every day are either sold in plastic containers or made with harsh chemicals, but your bathroom is not a place to overlook when working to reduce your carbon footprint. In fact, there are some easy switches you can make today to minimize your amount of bathroom waste. Below are some products to help you get started!

(please note: some affiliate links may be used in this post)

Hair

Image from Consciously Curly

Consciously Curly

Consciously Curly has just about every haircare product you could ask for—from washing to styling. Their website is organized by hair type so you can easily find the best products for you whether you have straight, wavy or curly hair. They offer shampoo and conditioner bars as well as aluminum packaging to eliminate the use of plastic.

Price: Cleansing Shampoo Bar, 3.8 oz – $16

Image from Plaine Products

Plaine Products

If you aren’t ready to make the jump to shampoo bars, Plaine Products may be a better option for you. They offer various hair products that come in metal bottles that can be returned and reused. They also have a subscription service that will send you refills automatically.

Price: Shampoo, 16 oz – $30

Image from Leaf Shave

Leaf Shave

Are you looking to replace your plastic razor? Leaf Shave offers a few different razor and shaving kit options depending on your specific needs. They also package and ship 100% plastic-free to aggressively offset the carbon footprint of the company. 

Price: The Leaf Razor – $84


Mouth

Image from Bite

Bite

More than one billion toothpaste tubes are thrown out every year: Bite is trying to change that. These toothpaste “bits” will dissolve into foam while you brush. They also have a subscription service and will send your refill in 100% home compostable pouches. 

Price: Fresh Mint Toothpaste Bits, 62 tablets – $12

Image from Humankind

Humankind

Humankind is another company offering 100% natural toothpaste in tablet form. The product also comes in a cute refillable glass container that is free if you sign up for a subscription.

Price: Toothpaste, 60 tablets – $15

Image from Nelson Naturals

Nelson Naturals Toothpaste

If you’re not into tablets, Nelson Naturals offers a typical toothpaste formula that comes in a small glass bottle making it a zero-waste product. They also offer a wide range of flavors such as Spearmint, Citrus Spice, and Cinnamon to satisfy any taste buds.

Price: Original Toothpaste in Spearmint, 3 oz – $11.33

Image from Dr. H & Co.

Dr. H & Co. 

Many mouthwash brands use chemical and artificial colors which can be harmful if accidentally swallowed. This isn’t the case for Dr. H & Co. products! Their ingredients are sourced by a family-owned company specializing in botanicals, making the product vegan and gluten-free. The product also comes in a glass bottle to reduce the use of plastic. 

Price: Dentist-Formulated Refresh Mouthwash, 16 oz – $32.95


Body

Image from Marley’s Monsters

Marley’s Monsters

You can replace almost anything in your bathroom with Marley’s Monsters sustainable products but my personal favorite has been their washable facial rounds. Each round has a 3-inch diameter and is made of 100% organic cotton flannel, making it perfect for removing makeup.

If you really want to get crazy, the company also offers reusable toilet paper (!) and cloth napkins for your kitchen. 

Price: 20 Facial Rounds – $20

Image from B.A.R.E. Soaps

B.A.R.E soaps

This is a sustainability-first company with so many soap bar options you’re bound to find something that you love. Their soaps are made of all natural ingredients with its base blend being plant-based oils. All of their bars come packaged in plantable paper. The soap product I’ve listed is wrapped with paper  [tested and approved by the USDA] that grows into wildflowers!

Price: Great Thymes soap bar – $9.99

Image from Reel Paper

Reel Paper

Reel is working to eliminate the threat of illness posed by a lack of access to toilets. How are they doing this? Toilet paper made out of bamboo. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world and does not have to be repeatedly planted. Reel is also promoting the use of earth-friendly, sustainable paper products by using no plastic, inks or dyes in their packaging. 

Price: Premium Bamboo Toilet Paper, 24 rolls – $29.99

With a few simple changes to your bathroom routine, you can greatly reduce your amount of waste and be on your way to living a more sustainable lifestyle!

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