Trying to be an ethical consumer of fashion is difficult in this age of fast fashion and throwaway culture. While it can seem impossible to swim against the tide, there are some small changes you can make to your shopping habits to make you a more responsible consumer. Here are three of the most important ones:

1. Shop second-hand
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Shopping second hand is one of the most effective ways to be a responsible shopper. Charity shops and thrift shops provide another life for previously loved clothing that may have fallen out of favour with the original owner but still have plenty of wear left in them. Even better, everything is super cheap and if you know where to look you can find some truly unique items of vintage clothing. Not only are you grabbing a bargain but you're also helping to keep clothing out of the landfill. The Good Shopping Guide can help you learn more about how great buying secondhand can be.

2. Compare brands and their manufacturing processes
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Being an ethical company is very fashionable these days, but some brands and businesses may obscure their bad practices and inflate their good ones. By doing your research before you shop, you can make an informed decision about the best place to buy your new groovy garments from. Some brands are known for having a poor ethos - producing low-quality clothes, paying their factory workers low wages, shipping their clothes across the world producing high emissions, and all this just for their products to quickly fall apart due to their poor quality (meaning you have to go back and buy more, of course).

Some brands also spend a lot of money to hide their unethical practices; keeping employees quiet so that clothes continue to fly off the rails. Most of the information you need to make an informed decision about where you buy your clothes are available online - this thorough guide for beginners, for example, is a good place to start. While it can be hard to make changes to your usual routine initially, after a while making sure the stores you buy from are ethical and responsible becomes a habit and a great habit on that.

3. Shop on the high street
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Much of our fast, unsustainable fashion is purchased online. Make a move back to your local high street - you can feel and try on items so you are certain about their quality, and you can easily return anything you decide you don't like. There are some greatly responsible chains on your local high street, such as Debenhams. One of the leaders in responsible shopping not only are they body positive (models include rehabilitated troops, plus sizes, women up to the age of 70 and a Paralympic athlete), they also have a no-fur policy and diverted 97% of their waste away from landfill in 2018. In addition to this, they have a huge £1 million annual fundraising target for charities.

While it can sometimes seem like an impossible task, the world doesn't need a few perfectly ethical and responsible consumers; it needs lots of people doing it imperfectly. Even making small changes can have a big impact; so before ordering more low quality and cheap items online, consider whether your local high street or charity shop may offer what you're looking for, and compare the manufacturers and brands to ensure you are selecting the most ethical option available.