Ethical Shopping on a Budget

4 tips to help make sustainable shopping affordable.


When I tell people that I write about ethical shopping, the number one question that I’m asked is “But how do you afford it?”

I get it. Ethical shopping has a reputation of being pricey, and before I committed to it, most of my clothes were coming from the clearance racks at Target. Everything sounds pricey compared to that.

If you’ve been tracking with DoneGood for long, you know that we love to talk about ethical brands that sell everyday goods at everyday prices. There are plenty of affordable ethical brands out there, but by the very definition of ethically produced goods, sometimes they are still going to cost a little more than their not-so-ethically-produced counterparts.

And that’s a good thing. 

While other brands are giving their business to the lowest bidder, using the cheapest labor, and the easiest form of manufacturing, ethical brands ensure that they are using quality materials, paying a living wage to their employees, and utilizing conscientious manufacturing practices. 

These kinds of practices make it worth spending a few extra bucks, but, of course,  our resources aren’t unlimited and having a price range for our purchases is just a reality. But even for the extremely budget-conscious consumer like myself, affordable, ethical shopping is possible. Here are a few ways to do it.

Examine Your Purchases

I don’t think it’s any secret that manufacturers and advertisers have convinced us that we need more than we actually do. And to help us acquire that arbitrary number of things, they produce more and more products that are cheaper and cheaper, and lower and lower quality. So we keep buying more than we need, those things keep wearing out, we buy more, and the cycle continues. 

When I examine my purchasing habits, I usually find that I’m buying a lot of things that I don’t really need—and only kind of like—but were “such a great deal.” Cutting out that needless spending frees up money to buy things that I actually want, need, and like (or love!). And speaking of which...

Buy Quality Products that you Love 

The flip side of cutting out extra purchases that you don’t need is that you’re saving up money to buy quality goods that you love. Ethical goods are generally going to be better quality than their counterparts because they’re made using superior products and methods, by artisans and skilled workers. 

When you buy high-quality stuff, you’re usually going to like it more, you’re not going to need as much (no need to have a closet full of meh when you’ve got a few items that you absolutely love), and it will almost definitely last longer and save you money in the long run. So sometimes buying the cheapest product is NOT the best deal anyway: if you buy something for $20 that wears out so you buy one every year, vs. buying something for $60 that lasts five or ten years…


Follow DoneGood on Social Media & Email 

Our brands have killer sales all the time. We’re always on the lookout to help you keep up with them! Recently we highlighted sales from Elegantees about their discounted “tee of the month,” Symbology is often announcing flash sales, and we just saw MPOWERD is having a BOGO sale right now!


Don’t Forget about Promo Codes

Many of our brands offer exclusive promo codes to DoneGood users! We’re talking sitewide discounts of 20% - 25% off your entire purchase and other discounts like that!

Don’t forget that if you’re still unable to find an ethical version of what you need, or at a price that’s remotely in your budget, secondhand shopping is always a great ethical and budget-friendly option. Buying secondhand instead of new takes demand out of the market for more cheaply and unethically made goods.

Follow the steps above, and I think you’ll be well on your way to ethical shopping habits that are affordable for you and great for people and the planet. 


Erin King
DoneGood Contributor

Writer, editor, and all-around language enthusiast who uses her love of words to help others.


Erin King