Sep 9, 2020
How to Get Started
Shopping Ethically | Business with Purpose Podcast EP 210
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One of the most common questions I get asked on a
regular basis is “How do I get started shopping ethically?” It is
easily the most common question I get asked. Today I wanted to
answer that question. Normally each week I interview someone like
an entrepreneur, CEO, non-profit director, community leader, or
just an incredible person who is trying to make a positive impact,
not only with their personal life, but also with their career. My
goal is to show you that no matter what you do for a living, you
can make an impact wherever you are. But this week is episode 210
which means it’s time for another solo episode, and I have some
questions that many of you submitted that I will be answering
2:52 - Why is it important to shop ethically?
- We’re not just talking about shopping ethically
because it’s cool or trendy, it’s because it really does make a
- Not only are you providing actual wages, skills,
and safe options to real people, you’re telling other companies
that these things matter, that money talks.
4:44 – Do I need to get rid of all my
- No! Don’t feel like you have to get rid of
everything you’ve bought previously that isn’t ethical. If you want
to “Marie Kondo” your stuff, I have talked about ways you can
ethically dispose of the things that may no longer “spark joy” for
5:27 – Which category is “most effective?”
Is there a particular item that has a better or bigger impact than
others? For example, should I start with ethical denim vs. ethical
- There are a few ways to look at this. At the end of
the day, it’s more about intentional, little by little choices and
understanding what your morals or your values add up to. If you’re
somebody who wants to shop ethically and you’re also
environmentally conscious, ethical denim may be a great place for
you to start.
- When I started shopping ethical brands, it was also
important for me to look for companies making a difference in the
area of human trafficking. I started with companies working
directly to combat human trafficking by supporting human
- You have to figure out what is an area that you
really care about, or a topic you want to really tackle.
- Another place to start is taking a look at what
products you already purchase in greater quantities. Start with
that product. If you love shoes, you can start by changing out
which types of shoes you buy and the companies you by shoes from.
It could be beauty, or skincare, or jewelry, not only for the
environment, but for clean ingredients as well.
8:20 – Shopping Ethically on a budget
- I have another podcast episode on this exact topic,
Episode 120, which is all about tips
for shopping ethically on a budget. The short answer is YES! You
can shop ethically on a budget. Shopping second-hand is arguably
the most ethical way to shop and it’s really affordable.
Check out Episode 120 for a more in-depth look at this and 6 tips
for shopping ethically on a budget.
8:59 – How do I know that a brand is really ethical?
How do I know they’re not just “greenwashing?”
- Would you believe I have another episode about
Episode 110 also goes into this topic
of how to tell if a brand is truly ethical.
- When in doubt, always contact the company. Reach
out and ask specific questions like whether or not they have a
3rd party auditor, where they
manufacture, what kinds of auditing they do of their factories,
whether they work with certified organic material, if they monitor
where they source their materials from, how they check their supply
- There are very specific questions you can ask
companies. If they can’t give you a definitive answer, there may be
reasons for a little bit of a red flag.
- There are brands that green wash and lie about
these things, but you can do your due diligence to not shop with
them. We will make mistakes along the way, but this is about
progress, not perfection. Little by little, these choices really do
10:39 – How do I get my family or husband on
- This question came up a lot! My husband and I have
talked about this on the podcast. I have so many conversations with
him about shopping ethically that he understands that I am
passionate about it, though he may not be as passionate about is as
- He also has very different buying habits than I do
and only shops for himself once, maybe twice a year at the most. He
buys something and wears it until it is hanging on by a thread.
That’s an ethical way to shop too.
- There are areas he’s also changing his own buying
habits. He’ll check with me when he needs to purchase something.
Just recently he needed some new gym socks and asked me if I knew
of an ethical company where he could purchase his new gym socks.
Turns out those are now his favorite gym socks and he wants to
order from that company all the time now.
- Having a conversation and communication is key.
Understand that there are times when husbands might just not be on
board and it might take time.
- I also watched the Netflix documentary called “The
True Cost” with my husband, which opened up an opportunity for us
to have a conversation around these topics as well.
- I talk about this stuff with my kids all the time.
My daughter is 7 and my son is 4. My son doesn’t really understand
yet, but my daughter does. Now she’ll ask me if a company is
ethical and she can understand and discuss it with me to an
- There are age appropriate ways to have these
conversations with these kids and explain why we care about the
planet and other people. You can explain that there are children
their age that have to work in factories to make toys and that kids
their age shouldn’t have to do that. It’s a great way to open a
conversation about ways we can advocate for those children.
15:52 - How do have these conversations with my
- Since I don’t have teenagers (yet), I reached out
to a friend of mine who has a teenager who is the type of young
woman I hope my daughter grows up to be like. I asked her mom how
she got Emma on board with this.
- Her teenager’s nature is to want to make sure that
no one is hurt. It steers her away from wanting anything not
ethically made. It’s important for other parents to find out what
their teens care about. Emma cares about dogs and small children,
so it upsets her to hear that children are working instead of going
to school. She hates bullying, so they talk about how trafficking
and the unethical treatment of people is related to bullying.
- It’s about finding what your teen cares about and
help them see how it might relate to unethical practices in
17:25 – Is it ethical to wait to shop an ethical
company only when they run sales?
- There’s likely a variety of opinions on this but in
general I would say no. Brands (especially ethical brands) that run
sales typically do so to clear out previous seasons or older
products to make room for new products.
- The majority of the businesses I know that run
sales run them very intentionally so that there is still a way for
them to pay artisans. When they have excess inventory, they’ve
already paid the artisans in full, but simply need to clear the
shop to make way for new product.
- Sales can also be a gateway for people who want to
shop ethically, but don’t have the opportunity to do so when items
are full price.
19:31 – How long did it take you to transition to
- I started this process back in 2011 and bit by bit,
slowly started to change my buying habits. It’s not something I
overhauled overnight and became an expert in. I’m constantly
learning, changing, and adjusting. It’s become a process.
- You don’t have to change everything or learn
everything overnight. It really can be a little by little
intentional process each day.
20:37 - Do you always shop ethically for
- The answer is, of course not. I’m sure there are
people who do, but to shop ethically 100% of the time would be very
difficult. I’d love to get there one day.
- If I can’t buy it from an ethical company, I’ll try
to buy it second hand. If I can’t buy it from an ethical company or
second hand, I’ll try to find a local small business to buy
- I also try to choose the lesser of the two evils if
I can’t find it ethically, second hand, or from a local small
business. I love Target, and they’ve actually made big strides in
partnering with IJM (International Justice
Mission) to help illuminate labor traffic and have
started supplying from ethical brands like their fair trade denim line.
- Sometimes there may not be an ethical option. My
daughter is obsessed with Barbie this year. I was able to find some
items second hand. I felt OK knowing that whatever Barbie brand
items we buy for her will be well-loved and used for years and
years to come until we pass it along to another family to use.
- My goal is not to judge other peoples choices, but
decide which ones are the right fit for me and for my family and
share the information so that others can make the right choices for
22:47 – Additional Resources
- You can follow my journal toward ethical shopping
on my blog and social media:
- You can find me on all social media networks:
@stillbeingmolly and @businesswithpurposepodcast
- You can find more episodes on these topics at my
stillbeingmolly.com as well as my
Ethical Brand Directory.
- You can also join my Purpose with Purpose Facebook Group to continue learning more
about shopping more ethically and intentionally.
3:44 - “When you buy from a company like a fair-trade
company or a small business, you really are making an actual
difference…one small purchase might be worth 10 hours of dignified
7:10 - “I think that for you, you have to figure out
what is an area that you really care about? What is a topic that
you really want to tackle?”
10:28 – “Will we make mistakes? Yes. But this is
about grace, not perfection. Progress not perfection. Little by
little, these choices really do add up.”
18:31 - “The majority of the businesses that I know
that run sales, run them very intentionally and so it really is an
opportunity for them to pay their artisans…at the end of the day,
the artisan is still getting paid their full wage…”
Thank you to our partners of the show:
Did you know I have an ethical brand directory?
That's what Chelsea used to start finding products for her boutique
almost four years ago! Now, Amma's Umma carries over 50
intentionally sourced brands and is the perfect one stop shop for
all your gift giving needs. As a thank you to the Still Being Molly
community, she is offering 20% off with code SHOPWITHMOLLY. Head to
shopwithmolly.com for all the details.
At GOEX, we believe in the power of purchase. We use
a simple t-shirt to connect our customers with their apparel
makers. GOEX customers sustain fair wage jobs that liberate workers
from poverty and empower them in their families and communities. We
are proud to be a verified member of the Fair Trade Federation.
Shop sustainable, eco-friendly t-shirts and sweatshirts with
purpose today at goexapparel.com.
I want to introduce you all to a company I believe in
that helps you more conveniently purchase with purpose, SimpleSwitch.org
Simple Switch is an online marketplace for ethical
and impactful shopping. They let you shop online for more than
3,000 products ranging from everyday essentials like toilet paper
and hand sanitizer, to special gifts like journals or jewelry.
Every product has a positive environmental or social impact, like
planting trees or fighting human trafficking.
Simple Switch is offering a discount exclusively for
our listeners. Check out the marketplace on simpleswitch.org and get 20% off your first order
with code PURCHASEWITHPURPOSE at checkout!
After 2 years of global impact, Simple Switch is
raising money to grow the company and make ethical shopping our new
normal. You can learn more about that campaign at IGG.me/simple-switch
The Lemonade Boutique
This episode is sponsored by The Lemonade Boutique, a
women’s clothing with a cause store. Featuring ethically made and
fair trade items from over 10 countries, every item is made by
women facing extreme challenges such as trafficking, poverty, and
more. Your purchase empowers women to take life's lemons and make
lemonade. Shop at THELemonadeBoutique.com. Listeners of the Business
with Purpose Podcast can save 15% by using code PURPOSE15 at