Shoes are incredibly difficult for me to find. First, my feet are larger than average, 10.5 to be exact, a size that most American brands don’t even make, meaning thrifting is pretty much out of the question. I’ve gotten lucky a couple times, but it’s rare. So that leaves buying new. But of course there is still the problem of fit, plus comfort, ascetically pleasing AND ethically made. I’ve never been able to find my perfect shoe, until the CANO shoe.
The company created an app that lets you see the actual people who made your specific shoe. The sole of the right shoe comes with a NFC-tag that stores all the supply chain data of your CANO shoes. Just scan your right shoe and you can see the the entire supply chain, from the leather suppliers to the artisans weavers. It’s the most transparent supply chain I’ve ever seen and it truly raises the bar for ethical fashion.
CANO makes several different styles, my personal favorite is the Huaraches — they’re breathable enough for summer and versatile enough to dress up or down. They also make some beautiful slip on sandals and mules, plus are coming out with boots later in the year.
I’ve worn my CANOs to work several times, but wanted to wear them to the park where I often take my toddler to see how they would hold up to some play. I was worried that I might get blisters, but no! These shoes actually get more comfortable every time I wear them. The weaved leather molds to your feet. TIP: If you’re in between sizes like me, size down because the shoes will stretch.
After the park, my shoes were a little dirty so I simply wiped them with a damp cloth and good as new. The site also has a whole section on how to properly care for your Huaraches, which I really appreciate since I plan on wearing these shoes for years and years.
CANO is a new and small company, so if you’re looking for some new shoes please go check them out. I have so much respect for their vision to reconnect consumers with artisans.
P.S. Make sure to sign up for their mailing list to get 10% off your first pair of CANO shoes.
First things first, what exactly is ThredUp? ThredUp is marketed as the world’s largest online secondhand and consignment store. Thousands of new pieces are added to the site everyday, which on one hand is amazing, but on the other hand is super overwhelming. It is possible to score some amazing deals on ThredUp, but it’s equally as possible to spend hours aimlessly searching. I’ve been there, which is why I want to offer some simple time-saving tips and advice on how to shop ThredUp efficiently.
Note: there is no vintage on ThredUp–they only sell modern brands in good condition. I’m currently writing a blog about the best places to shop vintage online, so make sure you sign up for my newsletter so you know when that piece is live! Ok, back to ThredUp tips.
ThredUp Tip # 1 // Sign up for an Account
The very first thing you should do is create an account. This is helpful for several reasons. Number one, when you have an account you can save your personal sizes and that filter will stay on every time you do a search. Without an account, you have to manually re-do your size filters with every search, which is such a pain and waste of time.
An account also allows you save your favorite pieces. If you see something you remotely like, hit that heart button. This allows you to come back to it later. Also, if the piece you liked sold you can then shop similar styles which is a really nice feature.
Also when you sign up you usually get a discount code for your first order. Alternatively you can take $10 off your first order with this code:
ThredUp Tip #2 // Create My Sizes
Above I mentioned creating your personal sizes. This is very simple to do but sooo crucial. Don’t waste your time searching for anything before your sizes are set. To do this choose any category in the top navigation, for example “Women” and then “Clothing.” Scroll down and on the left sidebar you should see “Sizes.” Choose your sizes . I would suggest being very picky if you can. If you sometimes wear a small but mostly wear a medium, just click medium. Next, at the top of the my sizes page, there is a little box that says “Always set filter to My Sizes”. Make sure to click this so every search automatically filters with your sizes.
ThredUp Tip # 3 // Filter, Filter, Filter
Now my size filter is on yet I’m still seeing 50,000+ results in women’s clothing. Next, I’m going to filter. Let’s say I really need a new dress. Go to the side navigation and hit dresses and then keep scrolling down and fill out as many filters as you can. For example, the first filter is “Occassion”. I’m going to choose “Cocktail & Party”. I’m now down to 7,000 options. Still too many, but better than 50,000.
The next filter I really like is the “More Ways to Shop”. I always check the “My Home Warehouse” option. This shows you the clothes that are in the warehouse closest to you. Your item comes faster and you sometimes can save on shipping. This filter is sticky, just like your sizes, meaning it will stay on until you de-select it. After selecting that filter my options went down from 7,0000 to just under 1,000.
The next filter I always set is the price. Decide what you’re willing to pay for a dress and then set this filter. I’m going to set it at $30 max. Make sure to press the blue “Set” button after you decide your price. My options are now 572. That’s still personally overwhelming to me, so I’m just going to continue to filter. I can filter by style, skirt length, brand, color, neckline, condition, material, pattern and accents.
If you know exactly what you want, filter away! I usually don’t, but I do know I want my dress to be knee length so I check that filter and now I have 106 items, a totally reasonable number! And if I actually did need to buy a cocktail dress I would buy this 100% silk J. Crew dress for $30.
Note:If you want to search all clothes by a specific brand or fabric, do it in the sidebar! If you type in the search field at top, lots of random things will pop-up. So with every search, I stick to the sidebar filters.
# 4 // Search Premium & Designer
Another way to shop is to search the “Premium” or “Designer” sections. I like this option because it naturally filters out all the brands that probably aren’t that well-made to begin with and it introduces me to new brands I might not know about. Starting with “My Size” and “My Home Warehouse” filters on, I still have about 8,000 results. So I start the filter process all over. Because you’re starting with less options, you probably won’t have to be as specific with your filters.
Another way I like to search premium and designer is to turn off the “My Home Warehouse” filter off and then click the “Under $25” price filter. Doing this has given me some greats steals in the past, for example one of the first things that pops-up are these linen Neiman Marcus pants for $25.
ThredUp Tip #5 // Heart Away
I mentioned this at the very beginning, but it’s a really simple tip that will save you loads of time. Heart everything that catches your eye. I don’t even click the piece to read the product description. I just heart and then keep scrolling. Then at the very end I go to my saved hearts and review everything. It’s like when you’re thrifting, you just throw everything in your cart and then sort at the end. It takes less time that way and it’s easier to make a decision when you see all your potential pieces collected together.
Also, say you like the idea of the item, but don’t love that particular piece you favorited, scroll to the bottom of the description page and you’ll see a “You May Also Like” section that shows you similar pieces all in your size.
Ok, that’s it! I hope these tips will help you shop ThredUp like pro. Like any secondhand shopping, it still takes some patience and luck, but I’ve been able to find some amazing staples for my wardrobe using these guidelines!
Do you like shopping ThredUp? Or what’s your favorite online secondhand store?
Meet Kate Hall, the vibrant woman behind Ethically Kate. Over the last couple years, as I’ve dived into ethical fashion and living, I’ve started following a lot of ethical influencers and Kate is hands-down one of my favorites. In a social media world that is often defined by unrealistic standards, Kate keeps it real. She’s always striving to live a more conscious and eco-friendly lifestyle while inspiring others, but she’s never judgmental or preachy. Plus her New Zealand accent is simply irresistible. Below she’s sharing more about her personal journey and offering some no bullshit advice for anyone on this ethical lifestyle journey.
Hi Kate! Let’s start with your background. Can you share a little about your home?
I live just north of Auckland on a little peninsular called The Hibiscus Coast. I’ve lived here my whole life, with a few stints during my childhood (e.g. 2 years in England as a baby, and 2 years in Mongolia as a 10 year old). Up here, it’s like our own little paradise. You are never more than walking distance from the beach, and in the summer it’s alive with happy vibes, as it’s a popular holiday destination. My favourite part is that I don’t have to wear shoes most places, and I can hear the waves from my bed if the wind is blowing in the right direction.
How did you first become interested in ethical living?
I think I’ve been raised in it, without knowing it until recently. My parents have always been very mindful of the environment and our global community. We are all super thrifty so I was always taught to mend things, respect our belongings, and give back more than you take. We’ve always composted and tried to reduce our waste.
It was about 3 years ago though that I watched The True Cost documentary and it made me boil inside. I’ve always adored fashion (when I was younger I’d change my outfit like 10 times a day and do fashion shows) and when I became aware of the issues, I decided I’d commit to it 100%. From fashion, it grew into being conscious of every part of my consumption, and it’s still snowballing!
How did your interest in ethical fashion and living manifest itself into Ethically Kate?
It was never intentional, it just began as I started to be vocal. I would email brands and ask them the hard questions and connect with awesome brands to thank them for their work. I’ve always been a good writer, and brands picked up on that, so they started to formally ask me for reviews, and guest blog posts, and then to officially collaborate.
People also know I love to chat, so they would email or message me for advice. Then I realized people wanted more. So basically I just said yes to a whole lot of things I LOVE. I’m also not afraid of being on camera, or public speaking, so I like to use these skills to spread knowledge that I think is so important for everyone to hear.
Ethical living is such a broad term, and it can mean different things to different people, so what does it mean to you?
To me, ethical living kind of describes an awakening. It means being conscious to your entire impact as a human being, on the planet and on other human beings.
Ethical living is literally opening your eyes and getting in touch with what it means to be existing on this earth, and how to exist in the best way possible.
Ethical living is also doing the best with what you have as well. For example, how could you be vegan in a country where vegetables don’t grow well in the soil? I witnessed this firsthand in Mongolia.
I love that phrase “doing the best with what you have” because I think it’s so easy to start experiencing guilt when you feel like you didn’t make the “right” choice. Do you ever feel like that?
Every day. Particularly now that I am publicly known and people watch my daily life on IG and recognize me in public, I always feel like I have to do more, and be careful about every action and aware if I’m doing things ‘right’. But screw that, to be honest.
Eco-fatigue sucks, and there’s no place for it. It’s not beneficial for ANYONE.
The fact is we still live in society, around plastic and mainstream fashion, and we can’t do it all. It’s not realistic. And that’s fine. If you’re even considering this question or feeling guilty, you’re already ahead of the game!! Being aware is awesome, and you are your own person, on your own journey.
Can you offer some practice advice for those who are just starting this more conscious way of living?
Think before any monetary purchase is made. Even if it’s just grabbing chewing up when you top up with petrol. Think about that whole purchase. Don’t take anything for granted. Ask questions to everyone, no matter how ‘high up’ they are or if you think it’s a stupid question: ask it. Don’t jump into it 100% in one day. Take little steps, make them become your everyday habits. It’s not sustainable to change all at once–please don’t go plastic free overnight. It won’t work. Do things gradually. Talk about it with others, they may be on the same journey as you.
Last spring you did a month-long minimalist challenge, where you gave away a corresponding number of things for every day of the month, (e.g. 1 thing on April 1, 20 things on April 20th). Can you talk about that experience?
So the main part of my week is writing content for other brands and I was asked to write one about minimalism. I got really into the topic, read the book Stuffocation, and did a lot more research around it than I usually would for a wee blog post. I even read the article to my husband, Tim. One day, he said “grab your phone, get out your Instagram stories, and film me”. He then said “Kate, I challenge you to the minimalist challenge”. He wanted to know if I could talk the talk, could I walk the walk?
We both did the challenge and started documenting it on Instagram, and everyone got REALLY into it. I never thought it would become such a big thing! There are probably around 50 people who have even done it themselves because they heard us doing it. Then the media picked it up, and it went big!
It was probably the best thing I’ve done for my life habits. Now, we think even harder about each purchase, and nothing comes into the house unless we’ve dwelled over it. I feel so FREE and uncluttered! It helps your mental state, and reduces franticness. Plus I now so adore our home, wardrobe, and space so much more: because it’s all our favourite things.
Another challenge that was so inspiring to me was the Ration Challenge where you eat for a week like a Syrian refugee to raise awareness and funds for the ongoing refugee crisis. Can you talk about that experience as well?
I took on the challenge because my flatmate works for the organization who was running it and wanted a buddy. I thought it could be fun to do together and I love a good challenge! I didn’t realize how mind opening it would be. There were lots of tears, and I won’t ever look at food the same way. Knowing I could eat food after the week was over, but thousands couldn’t, killed me on the inside. It made me appreciate my life SO much, and appreciate flavours, variety, and having utensils and things to cook on–the little things we just always expect will be there. It was also amazing to raise over 1K to support Syrian refugees. Such a cool team effort!
Whether your doing a challenge, of sharing about a product, or cleaning up trash on the beach, your positivity is so apparent. How do you keep that attitude, especially when you see the state of the world and encounter people’s apathy?
Let’s get super real right now: I’m sick of seeing all the martyrs who sacrifice things to be activists, and only share about the shit that is happening. There’s definitely a time and place for this and I completely respect it, but it often makes the everyday person turn away from the issues. Why would you want to listen to a message if the underlying theme was “you’re the issue”?
There are some awesome things happening in the world too, and perhaps highlighting and motivating those awesome things will help the darkness of the world phase out.
As cheesy as it sounds, life is literally too short to be all gloom and doom about everything. PLUS, I’m generally just a cup half full kinda person.
Lastly, why do you think these topics are so important?
Our world is too beautiful to waste, and we’re running out of time. Our habits have become too much for the environment to handle and bounce back. The human race has created the mess, and we need to get out of it. Existing is awesome, I love being alive (and I want my children’s children to love that too), but it will mean nothing if we don’t step up to the plate.
Make sure to follow along with Kate on IG @ethicallykate. And check out her blog, Ethically Kate, for thought-provoking articles (plus some amazing discount codes for some her favorite ethical brands). Thanks again for sharing Kate!
You’ve read about the detriments fast fashion is having on our planet. You care about the people, including children, working in unsafe factories for little and often no pay. You want to shop better, but feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. That was me too, and years into this ethical fashion journey, I still often feel overwhelmed. But, I also know this issue is too important to simply stop caring. So I want share a simple resource that has helped me on this ever-evolving desire to support sustainable fashion.
When I first started researching fair fashion, I saw an ethical fashion pyramid that really helped me understand the hierarchy of sustainable fashion. I couldn’t find the original one, so I decided to recreate my own.
I think a huge barrier to shopping ethically is finances, and while I do not deny that this barrier exists, it absolutely does, I’ve personally found that supporting ethical fashion is more a matter of changing my mindset than changing my closet. That’s why the bottom of the pyramid is wear what you own.
1 // WEAR WHAT YOU OWN
Maybe, like me, when you learned about the horrors of fast fashion, your first feeling was guilt. I looked at the tags of my clothes and discovered that most were made in Bangladesh and other countries with extremely high risks of worker exploitation. I wanted to replace all these clothes with better clothes. However, I definitely couldn’t afford that. And if you can’t afford it, it’s not sustainable.
Turns out the most sustainable and ethical option was to wear what I already owned. The truth is that I didn’t really need new new clothes. And when I started viewing clothes more as a need, and less as a want, this simple change of mindset revolutionized my thoughts on fashion.
Having said that, I enjoy fashion and have since I was a little girl. There is nothing wrong with liking fashion or wanting to dress fashionably. The problem is when our wants interfere with other’s basic human rights, like what is happening in fast fashion. Fast fashion bets on people viewing clothing as seasonal and disposable, instead of investment pieces.
2 // MEND AND ALTER
In addition to wearing what you already own, it’s equally important to care what you already own. Before practicing ethical fashion, when my clothes became worn, I simply donated or tossed them. Mending clothes didn’t really cross my mind, probably because the cost of clothing was so little. However, mending is such a simple way to lengthen the life of your clothes and keep them out of landfills. Patch holes in jeans, sew buttons back on and treat stains.
Altering your clothes is another great and often forgotten option. If you’ve gained or lost a few pounds, it’s easy to assume you need a new wardrobe, however most clothes can easily be altered up or down a couple sizes. Find someone who does alterations and help support local jobs while also giving clothes new life.
3 // BORROW AND SWAP
This point is often left out in ethical fashion posts, but borrowing and swapping clothes is an easy and affordable way to practice fair fashion. Unless you plan on wearing something 30 plus times, try borrowing from a friend. Clothing swaps are another great sustainable option. Organize a clothing swap with a few friends and come home with some new clothes.
4 // BUY QUALITY SECONDHAND
Before buying new, ask yourself, can I buy a quality version secondhand? The word quality is really important to me because the world of secondhand and thrift shopping can so easily become another version of fast fashion. No, you’re not buying new, but buying from a thrift store, only to re-donate a few weeks later is continuing the cycle of waste since the majority of clothes we donate are not resold.
However, I do really love thrift store shopping and the majority of my clothes are secondhand. When shopping secondhand, I always try to ask myself the same questions as when I’m buying new:
Will this last? Will I wear it 30 plus times? If the fit is not perfect, can I have it altered? Are the fabric and seams quality?
Also, check out this post if you want some more simple tips for thrifting.
5 // SUPPORT ETHICAL BRANDS
Finally, when you’re ready to buy something new, support ethical brands. Your dollar does have power. Shopping ethically is going to cost more, a lot more, however if you’ve followed the pyramid, you probably won’t be buying that many new pieces. And while this hierarchy is a pyramid, it’s also cyclical. Once you’ve bought that new piece, wear it often, take good careof it, mend it and then properly donate itwhen you’re finished.
Hopefully this pyramid will help you on your ethical fashion journey. Do you have any more tips for practicing sustainable fashion?
It’s summer and I’m daydreaming about the beach, so I put together a little ethical shopping guide for those upcoming beach days. Growing up my landlocked self always daydreamed about vacationing at the sea. Now I live close to the ocean and can technically visit the beach year round, but it’s in the summer that the pull of the waves is the strongest. There’s just something extra magical about the shore in the summertime don’t you think?
We recently took Lewie to the beach and spent the whole afternoon building a massive sandcastle then eating fresh fish for dinner. It was such a classic summer day. Growing up near the ocean is truly a luxury and I want to take Lewie more often. So below are some ethical beach essentials I’m grabbing next time!
Sand Bucket // You simply can’t have a child and go to the beach without a bucket. It can seriously provide hours of entertainment. This indestructible sand bucket is perfect for tiny hands, will last for years to come and is made in Germany.
Kite // One of Lewie’s favorite books right now is this Weather First Discovery Book. For the summer page he loves talking about the kites on the beach. Now a good kite is one my summer list. This one is made in the USA!
Turkish Towel // Turkish towels are simply the best and unlike regular towels they get softer with time. These are perfect to use as blanket, a quick-absorbing towel, or a light throw when it gets chilly. I especially love this fun rainbow one which is fair-trade certified and made by artisans in Ethiopia.
Tote // I have a couple beach totes that I love, both bought second-hand. Shopping second is great way to shop ethically on a budget. Try searching your local thrift store first or Etsy. I adore handwoven totes because they’re lovely enough to use everyday as a market or diaper bag.
TIP: Etsy can be pretty overwhelming, so see what’s near you first. Just enter you location in the left sidebar. Often the seller will let you coordinate a pick-up to save on shipping.
Birthdays. Baby showers. Holidays. No matter what time of year, there’s always an event that require a kid’s gift. But the next time you need a kid’s gift, try thinking outside the box with your gift giving and gift wrapping. These simple and sustainable kid’s gifts are just are fun, thoughtful and guaranteed to please parents too.
// Forget the Toy //
Instead of buying a toy, gift an experience. Experiences are by far my favorite gift to give and receive. Do some research and find out what’s close to you. Kid’s museums are a great bet or annual passes to a local garden are perfect for the whole family. If you have a local theater, giving tickets to see a show would be super sweet and you can’t lose with movie vouchers for a fun family outing. My absolute favorite birthday gift for Lewie was tickets to Disneyland.
// Make or Bake //
If you can sew, make your own sustainable kid’s gift. There are so many cute ideas that can be made out upcycled fabric. If you can’t sew, or simply don’t have the patience for that (like me), there are still options, like this adorable lego set made with a thrifted lunch tin or naturally-dyed play dough. Think about the child’s favorite activities and get creative.
Or you can always bake something. Chances are someone was going to make cake for that birthday party so it might as well be you. Coordinate with the host and bring something delicious. This is great option especially if the invite says no gifts, but you still want to do something nice.
If the above options are not your thing, no worries, go ahead and buy the kid a toy. Kids love toys and there is no guilt in buying a gift. But there a couple simple ways to make buying a toy a more sustainable and eco-friendly affair.
// Shop Secondhand //
Here’s the thing, kids, especially younger kids, do not care if their toy is new. Lewie reacts the same if he sees a train in a thrift store or in target. Buying secondhand is great if you’re on a strict budget, because you’re going to get more for your money. Try thrift stores, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. One of my absolute favorite baby gifts was a friend’s selection of her own kids favorite baby books handed down to me.
// Support Small Business //
If you do want to buy new, search your local kids store first and try to buy something that will last a long time. If you don’t have a local kid’s store, here some of my favorite online kid’s stores for unique gifts:
Shop Merci Milo// If you live in LA, this adorable store has a brick-and-mortar in Eagle Rock.
Bella Luna Toys // I adore their arts and crafts section, perfect for inspiring creativity in elementary aged kids.
The Little Market// For babies, The Little Market has the sweetest selection of fair-trade animals and rattles.
Etsy // Etsy has a huge selection of beautiful handcrafted toys. You can also shop based on a custom location. I love putting in my state to see what’s made close to me.
TIP: Most online shops will have a notes for seller section. I always ask (nicely) to please use as little plastic and packaging as possible. And speaking of packaging…
// Pick Frustration Free Packaging //
And if you’re running late and need to use trusty Amazon Prime (we’ve all been there) search toys with Frustration Free Packaging. Frustration Free Packaging just means way less packaging is used and what is used is recyclable. Just a quick search gave me lots of great toy options. A few favorites:
Green Toys Dump Truck// Green Toys are a favorite in our house. They’re durable, great for indoor, outdoor and water play, plus made with 100% recycled plastic. Below Lewie is playing with his Green Toys Firetruck.
Plan Toys Tea Set// A tea set is a childhood staple. I love how sturdy and unisex this one is!
Wooden Croquet Set// I grew up playing croquet ever summer so this toy is super nostalgic for me.
Bead Coaster // I’ve never met a toddler who doesn’t love these things. It’s one of the very few toys Lewie will play with basically everyday for whole minutes at a time.
// Forgo the Wrapping //
And lastly, find a creative way to wrap your gift. For baby showers, I love wrapping my gifts in swaddles or baby blankets. Or just sort through the recycling to find something to wrap your gift in. Chances are you’ll find a box or paper that will work. And if you have kids of your own, let them help decorate. Or stick the gift in a reusable bag. And if all else fails, just forget the wrapping all together and gift it with a smile. In the end, the kid won’t care.
What about you? What are some of your favorite tips to making gift-giving more sustainable?