Budget-Friendly Tips for the Conscious Consumer

Everyone who's familiar with the fair fashion world knows that the prices might be higher than with fast fashion.

You’ve decluttered your wardrobe and committed to having a capsule wardrobe for the season but all the sustainable fashion pieces you’re eyeing are so expensive! Now what? Don’t worry, there’s no reason to run back to your old fast fashion shops.

As an individual who is pursuing this minimalist and sustainable lifestyle, clothing is a huge part of my journey and I totally understand that a lot of people struggle with sustainable fair fashion because the price tags are just way too high.

I think a big part of being a conscious consumer is generally to consume less. Purchasing a “haul” from your favourite fast fashion stores every season will typically cost you more than if you intentionally chose pieces that you truly needed or wanted to add to your wardrobe.

Here’s a few ways I’ve learned to shop consciously with my budget in mind.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

The first thing that comes to mind when it comes to sustainable shopping is to shop second hand. When you shop secondhand, you don’t create anything new, which is great for the earth!

Of course, there are the classics for secondhand shopping like Value Village, Goodwill, vintage shops, and consignment stores.

However, in this digital age, secondhand shopping is also so accessible to us through our phones or computers through buy and sell apps or websites. I’m sure many of you have heard of websites like Depop, ThredUp, and Poshmark.

Another way to shop secondhand online is through Facebook buy and sell groups, or if you’re in Toronto, Bunz is a great alternative here. Bunz is a platform that allows people to barter and trade what they have for things that they want or need. It’s an amazing platform and really helps to encourage sustainability and community. I even have a couple of pieces in my own wardrobe that were Bunz’d.

Maybe secondhand shopping isn’t your thing, try shopping in your own wardrobe!


I may be a bit biased as I’m a huge advocate for capsule wardrobes, but I truly believe it’s a very budget-friendly option because you only shop for what you need in a particular season.

I thought it might take the fun out of shopping for me, but it actually allowed me to more carefully curate my style and figure out whether or not I really needed something. The process in itself is very intentional and thought out.

I also like the one in, one out rule that many people use when curating their capsule wardrobes. You take a piece out of your wardrobe by swapping, selling, or donating, and then you can bring a new piece in to fill that spot. It’s a good rule to keep in mind when being intentional with your closet.

Capsules help you narrow down what pieces in your wardrobe actually get worn and encourage you to wear what you have. If you love and wear what you have, you won’t be itching to shop.

In this photo, I “thrifted” the turtleneck from my mom’s closet!


Clothing swaps are such a fun way to get all your friends together and promote sustainability amongst your immediate community of friends and family. Having an event like this is almost like opening up your very own little thrift store.

Who says swapping needs to be forever? Swapping clothes with friends and family is a great way to try out a piece to see if you really like it as much as you think.

It’s also a fun way to bring a bit of a mix into your wardrobe and maybe even try out a piece you would never have purchased for yourself.

The good thing about swapping with those close to you is that you can always swap back.

Trading is especially helpful when it comes to occasion-wear. This past summer was filled with bridal showers and weddings so an economical way to have a different outfit is to swap! My sister and I traded jumpsuits for a week and were able to wear each other’s pieces to our own respective events.

Quality Over Quantity

Finally, to have a sustainable wardrobe may not always mean you purchase from the sustainable brand.

I often like to emphasize that we’re all at a different place on this journey to minimalism and sustainability and sometimes it may be more economical to shop for in the stores you see at the mall. We might not all be able to afford the ethical, sustainably made garments we see promoted online.

One of the ways I started out whenever I did shop, was to shop for quality pieces. That could mean a variety of things.

To begin, take a look at the fabric and material. Try to shop for garments made with sustainable materials like organic cotton.

You can often tell quickly whether or not a piece is high-quality by examining the seams and details of the garment.

Maybe you’ve just discovered this whole movement of sustainable living or you’ve been at it for a while.

Wherever you are, it doesn’t take much out of your pocket to take some small steps to building a sustainable wardrobe.

Now that you’ve read about a few of my favourite budget-friendly tips for a sustainable wardrobe, which one would you love to try out first?

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