Ethical & Sustainable Brands on the High Street

22 Oct 2019

The conversation around sustainability in the fashion world is ongoing. It's something that I've touched on in the past but it's quite a mammoth of a topic to try and breakdown into its elements and discussing it in a way that won't annoy at least one person. The conversation around sustainable and ethical fashion and beauty has many layers and is ever-changing which is great, we should be constantly trying to find the best way to be sustainable but it's important to remember that changes that we may need or want to make, aren't always accessible to everyone. For example, cutting down on fast fashion is amazing to help cut down waste but slow fashion brands tend to be more expensive and less accessible for all. But, there are more high street brands making some changes to make more sustainable fashion choices that bit more accessible.

Today, I wanted to celebrate the brands that are doing this and that is really helping spread the message and awareness of the impact of unsustainable material sourcing and the truth about cruelty to animals in the fashion and beauty industries. I was tempted to write a post about brands to avoid but, why give them that promotion anyway? Instead, lets shed some positivity on the brands that are doing the right thing. While it's good to call out those brands not doing enough, it's important to highlight those that are helping and showing the other brands how it should be done! 

Ethical Beauty 

While animal-testing in the beauty industry has been outlawed by most countries around the world some (I'm looking at your China) still require it by law that they test beauty products on animals before entering their countries' market. Some companies still sell in these countries and therefore are still testing on animals. However, there are so many who boycott selling in these place to keep their brands cruelty-free!

The Body Shop

It's been a bit of a rocky relationship with The Body Shop- they were always known as being a great ethical skincare brand until they were bought by L'oreal (a brand that still tests animals when required by law), but thankfully after being sold to a different parent company, The Body Shop is back as one of my personal favourite skincare stops on the high street for cruelty free and vegan skincare as well as make-up, haircare and more. 

They have also recently started a scheme similar to Lush where when you return the plastic containers used for their products, you will receive a £5 voucher for The Body Shop. I think this is a really great way to reduce waste by letting them reuse the plastic bottles and pots but also making sure the brand is accounting for its own waste and helping it be recycled properly. From what I know, right now, this isn't in every store and is only on certain plastic types that they will recycle. However, I hope that in the future, they will look at finding a solution by having all their products in packaging that can be returned and recycled. 

Superdrug

When will I stop shouting about my love for Superdrug? Right now, I can predict that this will never happen! Superdrug is always my go-to for skincare, beauty staples and some great cruelty-free brands. Even their own-brand products are affordable and ethical as they are Leaping Bunny approved. Yes, they aren't the most sustainable with their packaging and they also support and stock brands that aren't as conscious, but they have so many great cruelty-free and vegan products for all areas of your beauty routine which is amazing. 

Fashion

For fashion, it's really about waste - shops offer clothes at great bargains but are they ethically sourced? Are they paying their workers fairly? Are they helping in any way to be more eco-friendly with the waste they are producing from mass production? It may be obvious that in order to have something that is a more eco-friendly, well-sourced slow-fashion item made by a company that makes sure their workers are treated well, the clothing is going to be a little more pricey. But, this doesn't have to be a break-the-bank more pricey but just a few-extra-pounds more pricey. Making small changes yourself in cutting down the number of clothes you buy and only wear once and also opting for brands that offer items from better-sourced materials - this is how we can become more sustainable with our shopping! 

H&M

While H&M isn't always a shop I enjoy going to (their varying sizes baffle my mind!), they have made some great steps to be more conscious in their sourcing of some of their ranges. They now even have a range of basics that use better-sourced cotton and it's only £1 or 2 more than their usual mass-produced ranges. This is something I'm willing to spend for a more ethical and higher quality option that is sure to last a lot longer. Also, their 100% organic cotton sheets are amazing and are some of the cheapest sheets they actually stock! 

If you've been into H&M over the past year, you may have noticed that most of their stores (if not all) now have a drop-off point where you can recycle old clothes. A small addition like this means more and more people can recycle their clothes properly instead of just shoving it in any old bin and it never being recycled and repurposed. 

Monki

Like H&M, Monki now has a great range of items in their "Monki cares" line which focussing on using more consciously sourced materials. In fact, Monki has said that, since 2018, 100% of the cotton used in their garments is 100% sustainably sourced and uses organic and recycled cotton! Monki is really a fabulous company that also doesn't support the production of products tested on animals and the use of animal fur in their products. 

They are really showing that sustainable options can be accessible and at affordable prices. They have made it super easy for us to shop more ethically and, now, it's just about getting the balance in buying what we need and not just constantly buying what's in fashion each season - timeless pieces are so much better! 

Read more about Monki's stance on sustainable fashion. 

Lucy & Yak 

While technically this can only be found on the high street of Brighton, Lucy & Yak is a company that my friends are probably sick of me going on about. They are a smaller brand that is leading by example with sustainably made clothing including recycled fabrics from polyester to even recycled plastic bottles being used in their products. 

I'd say their prices are comparable to Topshop but the quality is on a different level as well as their ethics. So if you'd pay for Topshop quality, why not pay for this? 

Lucy & Yak put the treatment of their staff and manufacturers in India above anyone else - they make sure they receive competitive pay and work in good conditions. Not only that, as I say, they are really focused on cutting down waste and being a great sustainable brand. If you head over to their site, you may recognise their great dungarees which I've been eyeing up for ages. I actually recently bought their 'Blake' Cosy Cropped Fleece and I love it! It's definitely a piece I'll be wearing all winter as well as next year I'm sure.

So these are just a few favourite high street brands I love. And why? Because they are showing that fast fashion high street brands can take steps to become more ethical and sustainable without causing a hole in their customer's pockets. They're showing that if they can do it, why isn't everyone else? This isn't even an exhaustive list of high street UK brands doing their bit (would you like to see a part 2?). 

What I would urge is that you do your research! So many brands may seem as though they are helping when sometimes they are really only following the eco-trend. The conversation around sustainability and ethical brands is ongoing and I'd love to hear your opinions! 

Sarah x 

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