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Ethical shopping in Sydney

Make feel-good purchases from cruelty-free and fair trade items to locally manufactured and recycled goods


It’s not always easy to shop ethically – you often have to fork out extra cash or trudge to the other side of the city – but we’ve found a handful of local businesses that are putting people, animals and the environment first without compromising on desirable products. You’ll find cosmetics that haven’t been tested on animals, unwanted furniture that just needs a little affection, seasonal veggies that don’t cost the earth and clothing that’s been crafted in Australia by workers earning a living wage. Get out and support the lovable locals championing ethical living.

Make a day of it and get lost among peculiar objects at our favourite antique stores, or be kind to you wallet and spend the rest of day spending absolutely nothing on these free Sydney adventures.

Shopping, Cosmetics

The Cruelty Free Shop

icon-location-pin Glebe

A one-stop-shop for vegan products

Founder Jess Bailey started the business out of her bedroom when she was frustrated at how hard it was to access vegan products, now the Cruelty Free Shop on Glebe Point Road puts on an annual Vegan Day Out and hosts frequent book launches. Go here to stock up on certified cruelty-free cosmetics like Natio make-up and sun cream, Kester Black nail polishes, Sukin moisturisers and household cleaning products by Earth.

Person swapping clothes at SWOP Clothing
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Shopping, Op shops

Swop Clothing Exchange

icon-location-pin Newtown

Trade in your old threads for fresh style

This funky little store is offering something otherwise lacking among the Inner West's many vintage and second hand shops: a community marketplace where clothes are currency. Sydneysiders can bring their unwanted retro, vintage and high quality on-trend clothes to Swop, in exchange for store credit or cold hard cash. In an attractive $20-$50 price range, you'll find everything from from ’70s go-go mini dresses in neon floral prints to '80s leather bomber jackets, classic R.M. Williams boots, acres of colourful silk headscarves and even some early 2000s flares and tube tops.

Shopping, Supermarkets

The Ethical Grocer

icon-location-pin Dulwich Hill

Seasonal produce by text message

We’d all like to shop for our veggies at the farmers markets, but sometimes it’s just no convenient. That’s where Gill Bethell comes in with her text-message ordering system at the Ethical Grocer. The Dulwich Hill-based company visits Flemington Markets to bulk buy local produce that’s fair trade and seasonal. You simply choose the fruit and veg you’re after for the week and the Ethical Grocer delivers it to you on a Friday or Saturday for a small fee. 


Reverse Garbage

icon-location-pin Marrickville

Where one man’s trash is another person’s treasure

Marrickville’s recycling institution is celebrating its 40th year of saving unwanted items from ending up as landfill. It’s a hodgepodge of backyard furniture, former Mardi Gras decorations and plastic CD cases, so the best way to see what’s for sale is to follow their Facebook page for updates. If you’re feeling crafty, you can fill a recyclable bag with loose materials like fabric offcuts, ribbon, paper and plastic cups for $5, or fill a large hessian sack for $20.

Shopping, Fashion

The Social Outfit

icon-location-pin Newtown

Know exactly where your clothes are made

The Social Outfit specialises in ethically produced clothing and accessories made in collaboration with social enterprise projects. The store has a sewing school out the back and offers employment and training opportunities to people from migrant and refugee communities living in Sydney. They make silk scarves, tops and fabric clutch bags in vibrant print designs that are often one-off or limited run patterns as the fabric is donated from the fashion industry (saving the offcuts from landfill). And it’s good to know that the person who made it worked in Newtown in a safe environment, earning a living wage. 

Find more of the best shops in Sydney

Shop second-hand and vintage

Photograph: Anna Kucera
Shopping, Vintage

The best vintage shops in Sydney

Get all dressed up in frocks from the 1950s, flares from the swinging sixties and super trendy smocks from the ’70s. You can find outfits from all the ages at Sydney’s best vintage shops, and the homewares to match at Sydney’s best antiques shops.