It’s not always easy to shop ethically, 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 loveable locals championing ethical living.
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Ethical shopping in Sydney
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.
The Social Outfit provides employment and training in the fashion industry to people from refugee and new migrant communities. They have a clothing and accessories store on King Street, with a sewing and manufacturing workroom upstairs, so you can shop for a new silk T-shirt or linen jumpsuit and know that the person who made it is directly benefiting from your purchase.
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.
On the south end of King Street there’s a fashion boutique that has a cult following for its Australian designed and made threads. Milk & Thistle is owned by designer Danielle Atkinson, who launched her clothing brand in 2006. “We’ve always manufactured in Australia, but keeping within our ethical production ethos is definitely a focus now and we’re very wary of what materials we use, and how much we produce, and who we produce with.”
When sisters Sarah and Sophie Kelman opened Wild Forager in Freshwater they “didn’t just want to be a flower shop.” They also stock a wide selection of carefully chosen homewares from across the globe. These are all ethically-sourced, with Wild Forager choosing only to partner with brands that share their passion for beauty and sustainability.
Cornersmith's co-founder Alex Elliott-Howery has not only created two go-to cafés in the Inner West for vegetarian cooking, but she also sells handmade pickles and other pantry items from locally sourced seasonal produce. "Sydney’s most popular pickles are a sustainable gift that supports local business, Australian farmers and has handsome environmentally friendly packaging,” she says.
Owners Rebecca Frost and Christian Orso make one-off men’s, women’s and children’s clothing by hand, using reclaimed and repurposed materials. Their store Spunky Bruiser – on Foley Street – specialising in sustainable and ethical fashion that has been customised with stencilling, applique techniques.
We’d all like to shop for our veggies at the farmers markets, but sometimes it’s just not convenient. That’s where Gill Bethell comes in with her online ethical grocery shop. The Dulwich Hill-based company visits Flemington Markets to bulk buy local produce that’s fair trade and seasonal. You simply select 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.
Where one’s trash is another’s treasure at Marrickville’s recycling institution. 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.
On the third Sunday of every month, Sydney Vegan Market brings together 100 stalls selling 100 per cent plant-based food and drink, homewares, fashion, art and cosmetics from some of the biggest names in cruelty-free shopping. The set up at the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park offers a full day of eating, shopping, activism and education.
Studio A in Crows Nest supports artists living with intellectual disability, and they have an online shop selling limited edition ranges of their artists' works. You can find a range of totes featuring original designs for $45, tea towels for $30, and artworks for $250. When you buy from Studio A, you're ensuring Australia’s cultural life includes truly diverse voices.