Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right The best ethical shops in Sydney
The Social Outfit in Newtown
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

The best ethical shops in Sydney

Make feel-good purchases from cruelty-free and fair trade items to locally made fashion

By Emma Joyce
Advertising

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.

There are lots of businesses pivoting to online sales and takeaway to comply with current rules and keep everyone safe. If you do decide to head out for an ethical shop, make sure you're aware of how to go out safely.

RECOMMENDED: 18 of the best vegan restaurants in Sydney

Ethical shopping in Sydney

The Cruelty Free Shop

Shopping Glebe

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 vegan foods, certified cruelty-free cosmetics like Natio make-up and sun cream, Kester Black nail polishes, Sukin moisturisers and household cleaning products by Earth. You can also browse the range on the website.

The Social Outfit
The Social Outfit
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

The Social Outfit

Shopping Newtown

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.

Advertising
Person swapping clothes at SWOP Clothing
Person swapping clothes at SWOP Clothing
Photograph: Daniel Boud

Swop Clothing Exchange

Shopping Op shops Newtown

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.

Person standing inside store at Milk + Thistle store
Person standing inside store at Milk + Thistle store
Photograph: Katje Ford

Milk & Thistle Boutique

Shopping Boutiques Erskineville

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.”

Advertising
Woman looking at flowers in Wild Forager store Sydney
Woman looking at flowers in Wild Forager store Sydney
Photograph: Supplied

Wild Forager

Shopping Florists Freshwater

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.

Alex Elliott-Howery, owner of Cornersmith
Alex Elliott-Howery, owner of Cornersmith
Photograph: Supplied

Cornersmith

Restaurants Cafés Annandale

Note: At the time of publication, Cornersmith is only doing takeaway service and online courses.  See the website and Facebook page for updates about how it is operating as business restrictions ease.

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.

Advertising
Jacket at Spunky Bruiser
Jacket at Spunky Bruiser
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

Spunky Bruiser

Shopping Vintage Darlinghurst

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 – specialises in sustainable and ethical fashion that has been customised with stencilling and applique techniques.

Reverse Garbage

Shopping Marrickville

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.

Advertising
Two womean sitting with a dog Sydney Vegan Market
Two womean sitting with a dog Sydney Vegan Market
Photograph: Supplied

Sydney Vegan Market

Things to do Markets The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

Note: Sydney Vegan Market has suspended it's monthly in-person markets while it manages physical distancing restrictions, launching an online marketplace and a weekly livestream show, Vegan NSW TV.

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 artist Meagan Pelham
Studio A artist Meagan Pelham
Photograph: Daniel Boud

Studio A

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. 

Visiting? Here are some ethical souvenirs to take home from Sydney

Shop second-hand and vintage

The_Collective_Ensemble_credit_Anna_Kucera_004.jpg
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best vintage shops in Sydney

Shopping Vintage

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.

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising