Perth sustainable shops and clothes and where to find them

Make a list of any neutral basics, for example, you can use in other combinations. Think about what you’re lacking. Work stuff? Casual stuff? Prints? Neutrals? Colours? Stuff that protects your skin from the sun? Make a list.

Thanks to Smart Girls Perth for the basic wardrobe audit routine (they’ll do it for you too, and they’re fantastic).

And just like at the supermarket, a list stops you getting distracted and making costly mistakes.

When you’re ready, shop.

Do buy organic if you can afford it.

Do buy organic if you can afford it. Credit:Getty

Take it from someone who has done hours of research and be aware that virtually every clothing brand available in your local shopping centre will be rated as “not good enough” at best by all the major sites and outfits that ethically rate clothing brands today. That said, if you have to go to the shopping centre, look for organic cotton. That’s about the best you can do.

But there are other options.

I have focused below on those for people who, like me, don’t have the body of a 20-year-old or a broom handle and prefer to be able to try things on.

Low or no-budget. And the greenest options

  1. Join your local Buy Nothing Facebook group and look for free clothes.
  2. Buy at op-shops. One good strip is Albany Highway in East Victoria Park, another is Albany Highway, Cannington. Grab a huge pile of stuff, look for colours and labels you like without fussing too much about sizing and try it all on. The staff won’t bother you about having too many items in the change room. You might be surprised at what fits and looks nice. An added bonus is that any bad choices will only set you back $3-$4. Another is you’ll never turn up to work wearing the same thing as a colleague. Another is you get all the nice feeling of retail therapy, but you walk out with a huge bagful of clothes for $50.
  3. Shop at Kmart or Big W, but look for organic cotton and “better cotton” labels.
  4. Shop clothing bundles on Facebook Marketplace.
  5. Encourage a clothes swapping-culture among family and friends.

Moderate budget

1. Try consignment stores. They’re one-up from an op-shop and where the ladies who lunch offload their barely worn labels. Jackpot.

2. Clothing hire. I haven’t used as I need to try stuff on, but if you’ve got an easy body, check out The Volte.

3. Support Perth’s own sustainable clothing labels. There are several, but if you want to see several labels at once the best place to browse is Collab at the Fremantle Markets. Open Friday to Sunday.

Don’t take a friend with you. Why? Read on.

Don’t take a friend with you. Why? Read on. Credit:Getty

4. Ruck Rover in Northbridge stocks clothes from small sustainable brands for those who like a vintage feel and colourful prints.

5. Buy online from one of the multiple Australian companies supplying affordable basics made from sustainable fabrics. Organic bamboo is much more sustainable than general cotton if thoughtfully sourced (look for bamboo lyocell, not bamboo rayon) and look for information on supply chains on their websites. Two places that have good ranges, cheap shipping and easy returns and refunds for things that don’t fit are Bodypeace and Bamboo Body. Two other well regarded brands that come to mind are Etiko and Boody.

Higher budget

Try these other Perth sustainable brands (there are more, but you can keep researching!):

1. Kristin Magrit. Plant-based and locally made classic styles. Their Subiaco boutique is open Tuesdays and Fridays.

2. Empire Rose. Locally made but more statement pieces. Fremantle shop open weekdays.

Final thoughts

1. Go for slower shipping if you can be prepared to wait to lessen the carbon footprint.

2. Avoid sales. You end up with stuff that’s not quite right that you talked yourself into because it was so heavily discounted. It’s not a good deal if you never wear it.

3. Go alone (unless you’re shopping for a special occasion outfit). You need to focus on what you need and not have someone talking you into things you don’t need just because it’s fun (sorry).

4. Look after your clothes. Educate yourself about laundry and stains. Subscribe to Clean Cloth Nappies for science-based stain removal advice and support. Treat stains quickly but don’t wash stuff until you need to. Clothes will last a lot longer.

Laundry sucks, but we have a responsibility to look after our things properly.

Laundry sucks, but we have a responsibility to look after our things properly. Credit:Shutterstock

Of course, you’re already doing this, but bring your own bags! Keep a scrunchable one in your handbag. If it’s a big planned shopping trip, bring multiple bags.

Even the most die-hard op-shopper needs to buy new occasionally. Undies, socks, bathers, and those situations where you must fill specific gaps in your fabulous secondhand wardrobe. Embrace it, buy as carefully as you can and take real pleasure in that rare new thoughtfully bought item.

Lastly, it is major companies driving environmental destruction, not individuals.

Individual action has a place, which is why I wrote this, but it must include letting companies know what we expect from them. So why not join me for War On Waste Wednesday?

Every week I email one company to let them know I’ve found an example of them using plastic unnecessarily, or inform that I went looking for sustainability or supply chain information on their website that wasn’t there.

For example, last week I emailed David Jones and asked them why they’d abandoned the “Mindfully Made” page on their website launched with great fanfare some time ago. This is a minute of action once a week, and amounts to maybe an hour a year per person, but could bring major change.

That’s it from me. Please add your own suggestions in the comments!


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App aims to give ethical Christmas shopping a fair go

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An app is giving shoppers the opportunity to make sure Christmas presents are ethically sourced.
Photo: 123RF

A free app developed in New Zealand is giving online shoppers the chance to avoid buying Christmas presents tainted by slave labour.

Find Fair is an internet browser extension – developed by the ethical shopping directory fair&good – which marks ethically produced products with an orange stamp of approval in online search results.

The co-founder of fair&good, Dr Susan Maiava, said New Zealanders spent an average of $1700 a year on products linked to child labour, forced labour, debt bondage or human trafficking.

“That’s over $30 a week, on things like clothing, electronic goods and food.

“I know New Zealanders don’t want to be complicit in this. So by shopping ethically, we’re giving New Zealanders the power to shop for good.”

According to research commissioned by fair&good, two-thirds of consumers surveyed found it difficult to know which products were ethically produced.

Find Fair, which was launched in November, makes it easy to identify ethically sourced goods.

Maiava said modern slavery has risen sharply in the last few years, due to the combined economic devastation from Covid and climate change.

“That’s tipped more people into poverty, and the desperation that comes with losing your livelihood makes you more vulnerable to getting caught up in a form of modern slavery.”

Globally there are 50 million people living in modern slavery – an increase of 10 million over the past five years, according to the 2021 Global Estimates of Modern Slavery Report. Nearly 60 percent live in the Asia-Pacific region.

Maiava, who has spent 40 years working in the development field, said ordinary consumers have “tremendous purchasing power”, which makes companies take notice.

Last year New Zealanders spent a record $5.2 billion at retail stores in the six weeks prior to Christmas and nearly $100 million on Boxing Day.

“Spending your money ethically is one of the most powerful tools we have to tackle modern slavery.

“By simply choosing to buy your Christmas gifts from ethical brands you can support human rights and have a positive impact on the lives of the people who make your presents.”

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Ethical shopping guide for Christmas

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have been and gone, and we’re well and truly in the Christmas shopping season. But as cost-of-living pressures continue, and the climate crisis intensifies, businesses and individuals are more mindful than ever about how and where they are spending their dollars.

The Mandarin’s sister publication SmartCompany is in the privileged position of learning about the exciting sustainable and ethically focused companies that are launching across the country each week. And as consumers, they’re also increasingly looking to make more informed shopping decisions too.

So here’s an ethical Christmas shopping guide, packed full of Australian companies striving to make a difference, brought to you by the editorial team of SmartCompany.

Carbon-neutral whisky from Kinglake Distillery

What do you get the climate-conscious, whisky-loving person in your life this Christmas? A nice bottle of Scotch — Japanese, Scottish or Tasmanian — has long been a special present, but even a Bass Straight journey comes with a carbon footprint.

Enter Kinglake, Australia’s first carbon-neutral whisky, produced in Victorian bushland still regenerating after the devastating Black Saturday bushfires of 2009.

How does carbon-neutral whisky work? First, the distillery conducted a sustainability audit to scrutinise every aspect of its production as part of the federal government’s Climate Action program. Now, armed with a deep understanding of every input, Kinglake buys government carbon credits to offset its outputs (and earn its kite mark).

The distillery offsets every grain, barrel, bottle, cork and item of packaging used, and re-forests its own land, to deliver unfiltered whisky made from natural spring water, with zero environmental impact. Cheers to that!

How does it taste? Of freshly-cut grass, orchard fruits and dark chocolate, with a subtle peat finish. 500ml bottles of Kinglake’s flagship O’Grady’s Stand single malt cost $100.

Find out more here.

— Simon Crerar, SmartCompany editor-in-chief

Retro-inspired kids clothing from Goldie & Ace

The perils of the fast fashion industry are well-documented, and yet, buying clothing and accessories for children can often feel like a choice between affordability on the one hand and ethics and sustainability on the other.

That’s why it was exciting to discover Victorian-based brand Goldie & Ace when I became a parent. Goldie & Ace focuses on making clothes for kids that last; classic, timeless styles like jumpers and overalls, which were the mainstay in the 1980s and 1990s, and which can be handed down to family and friends. And which won’t break the bank.

Goldie & Ace garments are made in small batches by a small team in China and are Oeko Tex certified, which means no nasty substances are used in their production. The brand sends out its products in compostable packaging, donates to social and environmental causes with every sale via i=Change, offers recycling and reselling options via AirRobe, and even offers a free mending service so you can get the most wear out of the products.

I can personally vouch for the quality and longevity of the brand’s items and so if you’re buying a gift for a little person this Christmas, keep Goldie & Ace in mind.

And if you’re an Aussie kid of the 80s, like me, the retro designs will take you right back to those family road trips and long, hot summer days mucking around in the backyard.

Find out more here.

— Eloise Keating, SmartCompany news editor

Native ingredients for the cooks in your life

Native ingredients have become increasingly popular for foodies over the last few years. Wattleseed, saltbush, mountain pepperberry and finger lime are popping off on menus.

Similarly, lemon myrtle and Davidson plums have become staples in the likes of Australian gin.

So if you have a home cook to shop for, I strongly encourage you to buy from Indigenous native ingredient specialists.

As the Traditional Custodians of this land, respect and ethical use and sale of native ingredients are at the heart of these Aboriginal-owned businesses.

And if you’re looking for other Aboriginal-owned businesses to buy from that aren’t just culinary-related, Trading Blak is a fantastic place to check out for guaranteed stores that are First Nations-owned and operated.


Ingiearth offers a range of products, ranging from raw ingredients — like cinnamon myrtle, river mint and pepperberry leaf — to infusions like lemon myrtle olive oil and wattleseed infused coffee.

You’ll also find non-edible gifts such as candles, essential oil blends and diffusers.

Seven Seasons

For spirit lovers, Adelaide-based Seven Seasons has some unique and delicious offerings.

These include its green ant gin, bush apple gin and native yam vodka.

And if you’re looking for more Aboriginal distillers, check out Taka Gin, Axel Vodka (which is also female-owned and operated) and Beachtree Distilling Co.

Chocolate on Purpose

For chocolate lovers, Chocolate on Purpose injects native ingredients into its creations.

Some standouts include:

  • Milk chocolate with quandong and macadamia nut;
  • Dark chocolate with mountain pepperberry and wild rosella;
  • White chocolate with Davidson’s plum; and
  • Ruby chocolate with raspberry.

The business has also created salami that contains chocolate. As someone who adds a little dark chocolate to some chillis and gravy, I am very keen to try this.

Amber’s Food Wraps

If you’re looking to cut down on plastic wrap and single-use plastics, beeswax food wraps are a great alternative. They are perfect for wrapping the likes of cheese, bread, cut vegetables and fruit, etc. You can also use them to wrap sandwiches and other foodstuffs for lunch boxes, picnics and hikes.

— Tegan Jones, SmartCompany senior technology reporter

Amber’s Food Wraps (Facebook)

Eco-friendly cleaning products from Pleasant State

Pleasant State founders Ami Bateman and Sian Murray say they felt there was no “alternative” to creating their innovative, non-toxic home cleaning products once the seed for the idea had been planted. And that’s how I feel about using those products, now that I’ve started.

Pleasant State makes concentrated cleaning bars that dissolve in water to create non-toxic and multipurpose cleaning products that can be used around the house.

The Pleasant State sets come with colour-coded glass bottles to match the bars and rooms they are designed to help clean, as well as cleaning cloths. Once your first bars have run out, you can order refill bars, which come in home compostable wrappers. The best part is the system completely does away with the need to buy liquid cleaning products in plastic bottles.

Pleasant State was founded in 2020, achieved B Corp status in February 2022, and recently branched out into just-add-water hand wash and dish wash detergents. I can’t wait to try them.

Find out more here.

— Eloise Keating, SmartCompany news editor

Pleasant State Products (Supplied)

Composting at home with Subpod

Subpod is a three-in-one composting box, worm farm and garden seat buried 90% into the ground, meaning there’s no smell, no mess, no pests and it only needs a small amount of space compared to traditional bulky compost bins.

The Subpod plastic box has perforated holes that let clews of busy worms move freely between the box and the garden, decomposing food scraps before distributing the organic matter in their castings. This nutrient-rich worm waste bolsters soil fertility and plant health in the garden, meaning Subpod owners can simultaneously dispose of, and also replenish, homegrown veggies, fruits, and herbs in a sustainable way!

This year a mini version of the Subpod was released by the Byron Bay company, making it a great Christmas gift for everyone from city dwellers with limited outdoor space right up to those working in big commercial operations. Plus, the planet will love you for it — 10 Subpods prevent the equivalent of the emissions of five cars a year (23 tonnes). Folks can also join Subpod Grow app to connect with their fellow greenies and share tips and tricks to live with a lighter footprint. I love that Subpod arrives flat-packed and clips together in just five minutes too.

— Emma Elsworthy, SmartCompany journalist

Subpod (Supplied)

Indulgent treats from Jasper + Myrtle Chocolates

Jasper + Myrtle is a Canberra-based chocolate maker founded by Li Peng Monroe. A family-owned business run by Monroe and her partner Peter, all Jasper + Myrtle’s chocolates are handmade from cacao beans imported from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea.

Monroe personally visits the company’s suppliers each year to make sure all the beans are ethically sourced, with the sustainability and traceability of the ingredients in Jasper + Myrtle’s chocolates a core value of the business.

Because the products are handmade from bean to bar and in small batches, no two bars are the same, and the company spends weeks testing and refining each flavour in order to meet its taste and texture standards.

Jasper + Myrte’s range includes both milk and dark chocolate bars, drinking chocolate, and eight different flavours of gelato.

All its products are produced out of Jasper + Myrtle’s factory in Fyshwick, Canberra, and its chocolates can be found both in local shops and markets, or accessed via post around Australia.

Find out more here.

— David Convery, SmartCompany chief production and sub-editor

Jasper + Myrtle Chocolates (Facebook)

Native botanical skincare products from Bush Medjina

I was lucky enough to receive a package of Bush Medjina products as a gift last year and I have since ordered some of the brand’s beautiful lip and body balms to give to others.

Based out of a few shipping containers in Angurugu in a remote part of the Northern Territory, Bush Medjina uses traditional Indigenous native botanical knowledge that has been passed down for generations to create a range of skincare products, from soaps and shower gels, to hair oils, balms and scrubs.

The Indigenous-run social enterprise supports Warningakalina women, and celebrates and preserves Indigenous bush knowledge and culture.

Find out more here.

— Eloise Keating, SmartCompany news editor

Rethinking ‘new’ at Chapel St Bazaar

So much of what we consider ‘sustainability’ involves cutting waste and emissions from the production process. But being sustainable isn’t just about efficient manufacturing — it’s about recognising when ‘new’ things aren’t necessary at all.

Chapel St Bazaar, a vintage and second-hand market in Prahran, Melbourne, is one of my favourite small businesses to visit. Throwback fashion, mid-century furniture, and oddball ephemera make it one of the most compelling shopfronts in the famous shopping district.

And the fact every item has already lived a life means each purchase is, in a way, sustainable; after all, you’re not drawing on the Earth’s finite resources to bring your next wardrobe staple or statement piece into existence.

The same applies to Christmas purchases. Unique gifts? Vintage markets have you sorted. Fresh glassware for the big day? Your local second-hand store likely has more matching sets than they know what to do with.

So this summer, I highly recommend visiting small businesses near you that cycle used, quality goods back into circulation. If you’re lucky enough to live in Melbourne, consider another visit to Chapel St Bazaar. You might find me rifling through the stalls, too.

Find out more here.

— David Adams, SmartCompany senior business reporter

Chapel St Bazaar (Facebook)

Sustainable flower centrepieces from Ponder Posy

There’s a certain image associated with the holiday season — lush Christmas trees, verdant garlands and wreaths of woven evergreens, holly and mistletoe.

To this end, Rebecca Trevitt’s practice is a form of rebellion. Trading ephemeral blooms for dried botanicals, flower pods, grasses and even fruits, the Ponder Posy founder seeks to redefine what floristry means. “I am drawn to materials that last,” she said. “[Materials] that can be saved and repurposed for botanical styling and home decor, or simply left to fade away in the vase.”

Sustainability informs every stage of the Adelaide-based creative’s practice. “I source materials from local and Australian growers only,” she explained. The result is work that pays homage to nature’s natural rhythm, “honouring the limitations of the seasons and nuances of sustainable flower farming”.

Guided by her philosophy of “gentle chaos, crooked stems and broken leaves that let the sun shine through”, Trevitt’s arrangements breathe new life into the forlorn, transforming overlooked materials into sculptural explorations of shape, texture and colour. Her holiday wreaths are a prime example of this, weaving together dainty blushing brides, windswept foliage and bright yellow strawflowers to create long-lasting — yet compostable — centrepieces.

Find out more here.

— Joseph Lew, Private Media social media editor

Ponder Posy (Supplied)

Stainless steel clothes pegs from Spend With Us

These stainless steel pegs aren’t made of recycled or reclaimed materials, but they will last you forever and won’t clog up landfill or oceans when you’re done. They’re built to last, come in some great colours and are perfect for the Australian summer — tested in high heat conditions and can survive exposure to sun and salty air.

They won’t dry out in the sun or rust. They won’t crack or go all powdery like the plastic ones. They won’t twist off their hinges like the wooden ones. And they won’t fall off in the wind and get mangled up under your lawnmower. Seriously, don’t run over them with your lawnmower.

They’re available from plenty of Australian sustainable retailers. I got mine a few years back from Spend With Us, a bush business marketplace set up by Sarah Britz, Lauren Hately and Jenn Donovan to support regional retailers that have been affected by drought, bushfire, coronavirus and flood.

Find out more here.

— Ben Ice, SmartCompany special features editor

Spend With Us (Supplied)

This article is reproduced from our sister publication SmartCompany.

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Is Thrift Shopping *Actually* Ethical?

One day, I was scrolling through Twitter and came across a tweet about upper-middle-class class people thrift shopping. I personally was against the up cycling/re-selling trend because I thought it to be greedy. Then, I began to see more and more tweets, and then stated to see ones about those who buy thrifted, name brand items and sell them for what they’re actually worth instead of the very low price they got them for.

The debate is that thrift stores are for those who are economically disadvantaged; upper to middle class folks have increasingly become interested in thrifting, which leaves little options for those who could are actually struggling to find affordable clothing. As a middle class serial thrifter, I was interested. I wondered if all my previous thrifting was actually doing more harm to others than it was expanding my closet and saving me money. So I researched a little bit and have found a few different viewpoints on the issue to consider.

The first I’ll touch on the fact that when a store gets so much business, and a demand is seen for their items, they raise prices. So, obviously, this is detrimental for the less advantaged people who actually need and depend on those thrift stores and their low prices. I’ve actually witnessed this happen in my own town.

As I said before, I was a serial thrifter with a love for vintage tee’s and sweaters. So when I pop into my favorite thrift store and see that prices have changed from $1.25 to $1.75 (and sometimes more depending on the item) I was a bit upset. I even noticed a specific section in the center of the store with all the more expensive, and consequently, name brand items.

A name brand item can make all the difference for someone who is poor and needs a nice shirt for a job interview. It can be the difference in getting the job or not. It can be the difference that takes them out of poverty. Or a little girl or boy in school. I used to see kids getting made fun of for their clothes and being poor, and not provided with the same opportunities as the richer kids. So, it was disheartening for me to realize that something like this could stop them from improving their confidence and quality of life.

Most middle to upper class people have more than enough clothes, and just want new ones. I’m guilty of this. When I figured out that I could go on huge shopping spree’s with a mere $20.00, I was all over it. This presented me with a problem though; I was never buying anything I actually needed. I was much more apt to buying something just because it was super cheap and I thought I *might* wear it. But more importantly, I was taking advantage of a system and taking away opportunities for people who didn’t have it as well as I did.

Then, there’s the argument that there’s plenty of clothing to go around. And for big cities, this may be the case… but think about smaller towns and communities. If there’s a small portion of poor people who need the thrifted clothing, and a moderate amount of richer folks who are buying up all the good clothes, that just doesn’t seem fair to me. But, there’s also lots of bigger thrift stores who donate to service projects, and it’s great that they’re profiting off this trend of thrifting.

This isn’t to say that middle class people don’t sometimes find themselves in a place where they need to thrift. It’s also not to say that no one who has money should thrift shop- ever. I’m writing this as more of a reminder to be conscious with our purchases and when bargain shopping. Yes, you found it for a steal- but, do you really think you’ll put it to use? Yes, it’s a killer shirt for a low price, but can’t you find another decently priced shirt elsewhere and perhaps give someone else an opportunity to be trendy and stylish? Just food for thought.

I only lightly touched on the thrift shopping debate. If you’d like to look more into this issue, I’d suggest checking out this, this, and this, website!!

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