You’ve probably heard the phrase “conscious closet” floating around recently. It’s an idea that’s become very trendy, but so often we miss the real ideal and benefit behind it. In this next #NationalFairTradeMonth series post I want to help us think about what it means to achieve the goal of a conscious closet (and household) – realistically.

I promised you that with these posts I would not guilt you into feeling like you have to toss out your whole wardrobe and whatever things in your house are not fair trade. Or sustainably made. Or ethically fashioned. And I mean to stay true to my word! But I do hope that as a result, this gives you some things to chew on and some ideas you can start implementing into your thinking and lifestyle now.

What on earth is a “conscious closet”?

First, let’s look at what the word “conscious” means:


  • aware of and responding to one’s surroundings; awake.
synonyms: awareawakealertresponsivesentientcompos mentis

“the patient was conscious”
  • having knowledge of something; aware.
    “we are conscious of the extent of the problem”

When it comes to the way we shop, how can we apply this term to our lives? Clothing, household items, furniture, etc. I’m no grammatical, literary, philosophical or ethical expert, but to me, having a conscious closet plainly means that I am paying attention to WHAT I am acquiring and WHY.

It means I am THINKING about these purchases before I make them. That I am AWARE of how these things make me feel when I’m researching them, thinking about and spending money on them.

Taking things one level deeper, it is a realization that I am CONSCIOUS that the item I just bought was made by a real live person (in most instances). And that I can actually impact that person’s life by the choices I make when I’m shopping.

The goal of the fast fashion industry is to overwhelm. They hit us with so many changing fashions, options and low prices that it forces us into quick decisions. Who cares if it’s cheap construction? It’s just going to be out of fashion in 9 months anyway. These are UNconscious decisions that our hearts respond to, which our brains don’t get a chance to process. The thrill of the hunt, if you will.

The goal of slow fashion is quite the opposite. To create sustainable styles and quality items that will not fade over time. Yes, the prices are higher, but for good reason, because the people who made them are being paid fair wages, working in safe facilities, and actually providing for their families and growing their communities.

I’m not made of money, you say. And as much as I’d love to support the fair trade industry, I can’t afford to buy a lot of these things. Yeah. Me neither.

So what’s a person to do when they want to support ethical, sustainable manufacturing and ideals, but don’t have a lot of money (like most of us!), and often have very little access to good options? Stay tuned for Part 2 and some ideas on how to curate a conscious closet.