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Fashion, Life & Style

Where to Buy the Best Ethical Leggings

Wondering where to buy the best sustainable and ethical leggings for sport or for working from home? Read on for the Moral Fibres top recommendations – from leggings made from natural materials to leggings made from recycled plastic bottles, to leggings with pockets!

I’ve written a whole guide to women’s ethical clothing brands, but what about when you are looking for something specific, such as leggings?

With the pandemic requiring many people to work from home, smart officewear has been abandoned, and comfort is king. Many of us are working in our more comfortable, stretchy, and forgiving clothing. What’s more, we have even pushed aside our jeans in favour of elasticated waists. What’s taken their place? Step forward leggings.

Of course, comfort isn’t the only explanation for the rise in popularity in leggings. Cycling, walking, and running levels are all on the up due to the pandemic.

Where to Buy Ethical Leggings

Let me show you some of my favourite places to buy ethical leggings. I’ve taken into account sizing, so tried to find brands offering inclusive sizing, and I’ve tried to cater to a range of price points. As such you’ll see a price key for each brand.

The price range key for this guide is £ = Under £50 | ££ = £50 – 100 | £££ = £100+

I’m mindful that everyone has different ethics when it comes to clothing. As such, this guide has been designed to be a starting-off point for you to research the most sustainable option for your own particular set of ethics.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that have been purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

On to the brands!

Baukjen

baukjen activewear

Caters for: sizes 6 – 18

Price range: ££

Baukjen*, a certified B Corp, offers a small selection of leggings catering for the ethical shopper.

Ethically manufactured in Europe, their activewear leggings are made from Econyl®. This is a technical fabric, made with recycled nylon from rescued ocean plastic and plastic waste. Baukjen also uses low-impact dyes, which are kinder to the environment.

Handily, these leggings come with a side pocket for your phone and your keys.

T=Use the exclusive discount code MORALFIBRES15 to take 15% off full price orders.

Bam: Bamboo

ethical leggings from Bam Bamboo

Caters for: sizes 8 – 16

Price range: £ – ££

Bam: Bamboo’s range of ethical leggings* is the widest I’ve found.

You can shop for:

  • Full-length leggings
  • 7/8 length leggings
  • 3/4 length leggings
  • Capri leggings
  • Skirt leggings
  • Ethical leggings with pockets
  • High waisted leggings
  • Deep waist leggings

All in wide range of colourways and patterns (including plain black), that remain non-see through not matter what exercise you are doing.

Their leggings are made from bamboo, rather than recycled plastic. Clothing made from bamboo isn’t always the environmental panacea it sounds, due to the use of harsh chemicals and the resultant impacts on workers and the environment. However, I’ve taken a look at BAM: Bamboo’s practices, and they only work with bamboo fibre producers who use safe and responsible chemistry and waste treatment practices, and who are committed to investing in the technology needed to further improve their practices, processes, and chemistry where necessary.

You can check out my full review of BAM: Bamboo here.

Boody

boody

Caters for: sizes 6 – 16

Price range: £

Overwhelmed by choice and just want plain black leggings that are ethical? Boody’s black bamboo leggings* come in three lengths – three-quarter, crop, and full length. You can also choose between leggings for everyday wear or activewear leggings. The only thing you can’t choose is the colour – they all come in black! Great if you are suffering from decision fatigue!

Again, Boody manufacture their leggings from bamboo, however, they have a closed-loop system for turning the raw bamboo into a soft, silky fabric. Here, all the solvents are captured and removed safely, and the all liquid is recycled. You can find out more about their processes, ethics and accreditations here*.

Girlfriend Collective’s Ethical Leggings

Girlfriend Collective Leggings UK

Caters for: sizes XXS – 6XL

Price range: ££

US-based Girlfriend Collective sell the most inclusive ethical leggings I’ve found, offering up to a 6XL size. Their leggings for activewear are made in Asia from recycled plastic bottles, in a factory that guarantee fair wages, safe and healthy conditions, and zero forced or child labour. Their factory is also SA8000 certified.  This is a social accountability standard and certificate developed by Social Accountability International (SAI), which help and protect workers worldwide by providing a standardized guideline to protect the integrity of workers’ conditions and wages. SA8000 overlaps with Fair Trade certification, but while Fair Trade is predominantly used for farming, SA8000 is a certification used in factory conditions.

What’s more Girlfriend Collective has embraced circularity. Through their ReGirlfriend Scheme, Girlfriend take back your old Girlfriend pieces to turn them into brand new Girlfriend pieces, rather than being downcycled into insulation. And if the warm glow of doing something good wasn’t enough, then by way of thanks, you receive $15 USD towards a future Girlfriend purchase. Win!

Buy Girlfriend Collective leggings in the UK via Know The Origin*, which stock up to 3XL sizes. Exeter based ethical retailer Wow Sancho also stocks up to 6XL sizes.

Organic Basics Ethical Leggings

Organic Basics ethical leggings

Caters for: sizes XS – XXL

Price range: ££

Danish-based Organic Basics pride themselves on selling, well, sustainable basics fairly made in Europe from GOTS certified organic cotton or recycled materials.  They offer basic colours, timeless styles, and no seasonal collections to minimise wastage.  As such, they have a small but perfectly formed range of full-length ethical leggings* in five colourways.

Their leggings are made from recycled nylon, and their active leggings have a pocket for your phone and keys.

I have a pair of their leggings and what I especially love is that their leggings are sewn together in a way that creates no seams. This means you don’t get any irritation when you are working out, and it increases durability because there are no weak points in the garment. Organics Basics leggings do run at the more expensive end of the spectrum, however I’ve had mine for 5 years now. I’ve worn mine daily and I can confirm that they are still in pristine condition. No holes that I’ve had to repair yet!

Use discount code WENDYOBC to take 10% off your order.

People Tree

people tree activewear

Caters for: sizes 8 – 16

Price range: £

If you are looking for leggings to complement your work from home wardrobe, rather than to be active in, then try People Tree’s range of leggings*, which start from £25.

Their super soft leggings are made from 95% GOTS certified organic cotton with 5% elastane for comfort and movement. Their organic cotton is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment, with systems in place to replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilisers, and build biologically diverse agriculture.

They also offer yoga leggings, again made from 95% GOTS and Fair Trade certified organic cotton and 5% elastane. These leggings come with a pocket for your phone. In case you hadn’t guessed, I am all about the pockets, so this detail genuinely makes me happy!

Seasalt

Caters for: sizes 6 – 28

Price range: £

Offering inclusive sizing at a lower price point (leggings start from £18.95), Seasalt’s leggings* are made from 95% GOTS certified organic. In fact, Seasalt were the very first fashion company to achieve Soil Association GOTS certification in 2005, and they’ve continued to do great things by bringing sustainability to the high street, whilst catering for the widest range of sizes.

I have a pair of their Seadance ethical leggings, which I bought earlier this year. They are lovely and thick, and incredibly comfortable. They come in a wide range of solid colours – they’re not patterned though, and they don’t have pockets.

Thought Clothing

thought clothing leggings

Caters for: sizes 6 – 18

Price range: £

Thought’s range of reasonably priced sustainable leggings* is pretty wide. From leggings in a variety of colours, prints, you can also choose between GOTS certified organic cotton or bamboo, or leggings with a mix of organic cotton and bamboo. There is something for everyone. As well as producing their clothes ethically, what I like about Thought is that they turn their scrap fabrics into headbands, and leftover yarns into socks. They use also zero plastic packaging, which is a great additional touch.

Where to Buy Secondhand Ethical Leggings

As with any aspect of ethical clothing, the single most sustainable option is always to buy secondhand ethical leggings. Some people have qualms about secondhand clothing (particularly activewear), and others don’t. I personally don’t – a hot wash quickly dissolves any concerns. If you are similarly ok with the notion of secondhand clothing and/or activewear then here are several ideas on where to buy secondhand clothes online. And specifically for secondhand activewear, try ReRun Clothing. Their mission is to prolong the life of running clothes, so they focus solely on activewear. Their preloved leggings start from just £3 and include activewear brands such as Adidas, Superdry, Karrimor, and more.

Tell Me More About Recycled Polyester

Recycled polyester sounds amazing, doesn’t it? I mean, what’s not to love? Clothing that’s made from recycled plastic, and in some cases, recycled ocean plastic is surely the way forward? Well, it’s not that simple I’m afraid.

It’s important to know that recycled polyester isn’t a silver bullet. For regular leggings that you put on for everyday wear – for example, if you wear leggings instead of tights, or for working from home in – then I would always choose natural fibres for this use, where possible. Look for natural materials such as organic cotton.

For ethical leggings for sportswear, the main market is in recycled polyester. This is because it’s simply not possible to make leggings for sport from 100% natural fabrics, and still have the properties that we expect performance sportwear to have. The problem is that when you wash a synthetic garment, such as recycled polyester, then it sheds plastic microfibres. These end up in our oceans, rivers, and soils, which in turn end up in our marine life, in our drinking water, in the foods we eat, and ultimately in our bodies. You can wash your clothes in a microplastic catcher, such as a Guppyfriend*, but ultimately I think the responsibility should lie with the Government, clothing manufacturers, and washing machine manufacturers to come up with a solution that doesn’t shoulder responsibilty and cost on to the end user (i.e. us).

The other issue is that recycled polyester is recycled but it is not recyclable. At the end of your products life, it will probably end up in landfill, unless you shop with a brand that offers a circular recycling system. For this reason, it’s important to look after your clothes, follow the correct washing instructions, repair any tears when they appear, and wear your clothes until they wear out and are unrepairable. People change size, it happens, so in this instance, selling your clothes or passing them on to others to keep them in active use is vital.

Fashion, Life & Style

The Best Sites To Sell Your Secondhand Clothes Online

where to sell secondhand clothes online uk

Looking for the best sites to sell your secondhand clothes online for extra cash? Read on for my top recommendations.

I’ve written before on where to buy secondhand clothes online. But what about where to sell secondhand clothes online?

You might be thinking that the most sustainable thing to do is to donate your unwanted clothes to your local charity shops. However, it’s a not-so-well-known fact that charity shops can’t always sell what we donate to them. Therefore, selling secondhand clothes online can be more sustainable than dumping all your old clothes at your local charity shop.

So let’s take a look at what happens to our clothes when we donate them to charity shops, or via clothing banks or doorstep collection bags. Then I’ll take a look at some of the best places to sell your secondhand clothes online, to ensure they remain in active use.

Where Do Our Clothes Go When We Donate Them to Charity Shops?

used clothes recycling

We donate our unwanted clothes to charity shops and they sell all of our donations in their store, right?

Wrong. This certainly used to be the case up to around 20 years ago. However, the number of garments being produced has doubled in the last 20 years. Meanwhile, during this time the cost of clothing has plummeted. This exponential rise of cheap fast-fashion clothing has meant that clothing is now viewed as a disposable commodity. What this in turn means is that our charity shops are flooded with cheap, poor quality clothing that nobody wants, and can’t be sold at a price that makes money for the charity shop.

Dr Andrew Brooks, author of the book Clothing Poverty says that the majority of the clothes we donate to charity shops now won’t be sold in the store, but instead will be traded abroad for profit.

In an interview with the BBC, he says:

“I think there is a common presumption amongst the general public that if they give something to charity it’s most likely to be sold in one of these shops. And while many garments are sold in these shops, the demand is relatively low compared to the supply, and far more get exported overseas.”

In fact, in the same interview, it is cited that more than 70% of all UK reused clothing donated via charity shops, clothing banks, and doorstep collection bags heads overseas.

Once it arrives overseas, here it is chopped up into rags, sold on at markets, or thrown into landfill.

The Impact of the International Trade on Secondhand Clothes

Where secondhand clothing is sold on at markets, it has a negative effect on local textile industries in many countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where a third of all globally donated clothes are sold, Dr Andrew Brooks found the impacts of the secondhand clothing industry has been devasting for these local textile industries.  In Ghana, for example, he cites that their textile and clothing employment fell by 80% between 1975 and 2000. Meanwhile, he also cites that Nigeria’s 200,000-person textile workforce has all but disappeared.

The Rag Trade

Where clothes can’t be sold on, they get recycled into rags. The town of Panipat in North India recycles over 100,000 tonnes of our cast-offs every year. So much so that it is known as the world’s “cast-off capital“.

What’s so utterly embarrassing is that the women of Panipat that shred these practically unworn garments have surmised that there is a water shortage in the Western world. That’s because the mindless nature of our clothing consumption is so alien to them, that they assume it’s too expensive for us to wash our clothes. This is the only way for them to make sense of how we discard our clothing after only wearing it a handful of times.  

It’s easy to point the finger at us consumers for buying so many items of clothing, that we barely wear. However, it’s important to remember that fast fashion companies are also complicit. BooHoo alone adds over 100 new items per day to their website. At the time of writing, H&M’s new arrivals page displays 1697 new items of women’s clothing. These companies constantly push us to buy more and more, when it’s simply not sustainable to do so.

Where to Sell Your Secondhand Clothes Online

where to sell secondhand clothes online uk

Reducing the number of clothes we buy is a great first step in having a more sustainable and planet-friendly wardrobe. However, no matter how considerate we are in buying new clothes, there will always be items that no longer fit us, no longer suit us, or are no longer suitable for the life we now lead. Therefore, here are five ideas on where to sell your secondhand clothes online.

eBay

I’ve been selling secondhand clothes on eBay since 2005. Whilst there have been lots of changes since 2005, I still rate eBay as a great place to sell secondhand clothes online, due to its huge global market.

Selling Options

eBay offers a range of selling options. You can list your clothing as a “buy it now”, that allows buyers to immediately purchase the item at a set price. Or you can set a best offer price, that allows buyers to haggle with you. Or you can list your item in eBay’s online auction, at a starting price of your choice, with an auction length of between one and ten days. If the item fails to sell in the auction, you can choose to automatically relist your item.

It’s really easy to sell on eBay – you can list items directly via the eBay app. Alternatively, you can take some photos and and list it via your laptop/computer.

Fees

You generally don’t pay a fee to list your item. Instead, you pay a final value fee, based on the selling price of your item. This is 12.8% of the selling price of your item, including postage, and a 30p selling fee. This means that for an item of clothing that sells for £10, and has a £3 postage fee, eBay will take £1.96, leaving you with £11.04.

It does irk me that eBay takes a cut of the postage costs because you aren’t allowed to charge more than the actual postage cost of the item.

You can also give a percentage of your sale to charity, with eBay automatically doing that on your behalf.

eBay used to partner with Paypal, and you got paid before you posted your item. eBay has since parted ways with Paypal, and now they use their own in-house payment system. This system isn’t as smooth as Paypal and now takes several days for the payment to clear. This means that you don’t get paid until after you have posted your item. eBay, however, tells you as soon as the buyer has paid for your item (don’t post your item until once you get that confirmation). Once you have received confirmation that the buyer has made payment to eBay, then eBay then guarantees that you will receive your money within two working days. So far, we’ve not had a problem with this new system.


Depop

Depop has really risen in popularity in the last few years, as one of the places to shop online for secondhand clothes, via it’s Instagram meets eBay format.

Selling on Depop is simple. Add some photos of your item and a description, and decide the price you want to sell at. Depop takes 10% of the selling price of your item (including postage costs), and you get paid via Paypal as soon as your item sells. PayPal takes a transaction fee of 2.9% + £0.30 in the UK. This means that for an item of clothing that sells for £10 and has a £3 postage fee, Depop and Paypal will take £1.97, leaving you with £11.03. This makes their selling fees on par with eBay.

Again, Depop takes a cut of the postage, which I feel is unfair. And just to warn you, there seems to be a bit of Depop drama that I haven’t seen with eBay.


Vinted

Vinted is another new-ish secondhand clothing market, where anyone can list their clothes for sale. What’s different about Vinted, compared to eBay and Depop is that there are no selling fees. Instead, the buyer pays a fee to buy an item, which varies based on the price of the item they are buying. This means as a seller that you get 100% of the sale price of an item. The buyer also pays the postage costs, and Vinted doesn’t take a cut of this either.


Thrift+

Can’t stand the thought of taking photos of items, writing descriptions, dealing with buyers, and making trips to the post office? This where Thrift+ comes in. They will do all of this leg work for you and donate a percentage of the profits to charity too.

If you have clothes to sell, Thrift+ will send you a pre-paid postage bag which you use to send your items to Thrift+. That’s the limit of what you need to do.

What Thrift+ Accepts

Thrift+ isn’t a panacea for solving your overflowing wardrobe woes. They have standards in place as to what they can accept, so you can’t offload Boohoo or Primark hauls.

They accept recognisable brands in the following categories

HIGH STREET BRANDS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION such as Boden, Topshop, Asos, & Zara

PREMIUM BRANDS IN GOOD CONDITION such as &Other Stories, Whistles, COS, Hobbs, Phase Eight, Reiss, North Face

DESIGNER BRANDS, WHICH CAN HAVE MINOR DEFECTS such as Kenzo, Chloe, Versace, Stella McCartney, Burberry, Missoni, Prada, Gucci

Everything Thrift+ sells also has to pass their quality assessment, so before you send in your clothes, please check that they are clean, in good condition, and are a brand they accept. When an item fails their quality tests, they will donate them to their charity partners, and cannot return these items, so do be honest with yourself before sending in your items.

What Fees Do Thrift+ Charge?

As Thrift+ does all of the leg work for you, there is a higher charge for this service compared to other outlets. Thrift+ charges 33% commission per item, with a minimum fee of £5 per item sold. At least £1 per sale will go to your chosen charity.

Here are a few examples:

  • For an item that sells for £30 – Thrift+, the charity, and the donor each receive £10.
  • For an item that sells for £10 – Thrift+ charges £5, and the charity & donor each receive £2.50. 
  • And for an item that sells for £5 or less – Thrift+ donates £1 to charity (this is their minimum donation), then the remainder of the sale price is used for Thrift+ fees to cover the cost of processing.

Thrift+ don’t charge anything upfront. Instead, fees are deducted from the sale amounts. When your items sell, you will earn Thrift+ credits. You can then donate those credits to your chosen charity. Alternatively, you can choose to keep some or all of them to spend again on the Thrift+ site or redeem for a John Lewis gift card.


Vestiaire Collective

French-owned Vestiaire Collective specialises in designer labels.

You list your item free of charge on their site. Then, once your item sells you post it to Vestiaire Collective for authentication by their experts. Once authenticated, Vestiaire then sends it to the buyer. It sounds a bit of a faff, but this authentication process makes buyers feel more confident buying pre-owned designer goods online. You may therefore earn more money selling designer items on Vestiaire Collective compared to other online sites.

It’s important to bear in mind that because of the authentication process, you don’t get paid as soon as your item sells. After authentication, your payment should arrive two to six days after that.

Vestiaire Collective charges a flat fee of £13 for all items up to and including £130. For items above £130, they take 15-25% of the sale price, depending on what you sell your item for.

Not sure what to price your item at? Vestiaire Collective have a handy resale calculator to help you price your item accordingly.

Should I Not Donate My Secondhand Clothes To Charity Shops?

where to sell used clothes online

I’m not saying that we should never donate to charity shops. I think we should be more considerate of what we are donating.

It’s important to remember that just because a charity shop is run by a charity doesn’t mean that there aren’t costs involved. Most charity shops aren’t run 100% by volunteers, the store manager is salaried. Meanwhile, there are rent costs, utility costs, and all the costs involved in running a business. Many charity shops have monthly sales targets that they need to meet to show that they are covering their running costs and contributing to the charity.

Cheap, poor-quality clothing is hard for charity shops to sell and doesn’t generate much profit. Because of the low margins these are the types of clothing that are most likely to get sent abroad. However, when you donate good quality and desirable clothing, this allows charity shops to sell the item in the store at a price that enables them to make money.

As with many of the problems caused by fast fashion, the solution all comes down to people with disposable incomes choosing to buy fewer items of clothing and spending more on quality items of clothing that they will wear time and time again. The fast fashion industry, and the spill-off problems it creates, won’t change until those of us with disposable incomes slow our consumption patterns right down.

What About Used Clothes That You Can’t Sell?

If you have stained, ripped, holey, or other clothes in bad condition that can’t be sold online, and that a charity shop wouldn’t want then there is no need for these to go to landfill. Simply pop them in a bag marked as rags, and the charity shop can sell these on to the rag trade. This way, the charity shop still receives some money, and textile recycling companies can recycle these unwanted items of clothing into things like fillings for use in mattress production, or for producing filling material for furniture padding, panel linings, loudspeaker cones, and car insulation.