Unethical Purchases, Limits & Feeling Guilty 

Feeling Guilty about Unethical Purchases

by Sarah Dickard

There is probably a small niche of people out there who have feelings of guilt when purchasing something that was not made in the USA, created with unethical principles, or recycled in some way.

In essence, purchases that were made without ethics in mind.

This post is going to directly speak to these feelings of guilt you may have.

For those of you who are not in this niche, I’m going to talk about our limits and the guilt we feel when we can’t accomplish everything. 

I think this post is for you as well, you just may need to apply it to a different part of your life.

First, I would like to address the flaws and imperfections that come with being a passionate human being alongside devastating limitations.

Next, I want to offer a set of guidelines to help us cope with those limitations. 

By the end of this post, the guilt you once might have felt purchasing non-ethical items may disappear with the realization that you are trying to make the world a better place- a concept I expanded on in another post

We here at Purse & Clutch always want to make the best decisions with our money by purchasing ethical items like clothing, food, accessories, shoes, handbags…

And the list goes on.

But sometimes, there can be more than a couple of reasons why this is not a possibility in my own life:

  • My budget is limited.
  • Sometimes I find out that the dress I picked out for a wedding isn’t nice enough, and I only have one more afternoon to shop.
  • I’ve gained weight and last summer’s bathing suit doesn’t fit anymore, but the pool party is tomorrow!
  • Your daughter doesn’t want ethical shoes, she wants the popular designs that everyone else is wearing.
  • Just being worn out of making decisions and worrying about the consequences. Give me a bowl of ice cream already!

Eating a bowl of ice cream makes me feel guilty afterwards.

And now that I’m ethically and socially conscious of my purchasing decisions, so does buying from a big name brand that I absolutely know has a poor ethical policy.

I would love if we were all able to live completely limitless with no hindrances on our finances, opinions, schedules, or lifestyles.

But that’s not real life, most of the time. So what do we do with these limitations?

Think realistically about your lifestyle

Ask questions like: What are your limitations? What is feasible for you? What is not? 

In the case of the wedding I had coming up, I knew of a thrift store that carried designer dresses. In the past, I had luck finding the perfect dress and I figured I could get lucky again, if I tried at least once before giving up and buying from a big brand.

I happened to find an amazing dress I wore to two weddings and received plenty of compliments for.

Now, if I hadn’t found the perfect dress, I would have taken my shopping spree to a department store where the options are limitless and up to date designs are easy to find.

I knew my limitations, and I took my one opportunity. I knew that if I was unsuccessful, I would move onto a regular store.  

Fair Trade clothing has not made its way into the business professional clothing lines yet. If this is what is required of you for work, know that purchasing ethically in this area is a limitation. But this doesn’t mean you are limited in other areas, like in purchasing yourself a beautiful and professional handbag like this


find out what you ARE in control of

Having limits means the inability to control every aspect of your life.

But, this doesn’t mean we can’t try and exert some control over our attitudes, thoughts, or behaviors.

For example, your daughter, co-worker, or friend may not be interested in ethically purchased gifts for their birthday. But what if you modeled ethical choices for others? 

You can’t control someone’s response to your actions, but you can control your own choices. Reserve the right to judge, and instead model ethical choices in your own purchases. 

And lastly,

forgive yourself

Sometimes you just want that shirt from J.Crew, and other times you just want to eat that bowl of ice cream.

Just because you made one or many unethical purchases doesn’t mean you don’t care about people’s lives all over the world. 

It just means you are human and you have limits.  

These limits are what make us human, and our humanity demands that we keep trying to make the world a better place. 

No one is limitless by themselves; which is what brings me to my last point-

work through your limitations with a community

Purse & Clutch is helping those limited by their circumstances, their countries societal standards, or generational limitations. We aren’t able to help everyone, but with your purchases we are able to help a few.

I often find that my budget limits the amount of purchases I can make for my personal wardrobe. Thank goodness for friends who are sick of their clothes, because I get new clothes without dropping a dime on anything!

Don’t feel guilty when you can’t always make the perfect choice. 

Instead, embrace your values and limits, exert control over the stuff you can, find a community to fill the needs you can’t, and forgive yourself when you don’t get it just right.

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