Have you heard? Tomorrow is National Thrift Store Day. It's no secret that shopping secondhand is on trend – musical artist Macklemore knows this well. But before you take cues from the rapper for style's sake alone, know there's an even better reason for donning pre-loved threads: It's good for the environment.
In recent years, awareness has spread about the harmful effects of mass-produced clothing. Want to make a more eco-conscious buying decision? Shop secondhand.
Bad news about Big Textile
Big Textile – a name given to the mass-produced clothing industry – is the second largest polluter in the world, just on the heels of the oil industry. When you shop at "fast fashion" stores – retailers that sell low-quality, inexpensive clothes – you're contributing to the industry's negative environmental impact.
Since trends change quickly and many items are poorly produced, more than 15 million tons of textiles end up in the landfill each year. When this disposed clothing degrades or is burned, harmful CO2 emissions enter the atmosphere as the chemically treated, dyed and often synthetic fabric breaks down.
How do hand-me-downs help the Earth?
To help reduce textile pollution, donate your old clothes instead of tossing them in the trash. You're not limited to giving to a thrift store, though. Some stores – H&M, for example – offer garment collecting services for both gently and harshly used clothes. These garments are then recycled, used for resale or sent to those in need in third-world countries.
When you're ready to wear new threads, check out your local Goodwill, Salvation Army or neighborhood consignment shop instead of a department store. Who knows – you could end up scoring a vintage treasure.
Not convinced? Here are a couple more reasons to thrift:
- It's more affordable. When you shop secondhand, you'll see green – in more ways than one. Not only is it easy on the Earth, it is on your wallet, too.
- Your clothing will be unique. Flaunt your personal sense of style! Shopping secondhand is a good way to avoid that dreaded faux pas: showing up at a dinner party or event wearing the same shirt as your neighbor.
Secondhand shopping: There's an app for that
Gently used doesn't have to mean out of fashion. While many brick-and-mortar thrift stores carry trendy pieces, you can also buy consignment clothes right from your phone, tablet or computer.
Check out these companies that are transforming the way we buy secondhand:
- thredUP: Self-proclaimed the "largest online consignment and thrift store," thredUP sells pre-loved clothing and accessories for women and kids. Plus, when you need to get rid of old clothes, you can send what you don't wear to the company. If it accepts your items, you'll be compensated.
- Poshmark: Similar to thredUP, Poshmark allows you to get rid of your old clothes and potentially make money at the same time. The company features goods from top designers for a fraction of the price.