High quality clothes, cheap prices, and a sustainable industry; we can have it all, and the key to it is used clothing. We are constantly bombarded by sales and advertisements to buy, buy, buy but this type of consumption is not sustainable.
Forbes magazine stated that the fashion industry is responsible for 4% of the world’s waste each year, or 92 million tons. Our society is built on the profit from industries that promote massive consumption. We are buying poorly made clothing that we don’t need and that doesn’t last, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Forced by a younger generation that demands a more balanced and environmentally responsible industry, many clothing producers have already started to change. The Global Citizen stated, “the goal, ultimately, is for the fashion industry to become ‘circular’ through improved recycling methods, minimizing its environmental impact in the process...getting to circular will require many steps including technological innovation and retraining consumers to take back their clothing instead of sending it to the landfill.” A circular clothing industry means that once a piece of clothing has reached its end, it will be remade into a new piece of clothing and the cycle will continue.
Many major brands are doing their part by offering their customers a way to turn in used clothing for a profit or store credit and these items are then resold at a discounted price. Patagonia is a massive brand that produces high quality clothing that is made to last. They have created “Worn Wear” which sells their used clothes online at discounted prices. Other companies like REI and North Face also offer similar programs to their customers. Rewiring an entire industry will take time, but there are steps that we can individually do to help in the meantime.
If you have old clothes that you want to get rid of, there are many ways to clean out your closet without throwing them in the trash. Donating clothes is a great way to keep clothes out of landfills as well as help other people in your community. There are many places to donate like the Salvation Army as well as other organizations that are easy to find with a quick google search.
When donating clothes it is important to remember to only send those that are in good condition or else they can’t be used. If clothes are too beat up, they can be recycled and repurposed into other goods. Recycle Where is a handy online organization that finds places where you can drop off old, worn out clothes.
If clothes that are lightly worn and still in good quality need to be donated, selling clothes gives you access to a massive market and it is easier than ever to profit from it. Sites like Poshmark, ThreadUP, Ebay, and many others allow people to sell or send in clothes within a secure site.
If we really want to influence the clothing industry we have to change how we purchase clothes. The Global Citizen stated, “the best thing you can do is buy less and higher quality clothes.” By doing this, clothes will last longer because they are made of quality materials and the clothing industry will be forced to make changes because they must appeal to the consumer. According to an article posted by the World Economic Forum, “In the last 15 years the industry has doubled production, while the time clothing is worn before it is thrown away has fallen by around 40%. When it is thrown away, 73% will be burned or buried in a landfill.” We asked for a constant supply of cheap clothes and the industry complied.
As college students, it is hard to buy higher quality clothes because with that comes a higher price tag. Buying used allows individuals to purchase clothes that will last without having to break the bank. Thrift shopping gives old clothes a new life and continues to gain popularity because of the desire for vintage clothing.
Buying used clothes saves money, rehomes clothing, and has a positive environmental impact. We have the power and it’s about time we realize it and reinvent how we shop for clothes.