A Guide to Saving the World Through What You Wear
What is secondhand shopping?
Secondhand clothes shopping has grown in interest over the past few years, maybe due to Macklemore’s song, “Thrift Shop,” or a growing number of nostalgic hipsters. Regardless, secondhand shopping is taking off, and it is changing the world.
Secondhand shopping can include anything from thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, or even consignment shops. Most of the businesses affiliated with these labels have a “do good” focus, or give consumers the option to sell their clothes, as well. Examples include Buffalo Exchange on the West Coast, Plato's Closet and Crossroads Trading.
What are the benefits for consumers?
For starters, thrift shopping and buying more sustainable, eco-friendly clothing is becoming more accepted as a fashion statement. For instance, celebrities like Emma Watson and Pharell Williams are open supporters. Williams actually owns his own eco-friendly line, called Bionic Yarn.
Although some items can get pricey, the higher cost is usually because they are fair trade, which means that the retailer has made sure those making the clothes are being paid fairly, have adequate living arrangements, and aren’t being held as slaves.
Paying more for quality can feel like a burden on the wallet, but it will be worth it in the end. Clothes that are made sustainably are usually made to last longer. Maybe decide on buying two new ethical items of clothing in one month instead of 10 non-ethical pieces. Making a small sacrifice like that now will be worth it later.
Dressing a little differently and making a human rights statement through your clothing can be a confidence booster. The attention and questions your style attracts can also start conversations and help create awareness. People see clothing as a sense of identity, and by changing little parts of your wardrobe to be ethical, you’re making a commitment to showing others it’s easier than it looks.
" The attention and questions your style attracts can also start conversations and help create awareness. "
What are the benefits worldwide?
Recycling clothing can also be considered eco-fashion, which is good for environmental sustainability (reducing, reusing, and recycling). Consumers don’t always realize that a lot of clothing is made with harsh chemicals to create synthetic fibers and dyes for bleaching clothes. Sometimes, even cotton can have chemicals. By not buying these clothes, you are helping by leaving less of a carbon footprint, which can be crucial when trying to save the environment. Brands, like Patagonia and Alternative Apparel, work hard to making sure their clothing is fair trade, and doing the research before you buy can make a world of difference. A full list can be found here.
Secondhand shopping also helps other people. By purchasing fair trade, you are giving less money to companies that make their clothing through slave labor or that don’t give their employees proper wages or benefits. Paying a little bit more now can make sure that someone else is living a better life later.
Becoming more knowledgeable about small things that can make a big difference is what Dressember is all about. Stocking up on dresses for a month of awareness can seem fun, but knowing where clothing items come from can make just as big of a difference.
So next time there is a cute dress you just have to get, try and think, “Who made this?” and put that clothing line to the test. Smart shopping is key, and consumers can make a world of difference.
About the Author
Miranda Lintzenich is an analog girl stuck in a digital world. A little quirkier than most, Miranda enjoys 70s music, odd clothing styles, working at her school newspaper and serving pizza on the side