Why Thrifting Is The Ultimate Way To Save the Earth
Make thrift shopping great again; or wait, is it already the cool thing to do? Save the planet and your wallet by investing in *limited* edition pieces and enjoying the process!
“It’s live. IT’S LIVEEE!!” As I shriek at my friends, I furiously start hitting the refresh button on my favourite Instagram store. After setting multiple alarms and gathering some of my closest friends, I’m not about to miss out on scoring a jacket that’s about to become my new winter staple.
If your Instagram isn’t bombarded with thrift stores on the Discover page, then you might just be missing out on something that could change life as you know it. Thrift stores have become crazy popular during the pandemic, and they’re definitely here to stay. The pandemic made people more eco-conscious, aware, and thrifty, so it’s no surprise that buying pre-loved clothes became fashionable. Thrifting has become the new ‘cool,’ and is the way to a greener planet and fuller wallet. But should you jump on this bandwagon?
SHEIN reportedly releases anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 articles of clothing per day and is today the largest fashion retailer. An average ‘trending’ clothing item on SHEIN is available for up to 90 days, after which it’s replaced. And who ends up buying these clothes? People like you and me, as a Business of Fashion report reveals that Gen Z loves spending more money on fashion as compared to other entertainment streams (dining, video games, music, and beauty).
We’ve heard the consequences of fast fashion for years, yet the appeal to buy trendy clothing has not lessened. An industry that is known to be one of the biggest waste generators with no regard to environmental policies, where workers are exposed to dangerous working conditions, there are many concerning aspects to fast fashion. But thrift shopping online (and offline) could possibly revolutionise shopping as we know it, and for good too.
Fast Fashion is Not Cool Anymore
You’ve watched the latest Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter fashion shows, and you’re feeling inspired. Or you’ve seen a celebrity vacationing on some exotic island and just need to have those beach-inspired looks. But there’s always a budget to think about, and being fashionable comes at a cost. Fast fashion is inherently designed to fit our budgets, lifestyle, and, more importantly, current trends.
. Fashion is one of the biggest polluters, and the amount of waste generated each year (around 92 million tonnes) is still increasing. Where does that put you and me? We could be facing a real waste crisis, and it’s already been seen in places like Ghana, where second-hand clothing from the West is contributing to 4,000 tonnes of waste every day.
I am, like most people, guilty of shopping at a store where the deals just seem unbelievable, but there’s one thing I’m not guilty of, and that’s throwing away clothes. Whether I upcycle them, give them to my friends, or even if they end up as cleaning rags, repurposing is always better than discarding them.
Preserve and Protect
Limited drops put the thrill in thrifting, and no, there’s no pun intended. Limited edition clothing items make most people desperate to get them. You know there are only a few, and you can’t sit around waiting for them to fly off the shelf. But with fast fashion, you don’t have to worry about the clothing being unavailable, after all, there’s more where it came from. Throwaway (fast) fashion isn’t just draining natural resources; it’s ruining how we view fashion as an industry.
SHEIN today ships to 150+ countries, and it’s sobering to think about the emissions from t transporting items throughout the world. Even worse, returns mostly end up in landfills since it’s the cost-efficient thing to do. Putting clothing returns back in circulation costs more for companies, according to Sustainability Management Software firm Rio AI.
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‘Greenwashing’ Fashion Brands
The ban that the Indian government put on Chinese apps may be problematic for all sorts of reasons, but there was a silver lining. Fast fashion apps like SHEIN are being replaced with thrifting stores, and people are beginning to recognise the value of sustainability. But there’s another side that we need to talk about, and that’s how many fast fashion brands today are releasing conscious clothing lines in a bid to reinvent their image as being eco-friendly.
More often than not, you’ll find that these ‘sustainable’ lines are unsubstantiated by facts and numbers. They’ll tell you they’re eco-friendly, but are surprisingly vague about the production process, how the brand is aiding the sustainability movement, and so on. Jury is still out on whether these fashion brands are actually sustainable or just greenwashing their image to sway public opinion, and that’s exactly why thrifting is a fail-safe alternative to turn to.
What Should You Be Thrifting?
While you can find pretty much everything under the sun at thrift stores, it’s always quality over quantity, and you need to be smart about your thrifting choices. Some great things you can find that are pre-loved include:
- Baby clothes: Babies only fit into clothes for a few months before outgrowing them. Finding the right clothes through thrifting is an extremely economical way to welcome a new family member.
- Shoes: Most shoes that you’ll find at thrift stores tend to be barely worn, so you could probably get away with buying them and wearing them for a few years.
- Trending clothes: Clothes that are in trend tend to be worn fast and discarded even quicker. You can find many types of clothing that are ‘in trend’ but barely worn.
- Limited edition items: Spotted a jacket that you know is one of a few? Thrifting is a great way to find items that aren’t in production anymore, and you know you’ll be one of the few who gets to own them.
As a general rule, if you’re planning on buying lingerie or undergarments from thrift stores, you have to check how worn out they are. They have to be cleaned meticulously, and might be more trouble than they’re worth, and the same goes for sportswear. Finding natural materials like cotton, silk and wool is ideal, since they’ll last longer and offer more breathability. Most items you see in thrift stores are one-of-a-kind, as they don’t have the option to produce their own clothing.
The Thrift Store Shopping Guide
Fashion can make or break friendships, as I found out when one of my friends snagged my coveted jacket and refused to hand it over. Having a catalogue of thrift stores to go to when your friend betrays you (or you’re just looking to find some cool stores) is essential. Here are some stores that are worth checking out: