Did you know that thrifting can save the planet?
Oppose Fast Fashion
Pardon my french, but frick fast fashion! For those of you unfamiliar with the term, fast fashion is basically the fast food of clothes. Companies have trendy clothes made incredibly quickly, using incredibly cheap materials, and sell them dirt cheap in stores like Forever 21 and Zara.
You know what that means, right? Sweatshops! While I know there isn’t really any ethical consumption under capitalism, gosh darnit I just cannot stand the thought of giving money to a company that uses sweatshop labor.
Learn more about fast-fashion here. For a quick run-down, the workers in sweatshops are often severely underpaid and work in hazardous conditions with hazardous materials. The factories they work in often have little to no regulations in place to protect them, and the waste that the factories produce is often dumped directly into the environment.
Where we spend our money matters, even if it doesn’t seem like it does. These days, money is support. ‘Show your support for X, Y, and Z by donating now!,’ right? We “need” money to “support” ourselves and our families; we “need” it to buy homes, food, clothes, practically everything. (Well, people don’t really need money, but that’ll be a whole other post.)
Even if we don’t actually like or support sweatshop labor, spending money on fast-fashion directly feeds into the demand for more destructive sweatshop labor and rewards companies for exploiting and abusing workers and killing the planet while they’re at it.
Buying secondhand goods is an option for buying without your money going to sweatshops. However, keep in mind that big, corporate thrift stores have been known to exploit workers, too!
More ethical stores and brands often have higher prices, which is awesome if that company respects the employees, offers living wages, and sells/uses sustainable and ethically sourced goods and materials. But unfortunately, the higher price can leave lower income people with few options in their price range.
Locally owned thrift stores offer a wonderful alternative to buying fast fashion, or spending more money on ethical goods. While they’re affordable, shopping at thrift stores has unfortunately been stigmatized.
There’s good news though! The people who look down on shopping at thrift stores are usually wealthier, privileged, and biased against the poor. So really, who cares what some rich brat thinks? I don’t know about you, but I dress for myself, not for other people.
That being said, how we present ourselves is still pretty darn important. Sure, we may dress for ourselves, but it still says a lot about who we are and what our role is in society.
Secondhand shops aren’t always designer labels, they’re often unique blends of everything under the sun! Choosing clothes that we like regardless of whether or not it’s a brand name isn’t just rejecting upper-middle class values; it allows for more authentic freedom of expression through personal style.
Plus, buying from local thrift stores and independent sellers is a great way to support real people and not big, destructive corporations!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
We already talked about how thrifting can reduce the demand for fast fashion, and how thrifting helps small businesses, but did you know that it’s also great for the planet?
Think about all the clothes in a thrift store. If they weren’t donated, where do you think they’d be?
But they’re not! Being in a thrift store keeps them out of landfills, though it’s not very practical unless they find a new home. Whether it’s clothes to wear, or for a project(like making a scarecrow!), it’s still loads better than if it were buried in a landfill or burned.
Not only that, but synthetic fabrics shed microfibers while worn and while being laundered. The microfibers are too small to be collected with a filter, and are released into the environment. Oh, yeah, and they’re non-biodegradable(they are plastic, after all.)
Don’t forget about all the lingering chemicals that get put into fabrics to make them wrinkle, water, and odor resistant! Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can do about the clothes that have already been produced. The least we can do is get them locally so that they weren’t produced in vain, right?
Quality and Quantity
It’ll take a lot to stop the big corporations destroying our planet. It seems like they’ll stop at nothing to earn a profit. So, what do we do?
We stop giving them what they want! Enough people boycotting fast fashion might just be able to make a difference. If those companies stop making money then they’ll be forced to change. Plus, if they see the consumer trend in eco-consciousness, they’re likely to start being more eco-conscious in order to get more customers. Or at least we can hope so.
So, until the greed machine is taken down once and for all, I’ll be doing all that I can to shop locally and buy secondhand, and I sure hope you will too!
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