I can't say I'm a big shopper, but I'll admit that every once in a while, it's nice to give my closet a revamp. But let's be honest, how often do we really wear-out our clothes, shoes, and accessories before we get rid of them? Hardly ever, right?
So, we go shopping and buy new things to replace the old things that really aren't that old in the first place. But change is nice, and sometimes shopping therapy is a real thing.
How can we fulfill our shopping urges while being less wasteful? The answer is buying used/secondhand clothing. Some people cringe at the idea of walking into a thrift store and having to comb through aisles and aisles of mix-matched clothing, apparel, and accessories for hours until they MAYBE find one thing that catches their eye... other people love the hunt!
But when you know the facts about the environmental impact of our shopping habits, even the least thrift-store-loving shopper would think twice before buying new again.
Let me try and convince you to consider buying second-hand and count down the top 3 reasons to stop wasting your money on brand new clothing!
3. WE HAVE ENOUGH STUFF
I bet if you walk around your house/apartment, you could find plenty of items that you don't use or need anymore. Some of those things might've NEVER been used. We have enough stuff... more than enough. Instead of throwing these items away, you might as well donate them. And then you can turn around and buy items that other people have barely used and thoughtfully donated.
There's more than enough "stuff" to go around. Buying secondhand is an easy way to help cut down on consumption. However, there are some things that you just need to buy new... like intimates and undergarments. But we have more than enough stuff, so when you get that urge to shop for new things that you just want and don't need, why not make a more eco-friendly choice?
2. REDUCING MATERIAL, ENERGY, & WATER USE
This comes back to the idea of reducing consumption. We love to use and consume... but being so wasteful takes its toll on the planet. When you buy new items, such as clothing, we don't often consider the materials and energy that went into producing those goods.
Behind the paper and oil industries, the clothing industry is the third largest consumer of water worldwide. Producing a single t-shirt can use 2,650 liters of water, while a pair of jeans can use 6,800 liters. Think of all the water that would have been needed to produce the clothing in your closet right now...
The global annual textile production is approximately 60 billion kilograms of fabric. It's estimated that it would take 1,047 billion kWh of electricity to produce that quantity of fabric.
Its okay if you're jaw-dropped at the moment.
1. WASTE DIVERSION
So it's great to buy used clothing... you're cutting down on the use of virgin materials, and reducing energy and water use! But in order for you to buy secondhand clothes, someone had to donate them first. And donating is a MUCH better way to clear out your closet than throwing things away and sending them to a landfill.
More people need to realize this, I guess, since each year North Americans are sending 12 million tonnes of textiles to landfills (another jaw-drop-moment). This number is especially depressing considering an estimated 95% of this could be reused or recycled.
And what happens to that clothing once it's in the landfill?? It will slowly decompose, releasing methane... which is one of those really bad greenhouse gases that is contributing to our little climate change problem. Also, the dyes and chemicals from the clothing will then leach into the soil and groundwater, which isn't good for wildlife or for us. Lose-Lose situation.
I'm not saying you're a bad person if you buy new clothing on the regular (but you kind of are!). These facts and stats should be upsetting to anyone. I think buying secondhand is a great way to minimize your environmental impact, and it's also a really easy change to make! PLUS you'll save money, which is always nice. And you can feel good about helping out your community since many thrift stores are also charitable.
It's basically a Win-Win-Win-Win scenario.
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Stay green! xox