By Jack Hornsby
Thrifting is a fun thing for anyone to do, and you can get some really cool outfits for a much cheaper price than buying new. The benefits of thrifting go beyond just your wallet and wardrobe, thrifting is actually good for the earth! Today we’ll be talking about the benefits of buying used goods and how that ties into the overall theme of shopping smarter in the ecological sense of things.
Benefits of thrifting
Thrifting has a ton of benefits, some more easily seen than others. As I was talking about earlier, as an individual you can get some really great outfits for really cheap! That said, just getting a new outfit isn’t even close to being the best thing about thrifting in my eyes. A study from 2018 showed that the clothing industry is responsible for about 4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions every single year. That statistic covers everything from Gucci flip flops, to plain white T-shirts from Costco.
Now, I’m not saying that buying new clothing is evil, or bad, or negative, I mean everyone needs to have clothes. What i am saying is that the fashion industry actually has a massive impact on the earth and its environment. “Stores like Forever 21, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and basically any other big clothing retailer you can think of all fall into the category of fast fashion, which is the rapid mass production of super cheap clothing” - the price may be right but the environmental costs are extremely high. A lot of times people will associate someone’s carbon footprint with something like leaving electronics on when they’re not using them, or driving to work every day, but the truth is all of the products that people buy and use on a daily basis are part of their carbon footprint.
Thrifting ties into this because, in a way, it’s a form of recycling. Instead of buying new clothes, you’re reusing old ones that would otherwise have been thrown away therefore reducing the carbon footprint that you would have had from buying new clothes! This helps prevent clothing from ending up in our landfills.
What is shopping smarter?
Shopping smarter is an idea of basically putting your money where your mouth is. A cause that we’re constantly championing here at the Green Living Blog is to be environmentally conscious when doing anything in life, whether that be from using less water/energy to reducing emissions. Shopping smarter in these terms means shopping in a way that reduces your own carbon footprint and has less environmental consequences- thrifting is a great example of that because it’s essentially recycling clothes that would have otherwise gone to waste. thrifting is actually a perfect example of what I mean when I talk about shopping smarter.
The fashion industry has dramatically changed in the last century. People once bought one nice jacket, a good pair of shoes and other quality clothing and would make it last a lifetime. Now, people’s closets are filled to the brim, we can go through our closets twice a year and donate full garbage bags of clothing- the quantity of clothing has increased but the quality has significantly decreased.
I have one friend that absolutely loves thrift shopping- it became more of a lifestyle transition than just going to find clothes she needs. The way she sees it, “every piece of an article has a story.” That story can come from the clothing’s production and shipping process to who the previous owner was before- maybe that one jacket lived through the 50s and has seen some crazy times. When speaking with her, she mentioned that she uses thrift shopping as a way to clean out her closet as well. There are many stores that take donated clothes, will buy your clothes back or will exchange articles of clothing. This is a fantastic way to clean out your closet. Part of living an environmentally conscious lifestyle is going back to the simple things- thinking in terms of a minimalist lifestyle, having what you need and not what you want. Being more mindful about what is in your closet will not only spice up your wardrobe, but have incredible environmental benefits as well!
How can you shop smarter?
Thankfully, there are almost endless ways to shop smarter, and you as a consumer can choose whichever ones fit your lifestyle! I wish i was an absolute saint, and only wore thrifted clothing, ate food that was grown completely organically, and only supported businesses with a net zero carbon footprint, but that’s kind of unrealistic in my lifestyle.So, as a relatively normal person, who is inclined to live a lifestyle that reduces my carbon footprint as much as i can without going crazy with it, what do i do?
Well, the answer is a lot of little things! One of the biggest things that I look for while shopping is to find local brands. Shipping products across the world has a pretty big environmental impact. Transit emissions are something that are surprisingly relevant in the carbon footprint of the products we buy, and is also something that an informed consumer can avoid without too much effort.
Another big thing in shopping smarter that I touched on a bit earlier is buying and using recycled goods. We all know the benefits of recycling, and buying pre used goods is good in the exact same way that recycling metals cans or plastics is!
My final tip is to investigate the brands that you give your money to. Make sure that any brand that you actively support is in line with your ideals, and hopefully does their part in reducing their carbon footprint. Supporting eco friendly brands is really one of the best ways to shop smarter in an environmentally focused sense of the phrase. Supporting these businesses helps them expand and continue with saving the environment.
Second hand shopping is one of many great solutions to help make a positive environmental impact and help combat the growing fashion industry. We all need clothes and we all want to have the latest and greatest, but thrifting helps you find those quality pieces that speak to you. They are far more unique to your style and personality, they hold great stories, and they are cost efficient- I can buy triple at a thrift store than I could in any mall shop. Try not to throw any clothes away when you are done with them- they can be donated, reused, and live for far longer instead of ending up in a landfill.
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