by Jennifer Madison
Years ago, buying second hand clothing was nothing to be proud of. If you bought secondhand clothing, you were probably not able to afford buying new clothing. However, buying used clothing has become a new trend. Websites where you can purchase and even sell your clothing are popping up everywhere on the internet. This is an enormous opportunity to do good things for yourself, for the planet and for society.
I was never the type of person with twenty different pairs of shoes or purses at home. But I did buy new clothing and it never popped into my mind that I could get the same clothes with the same value for a much lower price and at the same time do my part to protect the environment. But then I discovered some great websites and everything changed when I bought a couple of used Hilfiger sweaters, ski pants and even two snowboards for a bargain price. The items were as good as new and I was so happy to have spent only between 10 and 20% of the actual price of those items.
Our current economic system is based on excessive consumption. Consumption is what keeps the economy alive and creates jobs. Thus, without consumption, we wouldn’t be able to have our Western lifestyle, at least not in the current system that can only be stable if we maintain our throwaway mentality.
It is common sense that unlimited growth on a planet with limited resources is not viable and certainly not sustainable. More and more people are realizing that and are willing to change their habits to show that throwing away and wasting resource can be limited if we only want to.
1. Saving the Environment
Buying secondhand clothing means you are going to reuse somebody else’s piece of clothing that may be in a perfectly good state but would land on some dumpster if you weren’t reusing it. And what’s unfit for someone else might not be unfit for you. Many pieces of clothing, especially those of a good quality, could survive decades if they are treated well. Unfortunately, many of us tend to throw away clothes after a year or two of wearing them because they have become unfashionable or don’t fit us anymore.
Producing clothing also requires the use of chemicals, for instance for the dyeing process. These chemicals pose a threat to the water, the air and the earth but also to the people working with those chemicals. By buying used clothing, we can reduce the impact on the planet.
2. Stop Exploitation of Poor Countries
Many of your clothes come from poor countries where people have to produce clothing for often more than 12 hours a day for very little money, only to be able to give their families enough food. Meanwhile in the industrialized countries, we are worried about which new coat and matching shoes we have to buy to look good this season. It is a disgusting paradox.
Buying second hand clothing will not immediately stop their working conditions but it will set a sign and make industries and the retail industry rethink their strategy. Consumers are the ones in power and they determine how the industries work. As soon as they change their habits, the industries will change too. And once the demand for new clothing from countries such as Bangladesh and India decreases, they too will be forced to change and work on their strategies.
3. Save Hundreds of Dollars
One great side effect of buying used clothing is the substantial amounts of money you can save. You can get clothing from top-notch brands at bargain prices, only because they were worn a couple of times and don’t appeal to their owner anymore. If you are a fashion victim, you will be able to buy so much more clothing than before and your wallet won’t even feel the difference.
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Get rid of your old clothing and get paid for it. Websites are popping up everywhere on which you can trade your used clothing for gift certificates for popular fashion stores.
4. Be Unique
Shopping for secondhand clothing will give you the advantage that you will find clothing that no one else has. You’ll be unique without putting much effort into it. We all know that fashion repeats itself and items that have been old-fashioned for decades are suddenly back in stores. So before buying the same pair of ballet pumps as all your girlfriends, go check out a secondhand shop and find a one-of-a-kind pair.
5. Real Vintage
And if you are looking for vintage clothing, you will be swarmed with variety in a secondhand shop which is often more authentic than new clothing with vintage style.
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Let’s be eco-friendly, put an end to the exploitation of sewers in poor countries, save tons of money, be unique and buy real vintage clothing. All of this can be done by buying secondhand clothing. It is one step towards a cleaner and socially responsible world. I invite all of you to that that step.