I used to be an avid worshiper of fast fashion — a pair of denim shorts for $10? Such a good deal. But the more fast fashion I bought, the more I noticed the cheapness and the quality of the clothing. T-shirts were holey in months. Jeans became frayed after a few wears. Sunglasses broke in half within a few weeks.
At first, I brushed off these faults as nothing more than bad luck. But the rips, the cracks and the holes continuously appeared. And finally, some small part in my brain thought, "What if it's because these clothes are so badly produced?"
What a revolutionary thought. As such, I began to notice the material of the clothing (all man-made, thin and easily tearable fabrics) and the location where this clothing was produced (mostly third-world countries where workers are paid next to nothing). And that small part in my brain thought, "What can I do to fix this?"
I'll admit it — at first, the destruction of the environment through fast fashion wasn't the sole reason I decided to stop buying cheap clothes. I was also conscious of the limits of my bank account, and I knew that buying a multitude of low-priced clothing wouldn't help fatten my wallet.
But ultimately, the combination of finance, environment and workers rights convinced me to buy quality and secondhand.
By buying quality, I could be sure that I would be getting my money's worth. I could minimize pollution; after all, producing twenty jackets as opposed to one would probably hurt our environment more. And although the initial investment would be high, the end result would be well worth it. I would also be supporting businesses where I knew each employee was being paid fairly, rather than helping large corporations underpay workers living in third world countries.
By buying secondhand, I could be sure that I was getting the best deals and that both I and my wallet would be happy. I wasn't contributing to the destruction of our environment through producing more and more goods; instead, I was purchasing pre-made and pre-worn clothing. I could physically feel and observe the material of the clothing and judge its quality, and I was confident (at least at the thrift stores I shopped at) that my money was going towards a good cause.
America is a country built on consumerism and materialism. Large corporations, particularly those in the fashion industry, seem to have no regrets for the destruction of our environment. Therefore, it's up to individual customers to make a difference in improving our world. By buying quality and secondhand, I vow to save our planet, one shirt at a time.