In a world where fashion trends change quickly, fast fashion can be appealing. What you may not realize is that every time you reach for those new and cheap pieces over thrift shop pieces to add to your wardrobe, you are contributing to the harm that the fashion industry does to our environment. Thrift shops promote the reuse of textiles and should be getting more praise for what they are able to offer consumers.
To put it quite simply, producing fast fashion depletes resources. When we typically think about impacts to the environment, we like to think of only the most obvious culprits, while the harm that the clothing production industry does to our environment is often forgotten. Even though it may not seem like a single piece of clothing makes a big difference, the production of a single t-shirt uses around 2,700 liters of water. Additionally, the textile production industry adds to their hefty carbon footprint by using around 1,074 billion KWh of electric annually.
The harm to our planet doesn't stop there. With the production of fast fashion items, consumers are able to purchase even more clothing at lower prices. But what happens when those clothing items go out of style or the owner simply tires of them? They typically get thrown away, furthering the harm that has already happened during the production of the item by going on to take up residency in a landfill. But when people make the decision to donate and shop at thrift shops instead, this cycle of harm is reduced.
Thrift shops also have impacts beyond the environment. Not only does fast fashion come with all of the terrible ecological effects, but it also plays a part in creating terrible work environments. Part of what makes fast fashion so cheap is the labor used to produce the items. These clothing items are almost always produced overseas in large factories where they can get away with treating their laborers horrendously. The employees of such factories face hot and cramped conditions that are less than favorable. The less fast fashion products that we buy as a society, the less demand there will be and, thus, the demand for cheap labor will also decrease.
By supporting thrift shops instead of fast fashion, you support a more socially just workforce. According to their website, in 2017 alone, Goodwill was able to employ 288,000 people. Many of those employed have some sort of disadvantage in the workforce. Without support in the form of sales and donations, these people would otherwise find themselves without employment. Goodwill is committed to providing the support needed for their employees to be successful. Many other thrift shops have similar missions. When you shop at thrift shops, you are helping these companies support their employees.
By making the decision to shop at thrift shops for clothing you can help break these harmful trends.
There is such a negative stigma surrounding the idea of wearing used clothing. People associate thrift shops with a low social class. That's quite a silly stigma if you ask me. Thrift shops offer so many great solutions in the world of fashion. Even if none of the above reasons inspire you to head to your local thrift shop, the prospect of unique fashion finds at a low cost should. Thrift shops are like a treasure trove when it comes to finding pieces that no one else will have. You can fill your closet with pieces that are not only fun to look at, but also didn't cost you a fortune. When you choose a thrift shop over a fast fashion retailer, you make a choice that saves not only the environment but your wallet as well, making thrift shops the superior choice when it comes to fashion.