The blog post was guest written by Isaias Hernandez, the creator of Queer Brown Vegan, where he makes accessible environmental education content. As a Queer, Brown, and Vegan environmentalist, he seeks to provide a safe space for other like-minded environmentalists to engage in the discourse of the current climate crisis. You can follow him on any social media platform @queerbrownvegan.
Want to live more sustainably while on a budget? There are a variety of ways to live more sustainably and one of them starts in your own wardrobe. The oldest piece of clothing in your closet is probably the most sustainable piece you can ever own. Thrift shopping has existed for decades and it is best defined as the intent to shop for cheaper items such as clothing, glassware, or furniture that have been pre-owned. People who partake in thrifting find places such as flea markets, garage sales, and dedicated stores where they sell second-hand clothing. Thrifting provides many families and individuals access to clothing at an affordable price. The idea of thrifting creatively challenges individuals to celebrate older pieces that were formerly owned and find a new purpose for them. For many of us, clothing is deeply connected to our emotions, from how they make us feel to the memories we had wearing them, making thrift shopping an amazing way to spark new memories and emotions.
Many of us have probably shopped at a “Fast-Fashion” store before. Fast-fashion is known for producing clothing that is based on fashion trends, while exploiting garment workers. The demand for fast-fashion has created a global environmental injustice, with around 81 pounds of clothing thrown away yearly by the average American. On top of that, most clothes that are not accepted by thrift stores or organizations go directly to our landfills, which further degrades the Earth. Around 70% of clothing that is thrown in the garbage goes to landfill waste streams, while 30% of clothing is incinerated. While older clothes have slightly more organic materials and higher durability, fast-fashion clothes are made out of materials that are even bad for our own laundry machines! It was reported in a recent study that washing clothes made from fast-fashion companies creates an average of 9 million synthetic microfibers per wash load, which then enter our waterway treatment systems. These microfibers are forms of plastic that add to the microplastic pollution that enters our oceans and gets ingested by marine life. Ensuring that conservation efforts are being taken seriously from a coastal level, it’s also important to understand the environmental impacts we create in our daily lives. When it does come to cleaning out your closet, always make sure to repurpose your clothing in different ways before throwing it away, especially since older clothes are great to upcycle into things around the house, like a table cloth or towel. As conscious consumers and environmentalists, we can shift our mindset to live more equitably and environmentally aware by choosing second-hand pre-loved clothing.
Redesigning your purchasing habits from fast-fashion to thrifting is a great step to live more sustainably. You can search for a variety of clothing styles, but you also have the opportunity to stumble upon vintage clothes that are no longer made. When washing and taking care of older pieces of clothing, it’s important that you do research beforehand, to ensure that you don’t wash certain pieces in hot water or use harsh detergents that leave behind patches. I use Dropps whenever I do laundry since it is plant-based and more eco-friendly than standard detergents. Dropps Sensitive Skin detergent pods are formulated with no dyes, no enzymes, and no chlorine so it’s not only safe for sensitive skin but it can be used on the most delicate fabrics.
If you are feeling inspired to live more eco-friendly and try out second-hand shopping, here are some great online apps that are a great place to start!
- Depop (https://www.depop.com/)
- ThredUp (https://www.thredup.com/)
- Poshmark (https://poshmark.com/)
- Tradesy (https://www.tradesy.com/)
- Facebook Marketplace (Support your local community)
- Patagonia Worn & Wear (https://wornwear.patagonia.com/)
- Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/?ref=lgo)
Thrifting is an adventure so don’t forget to bring your reusable tote bags if you’ll be shopping in person as you’ll find many hidden treasures.