Why Shopping Resale is Good for Our Planet
The following article is an excerpt from: https://serc.berkeley.edu/why-thrifting-is-good-for-the-planet-not-just-your-wallet/
- Less clothing in landfills. Americans alone throw away about 10.5 million tons of clothing every year. It wasn’t always like this. Less than 100 years ago clothing used to be a big investment. In the 1950s people spent about 20 percent of their income on clothes. People would buy a few items of clothing per year and would take extremely good care of them to make sure they lasted as long as possible. Today, the opposite is true. The fashion industry is moving faster than ever. Instead of putting out new clothes and designs four times a year like they used to, retailers are putting out new clothes every single week. The amount of clothing produced has dramatically increased while clothing prices and quality have gone down. We are buying four times as much clothing as we used to but are spending 17 percent less because we buy clothes that quickly fall apart or goes out of style (or both), and so we throw them in the trash and buy something new. Studies have shown that 60 percent of the clothes made worldwide are made from synthetic materials (e.g. polyester, nylon, acrylic) a.k.a. plastic. When thrown away, they often sit in landfills for hundreds of years, if not forever. Buying secondhand means you’ll be keeping plastic out of landfills and positively contributing to the decrease in worldwide textile demand and subsequent waste.
- Less resources used and wasted. You may not believe me when I say this, but the pair of jeans you may be wearing right now took roughly 1,800 gallons of water to make. The production process of making one pair of jeans also generated greenhouse gases equivalent to driving over 80 miles. Similar numbers apply to tee shirts, skirts, and most other articles of clothing; this is much more energy and water intensive than what is commonly believed. Through thrifting, you keep the resources invested in all of these clothing items from going to waste.
- Less pollution. About 90 percent of the cotton grown for textiles is genetically modified, which means it is heavily reliant on pesticides. In fact, almost 20 percent of pesticide use worldwide is for use on cotton plants. These chemicals contaminate nearby water supplies and acidify the soil. The dyes used in the textile making process also pollute water supplies. They are often dumped directly into nearby rivers or lakes because this part of the process is often outsourced and carried out in underdeveloped countries where environmental regulations may not exist or be effectively enforced. Lastly, the production of the synthetic fabrics releases nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that is 310 times stronger than carbon dioxide. By switching to second hand shopping, the money you spend won’t go toward supporting an industry that is characterized by water and air pollution.
Simply switching to thrifting isn’t going to completely solve all of the problems within the fashion and textile industry, but it is one way we can work to minimize our own carbon footprints and make small steps towards a better future. If you are privileged enough to be able to choose between shopping at Urban Outfitters or Goodwill, I’d advise you to think about the planet and choose the latter.