I'm No Longer Buying First Hand Clothes; Here's Why
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
Hi there, it's Eden here. I made a huge change to how I shop and here is a little insight behind my decision!
Have you ever wondered why clothes and accessories from Zara, Forever 21, Uniqlo and many other stores like them are so cheap?
About a year ago I first gained a little insight about how bad the fast fashion industry is. I have always considered myself as someone who cares about the environment; the fast fashion's industry's impact on our planet was one of the many things that caught my eye about the industry.
The fashion industry produces a huge portion of the clothes many of us wear everyday. While producing these clothes, it contributes devastating pollution on almost every level. From the pesticides that are sprayed on cotton plants, to the carbon emissions which are a product of each garment's shipment around the world the fashion industry has a devastating effect on the environment.
Did you know that it takes 1,800 gallons of water to make a pair of jeans? For reference, the average person is advised to drink a half gallon of water each day.
The production of garments also affects the communities in which they are produced. "It is estimated that 70 percent of Asia's rivers and lakes are contaminated by the 2.5 billion gallons of wastewater produced by that continent's textile industry" according to Eco Watch. The contamination is causing a public health crisis that is affecting so many.
Unfortunately, there are so many more problems I discovered while researching, but another problem that stuck out to me was the way that garment workers are treated. Sweatshop wages can be so low that workers barely have enough money to cover their essential expenses, such as food and shelter. Some people work for as little as 3 US cent per hour according to an article from The World Counts. Not to mention, they often work more than 100 hours per week in conditions of poor air quality and extreme heat.
The buildings which house the sweatshops are often not taken care of, and in many cases are unsafe. In 2013 a sweatshop collapsed in Bangladesh which resulted in a death toll of over 1,000 according to BBC. I want the clothes I wear to have nothing to do with the environmental destruction, exploitation of others, and preventable deaths that come with the fast fashion industry.
Clearly fast fashion companies need to make a change. But, that is not happening fast enough; I have to make the change myself.
This summer I decided I will not be buying any clothing unless it is sustainable, made by fairly paid workers, or second hand.
Sustainable fashion is often very expensive. Clothes made in a sustainable, eco friendly manner are much more expensive to produce. But the quality of such clothing far exceeds the quality of fast fashion retail. Not only is sustainable fashion an investment into sustainable and fair practices, but it is also an investment into your closet. Go to the end of this post to find a link to sustainable brands!
However, I buy the majority of my clothing second hand. Goodwill is an excellent place to do so. During Covid-19 I have been unable to try clothing on at Goodwill before I buy it. But, if you are handy with a sewing machine you can easily alter pieces you love to fit you better. I highly recommend bringing a mask, gloves, handsanitizer and a huge bag if you go. I also recommend washing and drying all items before you try them on at home.
Other local thrift stores are an excellent option as well. They tend to be more curated so it is more likely that you will find items in your size that you like without having to alter them at home! I highly recommend shopping at local thrift stores, because in doing so you are supporting a small business.
The final way I buy clothes is through Depop. Depop is very similar to Ebay, but it is built in the same format as instagram, which makes it much easier to scroll and find the things you like. The large majority of sellers on Depop are teens, and as a result the clothes are very trendy and cute. I have bought three pairs of shoes, three swimsuits, and a pair of pants from Depop, all which fit me perfectly. Depop is the perfect place to find really nice and unique items without having to go anywhere. It has a huge selection of clothes, but I mainly use it for other things, such as accessories or shoes as they are harder to find at thrift stores in my size.
I hope this post was helpful. For more information you can check out these links!
Go Here to learn more about the sweatshop collapse in Bangladesh with a death toll of 1,132.
Go Here to learn about the problems with fast fashion companies' "recycling programs".
Go Here to find some sustainable brands.