We don’t need to tell you why thrift shopping is awesome (if you’re reading this blog or frequent our stores, you already know!), but many dedicated thrifters aren’t aware how wide-ranging the benefits of secondhand shopping can be. Beyond offering unique finds, customized style options, and unbeatable prices, thrift shopping is an excellent way to cut back on your personal carbon footprint, and as we all know, every little bit counts. So if you’re looking for more ways to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle, here’s how thrifting helps:
Sparing the landfill
According to the 2015 sustainable fashion documentary The True Cost, the average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year. Much of that isn’t biodegradable, meaning it’s destined to release harmful gases into the air while it takes 200 years or more to decay. Thrift stores, consignment shops and charities are a great option for people looking to clear their closets with a clear conscience, and buying secondhand keeps all the plastic, metal and paper packaging associated with retail shopping out of landfills as well.
Bypassing dirty factories
In addition to requiring significant energy and water resources for production, textile manufacturing is a dirty business:
- Nylon and polyester production creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
- To make rayon, wood pulp (from clear-cutting forests) is treated with hazardous chemicals like caustic soda and sulfuric acid.
- Just because cotton comes from plants doesn’t mean it’s all-natural to manufacture. Cotton is the most pesticide-intensive crop in the world.
- Bleaching, dyeing, and finishing fabrics require harsh chemicals that easily end up in nearby water sources, along with the production-related chemicals and toxic byproducts listed above.
Buying secondhand means enjoying fashion without guilt.
Reducing transportation pollution
Considering that US-based firms are held to strict environmental and labor standards, it’s no surprise that about 97% of all clothes sold in the US are imported from abroad. Until there’s a zero-emissions revolution within the global transportation industry, every piece of new retail clothing will be connected to a long, dirty footprint of oil consumption and air pollution via truck, rail, or cargo ship. Buying thrift instead of retail doesn’t erase that connection—the damage is already done—but it removes you from the supply/demand equation.
Hope on the fashion horizon
As highlighted in The True Cost, there is a growing movement among some top clothing designers—including such notables as Stella McCartney and Ralph Lauren—to reform the fashion into a non-polluting, 100% sustainable industry. But until you can be sure that adorable department store dress has an environmentally innocent history, your best bet for maintaining a high-fashion, low-carbon-footprint lifestyle is patronizing shops like Thrift Trader and other troves of vintage and secondhand treasure.
Come check out one of our two Thrift Trader locations in North Park and Ocean Beach. Don’t forget to bring your own clothes to trade during our buying hours: 10am-6pm daily.