It’s a no brainer that fast fashion is bad. For the planet of course but also for the workers involved in this industry who get paid low wages, work extra long hours, are threatened physically and mentally and in some cases are minors.
While there’s definitely growing awareness on the impacts of the fashion and textile industry, the fast fashion model of consumption remains the predominant one across the globe which means that the environmental and social impacts it comes with are not slowing down anytime soon.
So what do you do ? On the pyramid of building yourself an eco friendly and ethical closet (which you can find here), you’ll notice that even before supporting brands with a purpose is the « buy vintage when possible » advice. That’s because the environmental benefits of buying pre-loved clothes are pretty significant (on top of saving money and looking unique of course) !
By buying clothes that belonged to someone else, you’re reducing both textile waste and over-production that are two of the biggest environmental footprints of the fashion industry.
Indeed, when shopping pre-loved, you’re saving a perfectly wearable item from entering landfills (chances are, if you bought it, it’s because you can wear it) where it would have been burnt or buried, releasing significant quantities of methane into the atmosphere, and participating as such to global warming. A study showed that by extending the lifespan of a garment by only a couple of months could lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints. JUST A FEW MONTHS !
Moreover, producing clothing and especially cheap clothing entails needing new resources such as cotton, petrochemical fibers, colors etc that come with a ton of harmful impacts, including pesticides, toxic dyes and even gree house gases during the transport phase.
But by buying used clothing, you’re saving those additional resources that put an extra stress on the Earth’s soils, water and atmosphere. And that’s something considering it’s often said that the fashion industry is the second most polluting on Earth. No need for new when you got plenty of old ! In these pics for instance, nothing was obtained first hand (except the jeans). The bag belonged to my mum, the sweater and coat come from second hand shops and the shoes from an online second hand shop!
Finally, you’re doing your small part to show the industry and consumers that there are alternatives to the now mainstream fashion business models that imply cheap clothing with a high social-environmental cost, and that’s perhaps the most important part.
Nowadays it’s still common to come across individuals who think that second hand fashion means smelly, unfashionable pieces that were thrifted in a grand-mother’s suitcase or at the back of a GoodWill shop that never sees a customer. By choosing to consume pre-loved, you’re showing them that this vision couldn’t be further from the truth and that there isn’t just one trendy fashion model.
Take the examples of those boots for instance. Scored in tip top shape on a french website that enables individuals who want to sell clothes to do so to interested shoppers, they cost me less than half of the original price and have been a huge hit to everyone around me. When asked where I got them from, I explain not only the transaction but also the thinking process and the militant approach behind it. You can not begin to imagine the reaction of surprise from my friends and colleagues. I’d say that 9 out of 10 have asked me the links to these second hand websites I shop on and this, for me, is a huge victory and a proof that buying new, cheap clothing isn't the only way to look unique and satisfy your fashion cravings!
What are your thoughts? Do you often buy pre loved fashion? Would love to hear about your experience!