Did you know that clothing production accounts for 20 to 35% of microplastic flows into the ocean and outweighs the carbon footprint of international flights and shopping combined? Unfortunately, we seem to underestimate the environmental impact of this industry. At the same time, the rate of manufacturing will continue to grow. Since the 1980s, fashion behaviour has leaned toward increased consumption. People used to buy few things with a long shelf life. Now, under the influence of short-term trends, people buy lots of new clothes that they are likely to discard – either because the items become worn out or they are no longer trendy.
So how should we shop to prevent the adverse environmental impact? Many companies are launching sustainable clothing lines made from recyclable materials. Nevertheless, it is the reduction of products and the new behaviour towards clothing that is important here. And one way to do it is thrifting.
How does it work? Instead of throwing clothes away, people donate them to second-hand shops where everyone can buy them at low prices. Thus thrifting not only saves you money but also decreases the demand for producing new items. By prolonging the circulation of clothes, thrift stores constitute a step toward combating climate change.
But how exactly does thrifting contribute to the environment? Firstly, second-hand shopping saves and conserves natural resources: water, fertile land, minerals, etc. The fact that we waste a lot of water to produce pieces of clothing is especially critical. By doing so, we reduce the amount of drinking water on the planet, which interferes with the achievement of SDG #6.
By buying from thrift stores, we reduce the consumption of natural and synthetic materials used to produce them. Producing one kilogram of clothing requires an area of land that can feed one person for three weeks, 10,000 liters of water, and half a kilogram of fertilizer.
Secondly, thrifting keeps the environment clean. By buying used clothing, we contribute to reducing the production of new ones. Thus, we reduce its toxic effects on nature. For example, to grow cotton, which occupies 2.5% of the world’s land, they use 24% of all pesticides and fertilizers in the world. It ends up in the ground and water, disrupting the planet’s ecological well-being.
It is important to note that many clothes in their composition contain synthetic materials (plastic, polyester). If these materials end up in the seas and oceans, they will not disintegrate there. Eventually, it contributes to an ecological catastrophe.
Thirdly, the reuse of clothing partially solves the problem of reducing production waste. Clothing production is the world’s second-largest polluter after oil. Each year companies from all over the world produce more than 80 billion items of clothing. Then, they incinerate this textile waste, or it ends up in landfills. The most effective step to minimise such waste is to prevent its formation. And this is what thrift shops do.
So how can one help the planet through thrifting? In addition to thrifting, anyone can donate their old clothing. It will also help one lead a more minimalist lifestyle. How often do we throw clothes away because it feels convenient to do so? Now we can donate it for others or recycle it. By doing so, not only do we help the planet, but we also surround ourselves with only the items we love. It will help us appreciate the things around us and move to more conscious behaviour.
In today’s world, using consumer goods for as long as possible is a core idea. It is significant not only from an ecological point of view but also ethically. Maintaining social balance and a conscious rejection of the unrestrained consumer race is a new trend. Thus, apart from being environmentally beneficial, thrifting affects the ecology of labor and labor relations. Being environmentally friendly means being careful – and this applies to human resources, too.