Fast fashion feels like it’s everywhere, and it’s easy to think that the fashion industry has always been this way but it is actually a relatively new phenomenon:
We are consuming 400% more clothes now than we did just 20 years ago (that’s the late 1990’s!)
And that increase in consumption comes at a cost:
The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on the planet, second only to fossil fuels
It is responsible for 3% of total global CO2 emissions
150 billion items of clothing are made each year, and in the USA 36kg of clothes per person are thrown away.
The cost of clothes has come down hugely in recent years, and sadly clothes are now sometimes seen as disposable – some people quite literally buy cheap High St clothes with no intention of ever washing them and wearing again – they buy them to wear once and then throw away. But as cheap as our clothes now are, someone somewhere is paying the price. And in the case of fast fashion, it is the garment workers, and the planet, that suffer.
The good news is that because we all need to wear clothes, we have the power to create change by making different choices about the garments we wear and buy and there are actually lots of easy options for side-stepping fast fashion and not contributing to the demand.
SHOP YOUR WARDROBE How many items do you have in your wardrobe that you’ve hardly ever worn? How many items do you wear regularly? You might be surprised to find things that you had forgotten about lurking at the bottom of your drawers, or pushed to the back of your wardrobe.
SHOP SECONDHAND Check out your local charity shops, vintage shops, thrift shops and even jumble sales to see if you can find the things you need or want to fill the gaps in your wardrobe. You can go checkout some of the amazing stuff available at thrift shops in Santa Rosa Beach, FL. If you’re looking for specific brands then eBay is a great option – just remember to tick the ‘used’ box under ‘Condition’ in the sidebar on the left hand side.
SWISH OR SWAP Swishing is basically a fancy pants name for a clothes swapping party. You can have a look on sites like Swishing.com to see if you can find anything local to you, or get a few friends together and run one at home!
RENT Livia Firth recommends that when we’re thinking of buying a new outfit we ask ourselves “Will I wear this 30 times?” And if you won’t, then don’t buy it. I don’t know about you but I really don’t venture out to posh events and weddings very much anymore, so I’m unlikely to get 30 wears out of a posh frock. In which case, renting from a dress agency might well be the answer.
SHOP ETHICAL Fast fashion has a massive impact both on the planet, and on the people who make our clothes. If you want to reduce the impact of fast fashion on the environment then it’s best to shop from ethical brands.
Did you know that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all annual global carbon emissions? That is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined! (World Bank Group, 2019)
What is fast fashion?
So, perhaps you’ve heard of the phrase ‘fast fashion’ before, but what does it actually mean? Fast fashion is used to describe cheap clothing produced by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Some well-known brands include the likes of H&M, Zara and Uniqlo.
Fashion retailers intentionally create new items of clothing and trends every few weeks, in hopes to persuade customers that they must ‘stay on trend’ by regularly purchasing new items of clothing. Since the clothing is usually of low quality and relatively inexpensive, customers will often find that they will return to stores to buy new items of clothing as it is cheaper than repairing old garments.
The effects of fast fashion
Many of us may believe that shopping for clothes (especially cheap and on trend clothes!) is harmless and maybe even fun, but what are effects of fast fashion on the environment? How it is possible for retailers to sell stock so cheaply whilst still making a profit?
In reality, many toxic chemicals are used to create the vibrant colours, prints and patterns that appear on fast fashion garments. These chemicals are often dumped into nearby rivers and streams by unregulated factories, polluting the water and air as well as harming the health of the workers that produce the garments.
In addition to this, polyester garments contain microfibres that are unable to biodegrade. This means that when they are washed in domestic washing machines, the microfibres shed and pass through our waterways which eventually lead to our oceans. This adds to the increasing levels of plastic in our oceans and present a large threat to aquatic life.
Furthermore, the low quality of fast fashion garments along with the fast trends, mean that clothes are being thrown away at an unprecedented rate. In Britain, more than 300,000 tons of clothes end up in a landfill. Landfill sites produce greenhouse gases that harm the environment and contribute to global warming.
In order to promote such low prices, cheap labour is often sourced from sweatshops. These are factories that employ workers for extremely low wages for long hours, often in poor conditions. For example, in Bangladesh, the majority of garment workers earn little more than the minimum wage and far below what is considered a living wage. Many are also forced to work 14-16 hour days, 7 days a week in hazardous conditions. Since 1990, more than 400 workers have died and several thousand more have been wounded in 50 major factory fires. Sexual harassment and discrimination are also widespread and many female workers have reported that the right to maternity leave is not upheld by employers.
What can we do to help?
If you would like to reduce your fast fashion consumption, here are some top tips on how to get started:
Buy from ethical and sustainable brands.
Consume secondhand clothing from thrift stores such as thrift stores in Lebanon, TN or online marketplaces (such as Depop). You can even swap clothes with friends and family!
DIY or upcycle old clothes. You can get creative with this by cutting, sewing, and even knitting fabrics!
Let’s be clear right from the very start that is not in any way a judgement of you if you buy fast fashion because money is tight. Cheap clothes can be a lifeline and this post is NOT aimed at you. Remember that fast fashion is a part of a broken system – but even if you have to buy it/have bought it before, just because it was produced in the fast fashion system, doesn’t mean you have to treat it as fast fashion. Look after it, wear it many, many times, and don’t be in a rush to replace it.)
But there will be people who can afford to shop elsewhere, who can afford to make more ethical choices, but who choose not to. If that’s you, then this post IS for you. And please know that it comes from a place of compassion, concern for people and planet, and from a desire to spread the word about some of negative impacts fast fashion has on the environment and the people who make our clothes.
It’s no judgement on you if you didn’t know all the stats and figures I’m going to share. If you hadn’t reached the point yet where you’ve joined the dots between your choices and people and planet. We can’t change what we don’t know.
I didn’t know until we spent out year buying nothing new. If you’d asked me before that point how my clothes were made, I would have said in a factory. I assumed it was all automated and done by machine. If you’d asked me what my clothes were made from I would have said cotton, and assumed that was ok because it’s a plant, and therefore natural.
But during that year (and since), I’ve learned that:
The majority of our clothes are made by people, usually women (80% of garment workers are women) who are sat in often poorly lit factories in unsafe conditions, sewing the same seam on the same garments, day in, day out, hour after hour. For up to 18 hours a day. For far less than the living wage they need to be able to feed their family.
Some garment workers are children. Supply chains for the fast fashion brands are so complex and are sub-contracted so many times, that most of them wouldn’t know if there was child labor being used to make their garments.
Many of our modern clothes (especially fast fashion) are made from synthetic (oil based) fabrics. The oil needs to stay in the ground.
It takes over 2000L of water to make one t-shirt -that’s the same amount of water we drink in 3 years
All of the above impacts on garment workers and the planet are compounded by the speed with which we in the developed world consume fashion.
Clothing production doubled between 2002 and 2015
Globally we consume 80 billion pieces of clothing every year
We have enough clothing on the planet right now to clothe the next 6 generations of the human race (this is via Patrick Grant from Great British Sewing Bee)
I don’t think any of us wants that. But the problem is that’s not what we’re thinking about when we spot a cheap t-shirt, or we’re feeling a hacked off with lockdown and want things to feel more normal again and hit the shops.
The system is broken. And that’s not our fault. But one thing we can do (if we can afford to) is decide to step out of that very unjust, unfair, damaging system by making some different choices. Some more thoughtful choices.
Is your convenience and desire for a new cheap t-shirt, more important than the safety of garment workers (possibly children) and the future we’re creating for our kids? That sounds very deep, a bit worthy, and not very (ish) but it is the reality we find ourselves in. It’s a hugely uncomfortable truth. And if we CAN afford to make different choices, we owe it people and planet to do so.
We can buy secondhand clothes to reduce the number of clothes that end up in the landfills every year. You can visit one of the thrift stores in Lebanon, TN if you want to shop for pre-love clothes.
Have you ever asked yourself ‘How sustainable is the fabric in my clothes?’ As a keen sewist and someone who makes my own clothes, I have always been aware of the fibres in the fabric that I buy, and have definitely got certain fabric types that I prefer to sew with. However, another important consideration for me is where my cloth is made and how eco friendly it is.
As a planet, we seem to have found ourselves with a clothes consumption habit. Do you want to know which fabrics are the worst for the planet? And which cloth you should be demanding that the fashion industry use in their products?
Well read on, because in this post I am going to discuss which fabrics you should be looking for, which to avoid at all costs, and which ones you may think are environmentally sound, but actually are not! Here is your guide to choosing clothes that are better for the planet.
How Sustainable Is The Fabric In My Clothes?
‘Fast Fashion’ has definitely been one of the buzz words of the last few years. But I do still think that people do not really consider the clothes that they buy and wear to be a part of the ecological issues facing the planet that we live on.
There is a lot of talk at the moment about how environmentally unfriendly the fashion industry is. A lot of the mass produced clothes that we buy are made in Asia, China and underdeveloped countries. Labour is cheap, and there are not always the best working conditions and practices. Plus, the fabric the clothes are made from is also produced in these areas. The clothes may not be ethically made nor eco friendly.
Do you know how your clothes have been made?
Why Cloth Consumption Is Such A Bad Habit
In recent years, and particularly over the past year during Coronavirus, people have made more purchases of clothes from online sellers than ever. Profits from some of the cheap clothes producers have hit record highs.
But a sad side effect of this is that as a planet we are throwing away more clothes than ever. It is estimated that £140 million of clothing goes to landfill each year! And a lot of clothes makers have little consideration for the ecological effects of their production methods. They just want to make the most profits.
So as consumers, what can we do to try and slow down this clothes consumption habit we have found ourselves in? Well, certainly we should be starting to look at how sustainable the fabrics that we buy are. How sustainable the fabric is in our clothes.
And what we can do as consumers to drive the clothes manufacturers to produce more of what is better for the planet. So –
which fabrics should we be buying?
what fabrics should we stop buying?
which fabrics should we limit? and
which fabrics seem ecologically sound, but really are being ‘greenwashed’?
The Clothes Fibres To Definitely Avoid
It is easiest to start with this group. Most of them are probably the most obvious. And we should definitely stop buying clothes if we see these fabrics on the label.
Polyester, Nylon and Acrylic
Made with plastic fibres from a petroleum base, these fabrics won’t degrade for between 20 to 200 years. And they use very harmful chemicals in their production.
Plus, washing these fabrics releases microfibres at each wash – polluting the oceans and getting into the food chain. Avoid buying new fabrics that contain these fibres. And avoid polyester blends – poly cotton, polyester jersey etc.
Consider buying recycled polyester from plastic bottles or nets – but there is still the problem of microfibres being released when washing.
PVC and fake leather are made with a heavy chemical process. A lot of plastic is made to coat the fabric fibres, and there are usually phthalates in the product. As such it is the most unsustainable fabric.
Velvet used to be made from silk fibres, but now is mostly made from a mix of synthetic and natural fibres, usually polyester based.
Even real silk is not sustainable (see below) So unless you know that it is vegan silk velvet, it is best to avoid.
Glitter Or Sequinned Garments or Cloth
It may seem obvious, but cloth that has glitter or sequinned cloth has added plastic pieces. In the case of glittered fabric, this plastic releases so many more microfibres when washed, so needs to be avoided at all costs!
Fur and Leather
From an ethical point of view, fur and leather can never be seen as an environmentally friendly choice, even as a by product of the food industry. There are many arguments in place about how moving to a plant based diet would be so much better for the planet.
But as well as avoiding the real thing, fake fur should be avoided. It is made of plastic.
As with polyester, PVC and nylon, fleece is made with PET plastic. And it releases a whole load of microfibres when washed.
You can buy recycled fleece – but again this does release microfibres.
Silk may be a natural product, made from the secretions of the silk worm. But the intensive way that it is harvested, and the killing of the silk worm in the process certainly mean that the production of this highly prized luxury fabric is certainly not a sustainable process.
Furthermore, the working conditions of those producing a lot of the fabric in developing countries tends to be very poor, with almost slave labour practices.
Cashmere and Angora Wool
Cashmere is made from goat wool, and angora from the fur of Angora rabbits or goats. The resulting fibres are often mixed with sheets wool to produce a blended product.
Whilst you may think of these both as natural fibres that do not involve killing the animals to produce, in actual fact the production of these fibres often involves cruel and unethical practices. Especially in the Chinese producing factories.
The animals are kept in cramps and unhygienic conditions, and treated very poorly. Definitely unsustainable from an ethical point of view.
Clothes Fibres To Be Wary Of – They May Seem Green Or Natural – But They Are Not!
Although these clothes fibres are natural, they certainly aren’t sustainable fabrics, and so it is better to limit your consumption of these, or definitely buy recycled or organic versions.
Greenwashing has become another buzz word over the last few years. Greenwashing is when the clothes manufacturer tries to make out that they are using natural and ethically produced cloth or partaking in greener recycling methods. But actually the cloth or products aren’t much more eco friendly than their fast fashion comrades.
So what clothing fibres seem natural or green, but may not be that sustainable really? It is certainly worth taking a closer look when buying these fabrics.
As a natural fibre, you would think that cotton would be incredibly sustainable. But you would be wrong.
Most cotton is intensively grown, with a lot of toxic pesticides and workers in poor conditions. Then the fibre and resulting cloth is chemically treated and produced in factories with poor ethical working and pay conditions.
Furthermore, the water needed to create cotton garments is highly intensive. One pair of jeans needs up to 20,000 gallons of water to make. A single t-shirt can take 3000 gallons of water to produce. This just is not sustainable.
Yes, you can buy Oeto-Tek organic cotton, which is GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard), but at the end of the day, it is better to buy recycled cotton.
Similarly, denim is also cotton, so has the same chemical, pesticide and highly intensive energy consumption issues, making it just as unsustainable as cotton. But it has the added process of often needing to be sandblasted during production. This process is high risk and is often carried out by workers in poor conditions. Making denim just as unsustainable.
Again, look for denim with GOTS certification. Or buy recycled.
Viscose / Rayon
Viscose (or rayon) is made from the wood pulp of fast growing beech, pine, sugar cane and eucalyptus plants. So again you would think that this is a great sustainable fabric source.
But harvesting this wood is also the cause of a lot of deforestation in the areas that produce it. So look for viscose from sustainable forest sources. FSC certified. If it does not have this guarantee or mark, then it probably is not from a sustainable source.
Again, you think wool and you think about sheep who are still alive after being sheared. It is a natural, breathable fibre.
But the production of wool does have some environmental effect on the planet and ethical impact on the animal. Controversial shearing practices and whether the sheep are treated well mean that wool is not necessarily as sustainable an option as you may think.
I would consider buying reused, recycled or preloved wooden products. And looking after them well.
One of the biggest supposed eco friendly revolutions of the past few years has been rise of bamboo incorporation into fabrics. It seems very eco friendly.
However, a lot of the production of bamboo for the clothing industry comes from China, so we know very little of whether it is grown sustainably. We do not know how energy efficient its production is, or whether the workers producing it are treated ethically, fairly or even paid properly.
Peace silk may seem more sustainable and eco friendly, as the silkworm is not killed during production of the fibre. But the production of this cloth is still very energy and emissions intensive, so it thus cannot be classed as being a sustainable fabric source.
Modal is a very popular fabric now. It is a semi-synthetic viscose material that is soft and drapes as well as viscose. It can be made with 100% Tencel, which is a sustainable fabric (see below). But it is often also mixed with less environmentally friendly fabrics. So it is best to take a close look before purchasing clothing made of this. Make sure it is 100% Tencel Modal.
So – What Fabric Fibres Should I Be Buying?
Choosing these fabrics are a great way of making the clothes in your wardrobe more sustainable. The materials used to make them are manufactured or grown healthily.
They are good for the economy, and less waste and emission producing. Their manufacture tends to involve more ethical production methods, with workers being paid a living wage and having good working conditions. And so all round they benefit the planet rather than stripping it of energy and resources.
Maybe if you have a favourite brand it is worth asking them if they can produce clothing using these fabrics in the future?
Linen is made of fibres from the flax plant, and this material has been around for centuries. As an organic fibre, it actually requires minimal water and pesticides to grow a strong plant. It grows even in poor soil. The resulting cloth is strong, cool, resists moths and is fully biodegradable, particularly when no synthetic dyes have been used. It is an amazingly sustainable fabric source.
Like linen, hemp has also been used for hundreds of years. And like linen, the hemp plant needs little water and pesticides to grow well. It also can grow in poor soil; even fertilising the soil in which it grows! It too is incredibly sustainable as a natural cloth making fibre.
Nettle, Jute and Rame
Nettle, Jute and Rame are also plant based cloth fibres. Like hemp and flax, they are very fibrous plants that grow in poor conditions and are strong fibres, and are perfect for producing sustainable crops for cloth making. I am sure that we will see a whole lot more of these in cloth production in the future.
Tencel is made with cellulose fibres, a wood pulp. It requires less water and energy to produce. It is antibacterial and wicks water away from the wearer, so it is great for active wear..
Pinatex is made by Ananas Anam – and is a vegan leather alternative made by the natural byproducts of pineapple harvesting methods for the food industry.
The faux leather is made using pineapple leaf fibres. And the company also have a very ethical relationship with the communities involved in the growth and harvest of pineapples.
Econyl is made by Italian company AquaFil. They are regenerating industrial synthetic waste such as fishing nets and waste fabric into a new nylon fibre. It takes less waste and energy to produce the new plastic, so hence this is more sustainable. However, the resulting fabric does still shed micro plastics, so it is best washed in a Guppyfriend Bag
Unlike real silk and peace silk, vegan silk is microsilk – a man made made material that is spun from natural based fibres. it is made by Bolt Threads who also make Mylo – a sustainable leather substitute that is made from mycelium, or a fungus type material.
frienRecycled Cotton and Denim
Recycled cotton and denim are definitely the best and only true sustainable versions of this fabric. Recycling cotton is relatively easy, and needs reduced water and emissions. And means less cotton going to landfill.
Recycled Polyester, Recycled Fleece And Recycled Plastic Products
A lot of manufacturers are now using recycled polyester, recycled plastic bottles and fishing netting. But do be aware that these still release microfibres of plastic when washed. So it is best to use a Guppyfriend wash bag that catches the plastic particles.
How Do You Check What Fibres Your Cloth Is Made From?
Read the label in the clothing.
Ask the seller of the cloth what the fabric is made from. If they cannot tell you, walk away.
If buying online, check the description well for the full fibre content. Sellers should be able to tell you this.
And How Do I Make The Clothing In My Wardrobe More Sustainable?
I am not saying at all that you should throw all the clothes in your wardrobe away. But that in future we all need to buy a little more responsibly and buy smarter.
Only by voting with our dollars and pounds will we get the clothes manufacturers to change their ways. If we all stopped buying the mass produced, cheap and unenvironmentally unfriendly trash that is being produced in favour of more sustainable clothing and methods, then it would make a massive impact on the planet.
So how do I make the fabric in my clothes more sustainable?
Buy less clothes , choose well and make them last.
Recycle or donate your clothes if you do not want them
Consider up cycling clothes into other things when they are worn. and
Compost whatever fabric you can – natural fibres will all compost down. Find my guide to composting here.
If you are buying cloth to sew into clothes, do ensure that the cloth that you buy is sustainable too. Maybe consider buying deadstock fabric – fabric that would normally be going to landfill anyway, but is being sold off.
Whenever I’m asked for advice on experiencing fashion sustainably (I’ve decided I prefer to say experiencing over shopping because consumption isn’t the be-all and end-all of this issue), I tend to always answer with, “Ask questions“, which initially stemmed back to how I came to educate myself on fast fashion’s human and environmental impact.
Fashion Revolution, the organisation that played a big part in my education and understanding of the industry, bases its main campaign around “Who made my clothes?” and asking brands for transparency but to me, this sense of curiosity and urge to ask questions should go further.
With the likes of Extinction Rebellion’s new fashion boycott spurring on more people to analyse their shopping habits and questioning whether we need to be buying any clothes at all (once we already have a decent amount to wear), I believe it’s important to evaluate how we approach shopping – or avoiding it (which I’ve discussed here) – and the language we use. We need to ask ourselves. We need to slow down and understand how we truly feel, and especially when shopping, we need to avoid certain phrases…
“I need this.”
I’ve definitely experienced plenty of those, “That’s so me!”, squeal-worthy moments, so, it might seem nitpickish to call this out as an issue but it’s all part of consciously shifting your mindset and attitude towards shopping.
Now that the majority of my shopping occurs on a second-hand basis, I truly understand the difference between needing and wanting. This doesn’t mean that I’m numb to impulse and spontaneous purchases; charity and thrift shops can still bring out that sense of excitement and temporary fulfilment in you but it just comes with minimised guilt.
For me, this distinction between necessity and longing extends to my blog and my approach to receiving samples and gifted products. If I don’t need it or if I already have a similar item in my possession then I will politely decline.
There’s no issue in wanting, in fact, I’ve previously written all about actively lusting over items and why I believe wish lists can be more useful than I once deemed them to be.
“I probably didn’t need this.”
Similarly, this is a phrase which derives from impulse purchases and is almost the exact opposite attitude of what somebody who labels themselves as a ‘conscious consumer’ might have. In simple terms, if you probably didn’t need it, then why did you buy it? ‘Treat yo’ self’ culture is something that we’ve all become fairly desensitized to and it’s understandable, seeing as retail therapy is scientifically proven to be just that – a form of dopamine-inducing therapy.
Shopping sustainably though (or avoiding shopping altogether), is all about taking your time to mull over your decisions and work out what the best option is. To shop, or not to shop? That is the question!
Limiting the number of times we fall back onto the excuse of treating ourselves, is a way of not only restricting the size of our wardrobes but a way of saving ourselves money in the long-run.
“I’m not sure why I bought this.”
I see this to be different to the previous two phrases because it doesn’t just suggest that what you bought was an impulse purchase; it also suggests the attitude you might have towards the item in the future. Shopping sustainably also means owning responsibly.
Fashion Revolution coined the phrase “Loved clothes last”, meaning that if we care and respect our clothes, no matter how ethically produced they were or what materials they are made of, they will ultimately last longer because we will do our best to look after them.
(However, this is not a reason to fall back into the habit of supporting unsustainable and unethical brandsjust because we know we can make their products last. That’s like continuing to use single-use plastic bottles just because you can refill them over and over; there are other ways of doing things that won’t be harmful to start off with.)
None of these phrases strictly imply that you’re living and consuming unsustainably but I believe that what we say and think about our clothes and what we bring into our lives can have a huge effect on our mindset towards consumption. So, if we can change our attitude towards genuinely knowing why we buy what we buy, it could help us all be far more considerate.
“It’s really in trend right now.”
Aside from the sustainability aspect, the lack of guilt and the fact that it’s a habit I’ve had since I was a child, one reason I love shopping second-hand is that it allows so much more room for individuality.
Clothes are not separated into styles and seasons (at most, you might find clothes organised by colour) and there are no look books and stylised campaigns to influence your decision making. There are no trends, which makes avoiding this phrase relatively easy.
Trends and the vast amount which are generated by the fashion industry’s constant cycle of seasons, maintain the rate of production of new garments and feed into this idea that what we are wearing and searching for, is never enough. There will always be another season with another set idea of what we should be wearing, therefore, another reason to buy.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying trends but I recommend taking the time to sit with those feelings and analyse them once the peak of the trend has passed. I use apps like Depop and the Saved function of Instagram to store trend-led items for sale so I can source them sustainably in the future if the style is still something I appreciate.
“I really need to stop buying more [insert item of clothing]…”
This is the phrase which I believe is easiest to scrap entirely. Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable (and even appreciated) when somebody owns something in their wardrobe in a selection of different colourways because it’s a dress/shirt/pair of trousers that fits and suits them better than anything else – for some people, that’s essential, especially when it comes to finding the right sizing (even more so from an ethical or sustainably focused brand which might not always have the most inclusive size-ranges).
When it comes to your wardrobe as a whole though, it’s time to recognise when enough is enough. For me? I don’t need any more blouses and tops. I have too many to balance out the number of bottoms (trousers, shorts and skirts) that I own.
That doesn’t mean that I’m going to suddenly decrease the size of my wardrobe (a smaller wardrobe doesn’t necessarily make a more sustainable one) but it does mean I need to be making the conscious effort to stop adding more in the future, even if it is from a guilt-free source like a local charity shop.
Analyse your wardrobe and figure out what your limit is. From my experience, physically limiting myself (with a lack of storage space or from living out of a suitcase) has meant I’ve been able to calculate this more easily. You can also opt to buy pre-owned clothes. You can visit one of the thrift stores in Lebanon, TN if you want to buy secondhand clothes.
Thrift shopping, much like any other hobby or interest, has both professionals and amateurs. The great thing about thrift shopping is that it can be quite different from shopping at your average retail store. Since your options change all the time, you never know what you might find.
Again, just like most hobbies, the professionals have a few tricks up their sleeves when it comes to thrift shopping. Many of these come from experience, but you’re going to get the inside scoop on the mistakes people make when thrifting so that you can avoid them and become a pro yourself.
Buying Fast Fashion Brands
One of the biggest draws of a good thrift store is usually selecting available clothing. You can find all sorts of fabrics, textures, and brands in the racks of a well-maintained thrift store. However, it’s essential to know what you’re looking at. Some brands engage in what is known as “fast fashion.” Fast fashion involves creating intentionally low-quality clothes so that they break down faster and need replacing sooner. You can easily avoid these brands by doing a little research into their backgrounds and points of origin.
Shopping During Busy Hours
Some timeframes are just flat-out better for coming into one of the thrift stores. Many people who don’t thrift shop often will come in on their days off to find what they need; this means that weekends are usually the busiest time for thrift stores.
If you want to avoid the crush of people scrambling through the store to find the best deals, your best bet is to come during less hectic times. Early in the morning is a great place to start. Weekdays are also great if you can make that work for your schedule.
Writing Off Older Items
Many thrift stores regularly get items that have seen their fair share of years in the closet. If something seems old-fashioned or aged beyond what you would typically pick up, please take a second glance. Certain clothes might be vintage brands that you can’t find anywhere else.
You may even find a collectible that is worth quite a lot of money to the right person. These older items still have plenty of use left in them, especially as they closely inspect their donations to ensure they are in good shape before putting them out for sale.
Passing On Items That Need Small Adjustments
For those who regularly use thrift shopping to supplement their closets, one of the biggest mistakes people make when thrifting is passing on items that only need minor tune-ups to work well. Sizes can vary a lot on shelves, but just because something doesn’t fit you perfectly, that doesn’t mean you can’t easily alter it to work in your favor.
Remember, you’re spending much less money on these items than you would typically, leaving you plenty of room in your budget to have these pieces tailored the way you want them.
Buying Clothes That Are Too Small
A common thing that is seen in the thrift stores is that people will buy clothes that don’t fit them currently in the hopes that they’ll fit into them one day. While there isn’t anything wrong with this, per se, you need to be careful when doing this at a thrift shop. Before you know it, your whole closet could be overflowing with clothes that look great but that you can’t wear.
Only Coming In To Find Clothes
A good thrift store in Destin, FL has much more to offer than just clothes. You can find all sorts of exciting knickknacks and items for your home at thrift stores as well. You might want to take home:
An interesting used book to read
A collectible for your shelves
A new board game
A piece of home décor
A barely used chair or end table
Not Allocating Enough Time
Thrift stores are notorious rabbit holes where you can spend a lot of time looking for exactly what you want. The last thing you want is to miss a great item you would love just because you had to rush out the door.
Try to plan for your thrift store visits, and tack on some extra time for yourself to look around and explore. Exploring is how you’ll find the great deals and rare items, so make sure you have enough time to do it!
Not Using the Dressing Room
Perhaps even more so than in your regular department store, using the dressing room will be an essential part of your visit if you’re picking up clothes. Because the selection is so eclectic and comes from all over, sizes can vary wildly, even if two different pieces say they are both mediums.
Do not fall into the trap of getting home only to realize that your new clothes won’t fit you. That’s what dressing rooms are for—so you know exactly what you’re getting into when you buy something.
Not Engaging With the Staff
Don’t be afraid to approach any member of of the thrift shops. Whether you’re asking about specific clothes you’re looking for, when the next big sale is, or to use the dressing room, they’ll be glad to assist you in any way they can. They may know how to find exactly what you’re looking for.
The number of items purchased every year has doubled in the last 15 years. They’re buying more and more clothing, and they’re also throwing away a lot of these purchases, with 84% of clothing ending up in landfills or incinerators.
It’s a shocking number, and it’s not sustainable. They can’t go on buying new items at this rate, and finding ways to get more use out of each piece in our wardrobes is crucial if they want to reduce the impact of our fashion choices on the planet.
Brands need to change the ways clothes are made so they are more durable or recyclable, but they, consumers and citizens, also have an essential role to play. By changing the way they consume, voting with our dollar, and choosing better brands and practices, they can push the whole industry forward.
Shopping second hand is said to be one of the things they can do to reduce the footprint of our wardrobes. But is shopping second hand sustainable? Today, they look at the rise, impact, and issues linked to shopping pre-owned clothing.
The rise of second hand shopping
Many people saw secondhand clothing as dirty, old, dull, and frankly unattractive for a long time. People thought that going to the thrift shops in Lebanon, TN, op shop, or flea market meant you had to spend hours, even days, dutifully digging through piles of discarded clothes in the hopes of finding one good piece that would hopefully be the correct size.
But things have changed. Shopping second hand is becoming easier and more accessible than ever, and as a result, the resale market is booming. Resale platform thredUP predicts online thrifting will grow 69% between 2019 and 2021, and some even believe that the resale sector will be bigger than fast fashion within ten years.
Today, with people being more worried about the planet and their finances than ever, they will likely turn to their local second hand shops or resale websites. These sites like Depop, The Real Real, or Vestiaire Collective have truly revolutionised the way they think about second hand.
While some experts worried the pandemic would negatively impact the resale sector due to consumers being worried about hygiene, the contrary happened.
People found more time to clean out their wardrobes! Retailers are noticing this growing trend, and many are seizing the second hand opportunity, which began to sell second hand clothes in its supermarkets just a couple of weeks ago.
Is shopping second hand sustainable?
Wherever you are in the world, if you go to a mall or shopping centre, you’ll likely find a Zara, or an H&M, or a Forever 21. Society is dominated by these fast fashion giants, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and confused about which brands are worth supporting.
Buying vintage and second hand provides a refreshing and, yes, more sustainable way to shop.
Better for people, the planet, and animals
Buying pre-owned clothes allows to add items to our wardrobe without using additional resources in the manufacturing process. The fashion industry is responsible for 8-10%of global carbon emissions, uses massive amounts of water, and exploits workers and animals worldwide.
Buying clothes that already exist slows down the fast fashion cycle and the relentless demands on low-paid workers in the supply chain.
You’re also keeping clothes out of landfills by giving them a new life and discovering unique and special pieces along the way. Gone are the days of arriving at a party wearing the same dress or t-shirt as your friend.
Finally, shopping second hand is cheaper and more accessible! Many people are worried about the cost of sustainable fashion, but honestly, building an ethical wardrobe doesn’t have to be expensive, and buying second hand is a great first step.
Hands-down, jeans are the best bargain in any thrift store. Where I live, high-quality used jeans sell for $7.99-$12.99 a pair. And though that may seem high for “pre-loved” denim, consider this: According to Statista, a consumer market research company, the average retail price of women’s jeans was $165 in 2018.
Think all thrift store jeans are junk? Think again. There are loads of high-quality clothes in thrift stores if you know what to look for.
Tools are go-items at thrift stores and something I always buy at estate sales. I’m not talking about circular saws and welding torches here, just basic tools everyone should have.
Since much of what gets donated is older, it’s easy to find used tools that are well-made and proven by years of dedicated service.
Look for genuine made-in-America stuff, like your parents or grandparents had. And don’t let a little surface rust discourage you. With just the slightest TLC, most old tools can go for another generation or two.
3. Totes, trays and baskets
Sure, Amazon sells countless products to organize your home. But, again: Why pay retail?
Canvas totes are always on my shopping list. They’re handy for stowing items in the trunk of my car, packing for an overnight trip, and shopping at garage sales and flea markets.
Trays and baskets are my other go-to storage items. Trays are perfect for displaying cologne, organizing TV remotes or storing craft supplies. Use baskets to store pet supplies, winter gear and bath towels.
4. Holiday decorations
Psst: When you pay less for holiday decorations, you’ll have more money to spend on gifts.
Over the years, I’ve built a handsome collection of handmade Christmas tree ornaments — all purchased at thrift shops for about 50 cents apiece.
And, like clockwork every year, I find a box of brand-new holiday greeting cards for a dollar or two. (Sorry, retailers, but spending $6 to $12 a box just doesn’t work for me.)
But why stop there? Thrift stores sell artificial trees, tree skirts, wreaths and wrapping paper. Best of all, when you buy from charity-related shops, you’re directing your dollars toward worthy causes. And that’s a good idea every season of the year.
5. Art and craft supplies
Thrift stores offer limitless options for artists and crafters.
Besides old canvases that can be painted over, I look for vintage photographs, wallpaper samples, fabric, yarn, pottery and silverware.
With a little inspiration, nearly everything in a thrift shop can be reimagined and repurposed. And since the raw materials are so inexpensive, you can let your creative spirit run wild.
I’ll say it loud and proud: “I buy all my dishes at thrift stores.” Sure, nothing matches in the strictest sense, but that’s part of the fun.
Creative designers make an art form of setting tables with highly curated “mismatched” sets of dinnerware. You can copy this great look for pennies at a thrift store. Here’s how:
I choose a main color family (classic whites and creams) and an accent color (navy blue).
Next, I let my creativity take over, buying interesting pieces that fit within my chosen palette.
Every plate, bowl, cup and saucer is different, yet it all works together.
When a cup breaks, I pick up a used, unique replacement. Stress level? Zero. Cost? Practically zero.
Though I’m not a big fan of perfume, many of my friends and family are. It’s a treat to find a bottle of Burberry or Dior mixed in with thrift stores’ standard fare of Avon and Charlie.
And it happens more often than you might think. Most major department stores donate their perfume testers. Look for the telltale missing cap. (Caps are removed so used bottles can’t be returned as new.)
The best part? Many thrift shops aren’t familiar with high-end fragrance brands. Some bottles sell for $3 or $4 apiece.
8. One-of-a-kind items
I’m always on the lookout for the weird and wonderful.
Kids’ pinch pots with wild glazes, threadbare silk rugs, a stack of black and white snapshots — these one-of-a-kind items make our homes unique. And they can all be found in thrift stores.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a hand-painted image of a sleeping dog. It’s primitive, but done with such care that I couldn’t pass it up. Today, that $4 find is one of my most treasured possessions.
Trends come and go! Sometimes all those items that you have bought over the years tend to stay in your closet. Those clothes are probably shoved into a box and kept in the back of your closet.
That box of clothes is only getting bigger and bigger through the passing months and years. Instead of letting those old clothes overtake your closet, donate them!
There are clothing donation locations where you can drop-off unused clothing. Or there are even donation pick-ups that you have scheduled to come to your home. There is no excuse not to donate!
If you are decluttering your closet, here is how to sort clothes to give away.
JEANS THAT NO LONGER FIT
From bootleg, straight leg to skinny, the average person can accumulate many pairs of jeans. On the other hand, the average American man owns, on average, six pairs of jeans. All those jeans can accumulate in your closet as the years pass. If you have some pair of jeans that longer fit you, it is time to donate them.
HEELS THAT YOU CANNOT WALK IN
We have all been there when you buy a pair of heels that were love at first sight. The joy of finding them might have made you oversee that the shoes were not comfortable.
Instead of the heels taking up room in your closet, donate them to the thrift shop in Lebanon, TN. There is someone out there who will love them just as much as you do and even wear them.
HANDBAGS THAT DO NOT MATCH YOUR WARDROBE
Is there such a thing as too many handbags? Perhaps, it is true when you no longer have room to store new handbags. Instead of leaving those bags on the floor or somewhere they might get damaged, pick out the ones that no longer fit your style.
You might have only bought that handbag to match an outfit you no longer wear. Either way parting with some bags gives you room for new ones.
SPECIAL OCCASION CLOTHES THAT YOU HAVE ALREADY WORN
One way on how to sort clothes to give away is to start with outfits for special occasions. Whether it is a wedding, New Year’s Eve party or graduation, we tend to buy that outfit just for one event.
It is common that we decide not to wear that piece of clothing again. Take those articles of clothing that you know you are longer going to wear and donate them.
OUT OF SEASON CLOTHING
The change in weather indicates what you will wear for the next upcoming months. Whether winter or fall is approaching, switching out a wardrobe can save you valuable time. Instead of packing up all your summer clothes for the winter, toss a few items.
Pick out the pieces of clothing that you know you will no longer wear and donate them. This will save lots of room in your storage and help recycle those old clothes.
Thrift stores have grown to become a popular way to shop. It has even expanded online. There are now businesses that sell secondhand items online. Thrift World is one of those businesses.
Whether it is at a thrift shops in Destin, FL or an online thrift shop, thrifting helps consumers save money, reuse clothes and save the environment. If you have not joined the thrifting community, here are four facts that might change your mind.
THRIFT STORES BEGAN TO GROW IN POPULARITY IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY.
Back in the day, there was a stigma buying and selling used clothing. This stigma began to be tossed out when Christian ministries started to use thrift stores as a way to fund their programs.
However, it was not until the 1920s that thrift stores started to look like the ones we have today. The demand for secondhand increased during the Great Depression. During this time, many people could not afford to buy new items. These hard times caused them to seek more secondhand items.
GEN Z AND MILLENNIALS DO THE MOST THRIFTING.
If there is one thing that Gen Z and Millennials love more than their phones is thrifting. Both of these generations are driving the growth of secondhand clothing. ThredUp reports that Millenials and Gen Z are adopting shopping for secondhand clothing 2.5 times faster than other generations.
The demand for secondhand clothing has only increased throughout the years. From 2017 to 2019, secondhand sales increased by 37 percent in Millennials and 46 percent in Gen Z. These two generations are more likely to buy secondhand because they want to shop more sustainably and ethically.
THRIFT STORES HELP REDUCE TEXTILE WASTE.
Textile waste is a growing problem around the world. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports found that 17 million tons of textile waste end up in landfills. This is a problem because textile takes up to 200 or more years to decompose in landfills.
One way that textile waste is being reduced is through the help of thrift stores. These kinds of stores collect clothing and resell it. Items that cannot be sold get recycled. This process helps reduce the amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills.
THRIFTING HELPS SAVE WATER AND REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS.
Water is important for all living things, but it is limited. The fashion industry is the second industry that consumes the most water. Reports state that it consumes an average of 79 billion cubic meters of water per year. Not to mention, the fashion industry produces about 10 percent of carbon emissions.
Water consumption and carbon emissions can be reduced through thrifting. Shopping at a thrift stores reduces the demand for new clothing. Thrift stores give people the opportunity to recycle and reuse clothes.