Earth Day - The Wardrobe
Earth Day seems like a great day to bring awareness to our impact on the globe. This year, I want to focus on apparel, as I have recently received many questions on the subject.
A recent study shows that the apparel and footwear industries have a bigger carbon footprint than airline flights and maritime transportation COMBINED. As we are shopping, it is easy to focus on the items we want and not consider the negative impact they make on the planet.
A few years ago, you could catch me at the mall on a weekly basis. I felt the need to constantly stop in my favorite stores, because there were always putting out new options. I did not want to risk missing a sale (even though they seemed to occur every few days). This is what we call fast fashion – constantly releasing new collections at cheap prices to encourage our shopping habits.
When I started my journey to reduce waste, I made the decision to stop buying “new” articles of clothing. Here is my process for being a conscious consumer. Though it will not work for everyone, each of these tips have helped me.
1. Stop buying “likes.”
These are the items that tend to bring us joy for a short period of time, and then we are jumping towards the next like. This is when we tend to over consume, because we are never fulfilled. Even when I stopped buying new clothing and started thrifting, I would be so excited to find a $2 designer item, I would blur the line between like and love. Then, as soon as I get it home, it sits in my closet until the next goodwill purge. The new shopping rule in our house is you have to love something enough to want to wear it everyday. Filling my closet with things you would LOVE to wear each day ensures you never spend your morning staring at a closet full of clothes thinking, “I don’t have anything to wear!” More is not better - drilling that in our brain will help us in every aspect of reducing waste.
2. Looking for ‘Loves.”
Of course there will be occasions where you need clothing. Maybe you started doing body pump a couple months ago and you can no longer pull your pants over your legs…or maybe you can force them on, but you cannot bend your knees to sit down…(this happens, people). I don’t know your life, but I do know that at some point, you will need clothing. BRB need new pants.
Secondhand stores have made this switch tremendously easy! There are a number of stores that sell gently-used preowned clothing (some of which still has the tags). This is how I have done most of my shopping and have saved so much money. I also started allowing myself to buy higher quality clothing, because “used” it is still cheaper than the items I would have purchased previously. Save money, buy nicer items, I’ll take it.
3. Secondhand APParel…get it? Okay, done. Poshmark has been my newest favorite tool. Using this app/website, consumers can search for specific needs. You might know the exact color/size/brand/style you want to shop – this app makes it SO EASY!!! This saves time hunting down all of the secondhand shops in the city in hopes of finding a specific item. You can also use the “offer” tool to negotiate the list price with the seller. Although there is still shipping involved, buying used is still a better option, because we are not adding to the clothing waste stream!
I used to buy the same brand/style of jeans in different colors. I normally have 4 pairs of jeans: black, grey, light blue, dark blue. I wear the heck out of them, and when they are destroyed, I replace. My first Poshmark purchase was those exact jeans for 75% off what I paid previously (from Nordstrom RACK). You can find really great deals. Situations like this (where you know exactly what you are looking for) make the filters extremely beneficial to find what you want.
Another app/website you can check out for shopping secondhand is Thredup. Lots of people swear by ordering here. I will update you once I have personal experiences. They give 20% off on your first order, so it’s worth looking into if you are in need of clothing. Using their filters, you can click on things like “Under $10” to find options in all price ranges.
4. LAST RESORT & Research.
The very last option on the list should be used sparingly. Almost everything you need can be found through secondhand (not only with clothing, but with most areas). For those specialty items you are struggling to find secondhand, shop sustainable. There are now a growing number of options made from recycled materials. Research the items you are buying and how their production is impacting the environment, and select the least harmful. As your underwear gets holes and starts falling apart, do a little research before you run back to your normal shop.
Sometimes people feel really weird about “used” clothing. The benefit to shopping secondhand or using apps is that you can see the item, description and condition before you purchase. Many times, clothing that is for sale is hardly used at all. If you are grossed out to wear an outfit worn by someone else, wash it as soon as you get home! This is no different than trying something on at the store…think of all the people who have tried it on before you.
Let me know if you need any suggestions about secondhand shopping, or if you have any pieces of advice to share!
HAPPY EARTH DAY!