By Angelica Bottaro

For many people, the clothes they wear are more than just fabrics to keep their bodies covered. Fashion is a statement, a personality identifier, and a way to express yourself through the art of appearance. The fashion industry is worth over $4 billion USD worldwide.

That’s a lot of money going into producing and creating your favourite outfits. However, there is a massive problem associated with the fashion industry—waste. According to an article in The Times, over 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ended up in UK landfills in 2017 alone.

This overabundance of thrown away clothes is just taking up space, possibly for as long as 200 years! Many people toss out clothing that doesn’t fit them anymore, or for newer styles while the pieces in question are still perfectly wearable. So, why do we continue to toss out good clothing? It seems there’s a pre-worn fashion revolution coming, and it’s about time.

Sustainability And Why It’s Important

Fashion sustainability relies on keeping things for as long as possible to avoid overconsumption and further negative contribution to the global environmental crisis. It can be achieved easily too by either limiting purchases to things that we need or buying gently worn clothing at stores like Depop.

Given the state of the environment and the sheer amount of waste from other sources, it seems like participating in sustainable fashion is a great way to reduce your personal carbon footprint. It can also lower the demand for production of new fabrics. Considering 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the manufacturing and shipping of new clothes, it’s an industry that could use a little more sustainability.

The Economic Upside

Who doesn’t love a good sale? One benefit of buying pre-loved clothing that I love is the significant drop in price. People can’t sell their high-end clothing at the same price-point if they’ve been wearing it for a year already, and those savings are passed onto the next consumer in line.

You could likely go into your closet right now and find a fabulous dress or sweater that you have worn twice but just can’t bring yourself to throw away. So, what should you do? Recycle it! 

There is an ever-increasing number of eCommerce platforms available where sellers post new and used articles of clothing. Added bonus: you can shop for new clothes while making money from the beautiful but impractical-for-your-life pieces you are selling! It’s a win-win-win. You win, the person who sells/buys from you wins, and the environment wins.

Fashion As An Interest Piece 

A new pair of jeans won’t have a story to tell. They were likely produced in a factory somewhere and then shipped to the shelves where you and 10 other people picked up the same pair.

When it comes to pre-loved fashion, there’s less chance of cookie-cutter duplicates. When you discover that one-in-a-lifetime find, you know that it lived an entire life before you and is unique.

So where should you start to get in on the environment-saving action?

Excellent examples of places you can buy and sell gently used clothing include:

A lot of the online stores mentioned above function on a consignment style, but a couple of them take ethical fashion one step further. For example, Worn Wear sells second-hand clothing, but they also use discarded items to create new pieces.

Other ethical fashion stores are on the rise, too. They use less waste and water to produce new textiles from their clothing, contribute directly to environmental efforts, or use exclusively sustainable materials. Some of the best options for sustainable brands include Ten Tree, People Tree, Beaumont Organic, Thought and Bibico, amongst others. 

You can buy these brands new, support the cause, and then sell the pieces back to contribute even more positively to the rise of ethical fashion.

Saving The Environment One Sweater At A Time 

It’s easy to think of the environmental impact of the auto or oil industries as driving factors of the global emissions, but the fashion industry is right up there with the rest of them. In fact, according to Elizabeth L. Cline, author of The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, it has a more significant impact than the airline industry.

This current level of fast fashion leads to even more consumption of clothing because companies are spurred on to continue to release new lines, new trends. This all takes a toll. Being a part of the solution is as easy as buying pre-loved clothes while selling yours to consumers excited to breathe new life into your old threads.