In 2012, the country was taken by storm in the release of the new song “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, bringing attention to the already popular culture of thrifting, and encouraging more people to take part in the activity. Another significant contribution to the increase in thrifting efforts came with the rise of sustainability efforts.
Thrifting can be wonderful for both the environment, and our bank accounts. It is a way to live sustainably without going broke, which can be particularly appealing for college students.
It also prevents textile waste, which means fewer clothing items are going into landfills as they are being upcycled in thrift stores.
60% of clothing in landfills contains synthetic fibers, making them almost impossible to break down. By avoiding putting these clothes in landfills through recycling articles of clothing via thrift store donations, we are decreasing the amount of plastic in landfills.
Thrifting also creates less demand for fast fashion. Companies such as Forever 21, Shein, and Wish, to name a few, mainly use fast fashion resources to make short lasting clothing. This production model is fueled by its low prices, which draws customers in, but is also really bad for the environment.
For those who are unfamiliar with the phrase, fast fashion is when a company produces cheaply made clothing as quickly as possible in order to sell as much as possible. These practices may seem fine at first glance, but often, they negatively impact the individuals making said clothing, as well as contribute to landfill waste, as most of the clothing that is not sold immediately enters a landfill.
Oftentimes, the consumers who purchase clothes from fast fashion companies are more drawn to the significantly lower prices of the clothing than anything else; the affordable, convenient, quantity over quality mentality fuels the fast fashion industry.
Fast fashion aside, thrifting is great for giving old clothes new homes, and preventing any type of clothing from going into a landfill. Donating and repurposing clothing holds an overall positive impact on the environment.
However, while “popping tags” can have some really great environmental benefits, its growing popularity can also have a negative impact on the communities around us. Many times, people who need to use thrifting as a resource to find clothes for themselves or their families discover that most of the “decent” and “quality” items have already been picked through in someone else’s efforts to find trendy outfits.
This is not always the case, and there will still always be more clothes on the thrift store racks thanks to donations, but it is important that we remain self-aware about which items we take, and make sure to leave enough for those in our community who rely on thrifting as a necessity and not a hobby.