Banana Republic coat: $15, Goodwill. Compared to $198 new. Red velvet pants: $4, Goodwill. Chair: $30, yard sale.
For the love of God and nature, stop buying shit… unless that shit is second hand! Americans consume and discard clothing at an alarming rate. According to The True Cost, a documentary that aims to reveal the horrors of the fashion industry, “the average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste per year.” I’m just gonna say it, that’s fucking insane! In the process of making clothes, water is wasted, toxic chemicals are released and human and animal lives are jeopardized. For what? So we can own more crap than we know what to do with? Also stated in The True Cost, are these not so fun little facts: 90% of cotton used to make our clothes is GMO and “responsible for 18% of worldwide pesticide use; there are roughly 40 million garment workers in the world today and are some of the lowest paid workers in the world and roughly 85% of all garment workers are women.” Ok ladies, if you care about women’s rights and the divine feminine, take note!
What makes this even more horrendous, is that our consumption is not only somehow justified but encouraged by governments and media. I often hear that spending is good for the economy, or I deserve this thing so I am going to buy it. Really, good for the economy? What’s good for the economy is creating systems that will support the economy for generations to come. What we deserve is not stuff but to be liberated from the idea that things somehow reflect our value as humans and to stop working like slaves to buy shit we don’t need. If there is one thing citizens (or what we are now called, consumers) have control of, it is where we choose to put our money. A powerful and easy way to support the health of ourselves and the planet is to stop buying new. Just stop. This doesn’t mean you have to give up shopping completely. I understand that many things serve a purpose. Things can be utilitarian,necessary, artistic and enjoyable. However, let’s face it, we consume more than we will ever need. Besides, you can still shop to your heart’s desire (although you may want to consider your spending habits even if you are purchasing used) but that shopping should be done with awareness, so you can make good decisions for the planet.
In an article, Waste Culture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry by Luz Claudia, Pietra Rivoli (a professor at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University) is quated as saying, “There are nowhere near enough people in America to absorb the mountains of castoffs, even if they were given away.” Believe me, there’s more than enough crap to go around people! In the same article I learned that polyester, a product made from petroleum is the most widely manufactured fiber in the world and completely dependent on crude oil. Hmm, sounds like if you want to support Standing Rock a good idea would be to consume less, much less! Speaking of water, a major concern of the fashion industry is the amount of water used to produce clothing. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make one pair of jeans! What!? Together we have to decide what’s important. Life itself or stuff?
I guarantee that if you make an effort you will find the most amazing used items to furnish your house and adorn your body with. I enjoy fashion and shopping. For me it’s a wonderfully artistic way to honor my body. However, I am no longer willing to compromise the wellbeing of humans, animals and the health of the planet for things. For this reason, buying second hand is my favorite way to say fuck you to capitalism and consumerism. Below are some hopefully inspiring ways I can support you in buying second hand.
Why Buy Second Hand?
Shirt, Vintage, Goodwill, $5. Pants, Citizens of Humanity, Goodwill, $8, compare @ $200 new.
Sweater, unknown brand, $10, shop unknown. Pants, Free People, $20 but I got them for free as a trade at We Gather Consignment store, Bishop, CA.
#1: It’s better for the environment it’s better for people!
Fashion is a multi-trillion dollar industry and produces one of the largest ecological footprints in the world. You have the ability to reduce this footprint significantly by shopping second hand. Next time you walk into a department store, take a moment to consider that all the stuff that you are looking the at came from somewhere and will soon end up in the landfill. Consider the water, oil, people and animals it took to create what you are looking to buy. Examine your wants versus your needs and take a look at your motivations for consuming. Then walk right out of that department store and head on over to the thrift store!
#2: You’ll save money!
You will not believe the amount of money I have saved buying used! Because of my savings I am able to work less and devote my time to things I’d rather be doing like being with my loved ones and making art. The way I see it, my time is more important than money. Buying used items is a win-win-win situation. I get to work less, support the environment and I still look better than ever!
#3: You’ll look better!
You don’t need to buy new in order to have amazing items. In fact, I purchase higher quality used items than new. I would never be able to afford the brands that I buy used if they were new. Seriously, I have never felt more fabulous then I do now and nearly my entire wardrobe is from second hand stores.
#4: You get to be creative!
Shopping second hand is is a wonderfully creative outlet. I never know what I am got find and that’s where the excitement is. It’s true, I don’t have the luxury of buying an outfit that is already put together but I do get to use my creative instincts and embrace the options that are available at the thrift store. Try it, it’s guilt free and super fun!
Thrift Storing Tips
Shirt, H&M, $8, Goodwill, Ventura, CA. Compare @ $13 new. Skirt %100 wool, Anthropologie, $45, Knimble Recycled Clothing, San Rafael, CA. Compare @ $200
Top, Free People, $3, Hospice thrift store, Bishop, CA. Compare @ $120 new. Pants, Carve Designs, $6, Cast Off, Mammoth, CA. Compare @ $100 new. Jacket, Skea, $60, compare @ $750 new.
#1: Set intention, use your instincts and buy only what you love
I find importance in setting intentions while I’m shopping. Setting an intention reminds me to be choosy about my purchases so that I walk away with only items that make me feel and look great! While looking through stuff, I say to myself that I am only going to buy the best possible clothes for me. Don’t fall into the trap of buying things because they are cheap. This is easy to do at thrift stores because everything can be super affordable. Use your intuition instead to discover what’s going to make you feel the best. You will know within seconds of looking at something whether it’s going to be worthy or not. Remember, don’t settle- only buy what you love!
#2: Be patient and persistent
There may be days that you walk out of the second hand store empty handed because you didn’t settle but over time, with patience and persistence, you will build a beautiful wardrobe. My wardrobe has taken me a year to create and taking my time has proven worth the wait. I have found many beautiful items and have enjoyed the process. The key here is to continue to visit thrift stores consistently.
100% wool sweater, $8, Goodwill, compare @ $60, new from the Gap. Belt, $8, Goodwill, compare @, $50 new, Banana Republic. Pants, BDG, $8, Cast off thrift store, Mammoth, CA, compare @#$70 new.
%100 silk shirt, Banana Republic, $5, Cast Off thrift store, Mammoth, CA. Compare @ $75 new. Jeans, Citizens of Humanity, $8, Goodwill. Compare @ $200 new. Wool hat, Bass, $8, Disabled Sports Thrift Store, Mammoth, CA. Compare @ $50 new.
#3: Shop around
I myself am a big fan of Goodwill because the price is too good to beat. However, I have been know to shop at higher end second hand stores like Buffalo Exchange. There are many used clothing stores that only carry quality non-danged second hand items. These stores have more of a boutique vibe and are not so cluttered. I have people tell me that they can’t handle the dysfunction of thrift stores. That’s totally fine, but don’t give up on second hand shopping based on your past experiences at thrift stores. If you are not willing to sift through so much crap seek out second hand stores that carry only nicer things.
Here is a list of my favorite used clothing stores:
#4: Finding your size
I have had both my extra-small sized friends, my extra-large sized fiends and every size in between tell me that they would like to shop at thrift stores but they can never find their size. I don’t know what it’s like to shop for any size other than mine. However, I can imagine that some people, depending on their size, may have more difficulties than others. I do want to encourage people to not give up on second hand shopping whatever your size. eBay may be a good solution for people who don’t feel they have any luck in thrift stores. Be aware, you aren’t able to return items though eBay so this may be a bit of a gamble at times. Again, when thrift storing be persistent! The reason I have been able to create a whole wardrobe of used clothing is because I am persistent. Don’t expect to find something every time.
Vest, vintage, $3, Hospice Thrift Store, Bishop, CA. Top, BCBG, $6, Goodwill, compare @ $100 new. Pants, Citizens of Humanity, $8, Goodwill, Compare @ $198 new.
#5: Don’t stop believing
It has taken me years to feel good in my clothes. In high school I felt awkward as fuck in whatever I was wearing. It didn’t help that my family was poor as I didn’t feel as though I had a lot of shopping options based on our income. Back then I tried to shop at thrift stores because it felt affordable but I didn’t know what I liked and always settled for items that were subpar. I have noticed that the more confident I am in myself, the better I feel in my clothes and my style improves. It has literally taken me up until about a year ago (28 years) to feel really good and confident in clothing. A few years ago I decided to spend some money on brand new clothes! I thought I would feel really good because the clothes were new but when I got home from shopping the clothes didn’t make me feel any better. I ended up spending hundreds of dollars and had nothing to show for it! Spending all that money made me depressed and I decided that I wouldn’t make that mistake again. Over the years I started going to thrifts stores more and more and it was there that I discovered a style that works the best for me! Over time and with some trial and error I learned there is a magic and art to thrift store shopping that is super rewarding. Give it try, see what you can find!
#6. When to Buy new?
My rule of thumb when buying new is to only buy the essentials. The key for reducing waste is buying second hand and if that fails, limit new purchases to quality items. For instance, I searched far and wide for a year for a pair of second hand boots I can wear to work. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a pair that fit. So, I decided to buy two pairs of new, high quality boots (1 brown pair, one black) that I will wear for many years to come. That's all I need. When these shoes start to wear, I will take them to the cobbler.
#6: If you’re buying new
If you’re not convinced that thrift store shopping is the absolute best and you opt in for buying new, please buy consciously! Choose items that are made to last even if they cost more. These items will look and feel better and in the long run you will probably save money because you’re not having to constantly replace your clothing. Quality over quantity people! know that your shopping habits affect the entire world. Buy organic, eco-friendly products from companies who have awareness about their footprint. Limit your purchases. Buy only what you absolutely need. Do you really need 15 pairs of shoes? Do you need 5 pairs of shoes? Evaluate what your priorities are and why. For me the health of the planet is more important than things.
More sustainable brands that I trust are leading the fashion industry into better practices:
Running River Designs-I know this woman! She dyes and sews her garments by hand and she is wonderful!
Good luck and have fun exploring the wonderful world of second hand shopping!
Check out the awesome video below for inspiration!
Skirt, H&M found at the Goodwill, $8, compare @ $34.99 new. Wool hat, Bass, found at Disabled Sports Thrift Store, Mammoth, Calif. Compare @ $50 new.