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Local Thrift Shopping and Sustainability In The Fashion Industry

July 23, 2020by Taylor Dodson1

Many of us have been there. We’ve cleaned out our closets, seeking a fresh start, or gathered old belongings that would be more appreciated elsewhere. Bags full of stuff are then lugged over to your local Goodwill, ready to be picked up by someone new. But how impactful is this practice, really?

The truth is, both donating to and purchasing from thrift shops are incredibly important to global efforts in sustainability!

Keep Items Out Of Landfills

Bird's eye view of landfill during daytime.

When you donate an item instead of tossing it in the trash, you’re giving that item a chance at a new life – and keeping it out of a landfill. It can sometimes take hundreds of years or more for garbage to decompose, particularly items made of plastic or glass. Some materials can’t biodegrade at all! The waste that continues to build up over time creates methane emissions, which negatively impact our climate. The less we contribute to these piles of waste inside the Earth, the better.

Whether it’s a piece of clothing or a stack of CDs, if it’s in passable condition, it can be donated! You’re not only making a conscious choice to help recirculate items through your community. You’re also ensuring that they don’t contribute to planetary harm!

Provide Artists With New Materials

Jeff Whyte - stock.adobe.com

While your donations to a local thrift shop or consignment shop might be beloved by someone in their current condition, it’s also possible that you add some flair to an artist’s collection of crafting materials. Upcycling is the practice of taking old items and using some imagination and craftsmanship to increase their quality. This increases an item’s value, which works to keep it out of the garbage for a longer period of time. This gives the item a greater environmental, functional, and artistic appeal.

Take Advantage Of Secondhand Finds

Low angle photo of woman leaning on tree.

Thrifting has become increasingly popular over the years, as both a social experience and a way of reinventing one’s wardrobe. Additionally, vintage and designer pieces both increase the appeal of secondhand shopping. You can count on thrift stores to sell these items at prices below their original retail value!

Thrifting is a fun way to experiment with your style on a budget. It’s also an incredible way to support the slow fashion movement! In turn, you’re refraining from supporting unethical businesses, particularly those in the fast fashion realm. 

Fast fashion is cheap, mass-produced clothing that is created incredibly quickly to ensure that its release coincides with current trends. Clothing of this quality often only lasts a few wears, resulting in your need to replace it. This means many items end up in – you guessed it – landfills. When clothing needs to be replaced, many people look to fast fashion companies once again for affordable selections. This only continues the cycle.

Counter The Fast Fashion Industry Through Education & More Sustainable Practices

Collection of clothes on hangers.

In essentially all stages of their existence, fast fashion items have a negative environmental impact, from the way they are produced to where they end up once they’re deemed useless. In fact, corporations mass produce so many articles of clothing that they surpass demand. Much of these brand new items end up being disposed of as a result. Additionally, the factory workers who craft these garments are typically not adequately paid and don’t work under safe conditions.

Thankfully, more and more awareness is being spread about the dangers of fast fashion. Sites like Good On You, Eco Stylist, and Remake are dedicated to providing in-depth reviews of numerous brands across the fashion industry. These resources help educate consumers on what qualities they should look for from both artisans and their clothing.

Many sustainable and ethical brands charge far beyond what many people are used to paying for clothing. This is because these brands are paying their workers fair, livable wages, providing them with safe workspaces, and sourcing materials that are harder to gather and work with (but are better for the planet). While this is an amazing effort, this turns shopping for clothing into an investment as opposed to a regular hobby. This encourages shoppers to be more selective when choosing new garments, ensuring that they will love their new pieces for years to come. 

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Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easily accessible practice. Those who can afford to redirect their spending power towards more sustainable and ethical brands certainly should. However, many people are unable to pay a premium for their clothing. Fortunately, shopping secondhand keeps clothing out of landfills while allowing you to stick to a limited budget. You can also intentionally seek out ethically-made clothing through these secondhand resources. Simply pay attention to labels once you’re familiar with quality materials and what brands you might be looking for!

Local thrift shops are only one of the many places you can go for secondhand finds. Vintage shops and online resale companies also provide ways for you to get your hands on something preloved. As an added bonus, they often allow you to connect with community members and clothing curators along the way! Some of the more popular options for digital thrifting include ThredUp, Depop, and Poshmark. Depop and Poshmark allow anyone to sell their preloved goods from the comfort of their home. If you’re unable to bring your belongings to a local donation center but have the ability to ship small packages, these resources might be a great option for you!

Ultimately, donating your preloved goods and being open to purchasing secondhand finds are both fantastic ways to prevent further damage to our environment and ensure that items get as much use as possible. Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorite local thrift and vintage shops. Let us know in the comments what your recommendations are for ethical and sustainable shopping!

Las Vegas Secondhand Shopping

Neon Cactus Vintage is a queer WOC and Black owned business located on Fremont St. in Downtown Las Vegas! Known for their unique handmade stained glass accessories and vibrant collection of vintage pieces, Neon Cactus offers both in-person and digital shopping experiences for those looking to find the perfect new addition to their closet or their home.

California Secondhand Shopping

Wasteland is every fashion lover’s dream. Provoking inspiration for designers and trendsetters everywhere, each Wasteland location is a reflection of its unique community. A fresh collection of vintage finds are always on the racks, making Wasteland a must-stop. You can find stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Studio City, and Santa Monica.

Jet Rag is for the dedicated treasure hunters, unfazed by the idea of spending hours combing through vintage finds. From cowboy boots and evening gowns to jean jackets and bellbottoms, there’s something here for everyone. With incredible prices and the exhilarating $1 Sunday special, this Los Angeles favorite is definitely worth checking out.

At ZOOO, we’re passionate about supporting the community at large! If you’re a business owner in Nevada, California, or Japan and interested in partnering with us, reach out! We can’t wait to learn more about how we can help your business thrive.

Residents of Nevada, California, and Japan can pre-register for our app today! You’ll be the first to know when ZOOO is ready to go live. Get ready for some sweet deals from your favorite local businesses.

Taylor Dodson

Taylor is a creative content strategist originally from the Midwestern U.S. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English, Film, and Creative Writing from Lawrence University, where she served as a four-year starter on the university softball team and took on four different positions in Campus Life while pursuing her double degree. With a deep love for collaboration, Taylor hopes to apply her background in community engagement to the digital world in support of local businesses. When she’s not at work, you can find her playing Animal Crossing or hanging out at her current favorite tea shop.

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    Copyright 2018 – 2021. ZOOO INC. All rights reserved.

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