Thrifting for clothing is more than a passing fashion

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Second-hand clothing shopping shouldn’t be seen as a passing trend—it’s an ecologically sustainable lifestyle choice. 

The fashion industry is centred around the concept of new and passing styles. Clothing has become disposable in recent years, as industry titans have taken to promoting “fast fashion,” or faster clothing production at lower costs.

Fast fashion encourages consumers to buy and discard clothing items to keep up with seasonal trends. However, many fail to consider the impact of their shopping habits. 

While cutting corners in terms of environmental sustainability may reduce the prices of clothing items for consumers, it comes at a great cost to the planet. 

The textile dyeing processes used to achieve vibrant colours and patterns in mass-produced clothing is the second-greatest contributor to water pollution globally. The sheer amount of pesticides and water required to efficiently grow cotton isn’t sustainable. 

There’s also a negative ethical component to the fast fashion industry. To produce high volumes of clothing at a low cost, much clothing manufacturing is outsourced to developing countries with lower minimum wages and laxer work and safety regulations. 

Fast fashion, with its cheap consumer prices and ever-changing selection, is reliant on the exploitation of workers who are paid too little and exposed to toxic materials and poor working conditions. 

That’s why buying used clothing is an alternative for consumers who are striving to be more conscious of the ethical and environmental implications of their purchases. Keeping clothes in circulation for longer through thrifting reduces the demand for new fast fashion products. 

But hopping on the thrifting trend for a few weeks isn’t enough. In order to make real change, consumers need to incorporate buying used clothes into their everyday shopping habits. 

Thrifting clothing doesn’t mean sacrificing your ability to express yourself through what you wear. There’s an abundance of stylish clothing out there already, waiting to be thrifted. 

Whether it’s repurposing and altering pieces to fit your personal style, or buying something you wouldn’t have thought to pick out at the mall, buying pre-owned clothing is more fun and rewarding than the traditional shopping experience. 

Thrifting is also affordable. Purchasing used clothing is easier on your wallet than brand new clothing, even at fast fashion prices. 

Progress toward more sustainable clothing manufacturing needs to come from the fashion industry itself, but consumers have the responsibility to prioritize ethics and reduce their own environmental impact when purchasing clothing. 

While thrifting for used and vintage clothing is trendy right now, it’s an ethical and environmentally-friendly practice that should gain attention well into the future. 

Trends come and go, but sustainability should remain a constant consumer priority. 

Shelby is The Journal’s Editorials Editor. She’s a second-year English major.

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