Week 15

Secondhand Shopping

85 percent of textile waste in America becomes trash

Due to their synthetic makeup, clothing that is disposed of does not decay

Americans are buying five times as much clothes as we did in the 1980s, due to fast fashion’s constant churn of new, low-quality clothing

One pair of jeans requires up to 2,000 pounds of water to produce

The New York Times and VICE

Producing and shipping new products to stores or, more often these days, directly to your doorstep, requires a lot of resources. A lot of attention lately has been focused on the fast fashion industry, which refers to popular stores like H&M and ZARA who produce cheap, low-quality clothing that keeps consumers coming back to buy more and more.

I used to shop at these stores, too. It’s hard to resist an $8 T-shirt. Even if it doesn’t fit quite right or gets holes in it after a few washes, who cares? It was only $8!

But now, I know better. I can’t tell you the last time I shopped at any of these stores. I have bought a few new items here and there, but with a closet that’s already too full of clothes as it is, the desire to add new items to my wardrobe is all but gone.

Clothes are not the only thing we buy too much of. We are inundated with messages to buy more of this and more of that, to replace perfectly good products with new-and-improved models, and the virtually uncontrollable impulse to buy something just because it’s a “good deal.” If you haven’t watched “Minimalism” on Netflix yet, it will really open your eyes to just how out of control our culture of “stuff” has become.

Of course, we do need to buy stuff every now and again. Especially with kids, who outgrow and break and wear out their clothes, toys, books every time we turn around. For most people, this means hopping on Amazon and getting new stuff shipped to your door in a matter of days or even hours. But the first place I go? Facebook.

I extolled the virtues of Facebook Marketplace in my Green Halloween post. Even better than Marketplace is my neighborhood buy/sell/trade group, which has over 5,000 members who are looking to unload stuff they no longer want, while looking for the kinds of stuff I am ready to pass on. In the past year, I have sold furniture, a stroller, toys, clothes and other items, and have bought high-quality clothing, shoes and games for my family. Today alone, I bought some clothes for my son from one person and sold two toys to someone else!

This type of consumption is known as a circular economy. Instead of buying things new, using them and then disposing of them, it’s the practice of passing things on to others to use, which means fewer new products to manufacture and less waste to dispose of at the end.

There’s a lot more I could say about this topic, but I am going to break it into several posts since it’s been a big focus of mine for a while now. Until then, I’d love to hear how you participate in the circular economy!

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