One’s Trash is Another’s Treasure

One's Trash is Another's Treasure

Carsyn Hall

One’s Trash is Another’s Treasure
Carsyn Hall

15.1 million tons of textile clothing waste was produced in 2013 alone, says the Environmental Protection Agency. Fast fashion offers more affordable clothing, but it comes at an environmental cost.

Less than 100 years ago clothing used to be seen as an investment. In the 1950s consumers spent about 20 percent of their income on clothes, according to The Student Environmental Resource Center. People would take good care of their clothes to make them last as long as possible.

However, this isn’t the case anymore. Invented in the early 20th century, fast fashion and “off the rack” shopping has increased clothing production, which has increased the amount of waste in landfills. In fact, Americans alone throw away about 10.5 million tons of clothing every year. However, buying from thrift stores decreases the amount of plastic in landfills.

Thrift stores or consignment shops offer affordable clothes, while saving the environment by reusing and recycling materials. Thrifting reduces pollution and waste by recycling and reusing clothes. 97.4% net energy is saved from reusing Cotton Clothing, according to Tree Hugger. Buying second hand clothing shrinks your carbon footprint and decreases the amount of resources it takes to create new fabric. Nearly 100% of textiles and clothing are recyclable, says The Balance. “I thrift because I like finding cool and unique clothing for cheap prices. I also know that I’m saving the planet because we are recycling clothes,” says Martin Bodourov.

People tend to misunderstand thrifting. They assume that the clothes are dirty, torn, or worn down because of their cheap prices. Despite being less expensive, secondhand items are often actually better quality than new ones. It’s a good sign that it’s durable because it lasted long enough to be donated, says Vagabondary.

Most of the time, people are just looking to give away their clothes to declutter. This means that nice brands are also donated to Goodwill and other consignment stores. “I like to donate my clothes once every three or four months. If I don’t wear them anymore or I’ve outgrown it, I like to give it away knowing that someone else will buy it and wear it like I used to. If I can’t wear it, someone else should,” says Will Balentine.

From personal experience, some of the best clothes I own came from my local Goodwill or other thrift stores. For example, I found a pair of Nike shoes that would regularly price for over $100 for $24. I’ve bought several nice clothing items such as a Ralph Lauren Polo sweater, Tommy Hilfiger jackets, and other nice brands such as Nike, Nautica, Vans, and IZOD. The clothes I’ve bought have lasted, and I will continue to wear them in the future.

Thrifting not only saves your wallet, but it saves the planet. The waste produced in landfills from fast fashion rots and decomposes, producing harmful gases such as CO2 and methane, which are both greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming, says Imacademics.