If Macklemore didn’t persuade you to start thrift shopping in 2013, it’s not too late to start. From mom jeans to recycled flannels, thrift shopping has become one of the trendiest fads in recent years. The financial benefits are obvious, especially for us college kids, but this trend benefits far more than our bank accounts. Between carbon emissions from production and distribution, water pollution, and clogged landfills, the textile industry puts a pretty heavy dent in the health of the environment. Inadvertently, environmentalism has become the new black!
The effects of overpopulation and rapid globalization have caused the textile industry to skyrocket. Because the demand is so high, most large textile corporations have moved their manufacturing to countries like China, Bangladesh, India and Cambodia, where more work gets done for less pay. Not only does this perpetuate the maltreatment of workers, these countries do not have strict environmental laws, causing much of the toxic dyes used in clothes to be directly deposited into clean water. This water poses a significant health risk for citizens, and also limits the amount of clean water available. Furthermore, if companies like H&M, Walmart, and Topshop continue their mass production of these goods at such a rapid rate, once the new trend is in, the old clothes get thrown out and end up in landfills.
Stores like Goodwill and Savers have taken the initiative to offer an inclusive shopping experience by selling recycled clothing, household items, shoes, CDs, and more at an extremely low price. Many people rely solely on these stores to purchase the things that they need. However, more and more people are choosing to thrift shop over purchasing clothes through retail stores. This is great news for the environment and for building a financially stable community. If you haven’t checked out any of the thrift stores around Fargo-Moorhead, there are nearly twenty options just minutes away.
I know some of you may be wary of buying recycled clothing, because I’ve definitely been there. If you’re worried about clothes being clean, most stores do clean them before selling them, but you’re always welcome to throw your newly recycled clothes in the washer when you get home. While thrift stores are great for getting some cute, retro clothes for your next coffee date at Babb’s, they can be somewhat limited for options and sizes. I hope that if this trend continues, more people will begin recycling their clothes, allowing the options to expand and the retail clothing industry to decline.
I know many of you will continue to buy clothes at the mall or order them online, and that’s OK. Realistically, I will too. However, I think the amount of clothing we buy from retail stores is the problem, especially considering that trends move faster than we are able to keep up, so we end up overexerting our funds and feeding into a never-ending cycle of mass clothing production.
I think it’s also important to note that by normalizing thrift shopping, it ends the stigma that only “poor people” shop at thrift stores, which is completely untrue. Thrift shops were originally created so that everyone had an equal opportunity to buy the things that they need, not to only serve the poor.
If you’re looking to reel in your budget, help out the local community, and lower your personal carbon footprint, thrift shopping is the way to go. I also encourage you to donate some of the clothes you no longer wear, because it is a great way to declutter your closet while simultaneously contributing to a positive environmental and local cause. Happy thrifting, Cobbers.