Best Reason to Buy Used Clothing? Fast Fashion is Filling Our Landfills
- by Reba Collins
Fast fashion... have you heard of it?
It's our fashion industry of today. Cheap clothes that are easily disposable because of the their low cost and low quality. Fashion companies today work to have a new trend weekly so consumers will buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible.
When an item doesn't cost much, we don't give it much value. For clothing, that means if we can wear an item once or twice, that's enough, on to something new. And with the apparel industry producing more than 150 billion pieces of clothing every year (there's only 7 billion humans on the planet) there's no problem finding something new.
But what happens to all the clothes when we're done with them?
Many end up in Western Africa and Latin America, as well as many other places around the world. We think we're doing good by donating the items we no longer want, but think again.
Thrift stores like Goodwill need your used clothing to make their income but they get WAY more clothing donations than they can sell. So in order to turn their racks, they sell the items that have been around for awhile in bulk.
Many of these items go to companies that are called 'rag houses'. A typical rag house can take in as much as a 100,000 pounds of clothes every week. There are rag houses all over the country but many are located in port cites. These companies take in the clothing from thrifts and sort it by quality giving it a rank. They then try to resell it in the U.S. but the majority of it is shipped to other continents.
Countries like Kenya and Ghana are getting flooded with cheap clothes. In the U.S. used clothing is big business and we need places to send it, in fact, our government has threatened tariffs for countries that don't take it.
Aside from the problems of the fast fashion industry flooding the world's landfills with clothes, you also have to consider it's contribution to climate change. Producing polyester textiles adds 706 tons of greenhouse gases a year to our atmosphere, it takes over 700 gallons of water to produce just one cotton tee shirt, and cheap microfiber textiles like spandex, can never break down so it stays in the landfills FOREVER.
I'm not even going to talk about the problems our world has with child labor because of fast fashion. I'm sure you know.
So, what can we do about it?
Buying less overall is a perfect start. Resist trends and buy higher quality items with classic design that can be worn longer. Buying gently worn used clothing is another fabulous option.
When you buy a used piece of clothing, that's one piece that will not need to be produced. If enough people slow their buying habits and purchase more used items, the fast fashion companies will be forced to slow their production.
From my research on this subject, Gen Zers (age 13 to 21) understand what's going on and are not giving these companies their business. Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and now has new owners. Our younger generation believes that companies should help address social and environmental issues. Forever 21 was not living up to this higher standard.
Below I'll leave you with a video that left me appalled seeing what happens to all the clothes. After watching, take a look at our store, you'll love that you can not only save a ton of money buying used, but you can help save the planet too.