Will Second-Hand Clothes Save the Environment?

The fashion industry plays a huge part in our everyday lives, but is the appeal of a new outfit more important than its impact on the environment? Could sustainable clothes be the answer?

Wasted clothes. Photo credit: IndiaMART

The fashion industry is one of the most influential in the world and whether or not you’re into fashion, choosing what to wear each day is a battle for everyone. The fashion industry, although influential, is becoming criticised for its major impact on the environment. Fashion sustainability site SustainYourStyle has stated that “the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world,” due to its heavy demands for natural resources as well as its output of chemical waste.

The impacts from the fashion industry are not limited, with toxic waste and water usage being the main concerns. It’s estimated that only fifteen percent of clothes are recycled. The rest is thrown into a landfill where some items can take up to 200 years to decompose. The fashion industry is also known to use 1.5 trillion litres of water each year, whilst millions of people suffer from limited access to clean water, as indicated on SustainYourStyle.

People are now changing their habits of online shopping to second-hand shopping, as the appeal of sustainable clothes is becoming more attractive. There are now numerous clothes swapping organisations throughout the world, as well as second hand and charity shops available. Melbourne based organisation The Clothing Exchange offers a sustainable approach to wearing new clothes. The organisation offers online clothes swaps between customers, as well as holding regular events in Melbourne and Sydney where anybody can come and get a few new items, guilt free!

Vintage jeans. Photo credit: Racked

There has also been a huge increase in popularity for trading websites such as eBay and Depop to sell and swap recycled clothes. There is a real sense of community through these swapping sites and vintage/ second-hand stores. The process is much more relaxed and is a vast comparison to standing in a tiny change room trying to zip up a dress that’s too tight for you, something that occurs way too often…

The fashion industry is taking a huge toll on our environment and people are starting to revolutionise the way they shop. Through using recycled clothes or brands that use sustainable products, the amount of waste created can be majorly reduced. Many people have taken to second-hand shopping as well as participating in events where people swap clothes with one another.

So, the next time you see that “must have” dress, think about whether you actually must have it. When it comes to saving the environment, every little bit helps. We’re doing our best, one vintage pair of jeans at a time!

Do you buy secondhand or recycled clothes? Let us know in the comments!