Green Tips: Thrifting Your Threads

Green Tips | November 30, 2018

Are you thinking of gifting clothing to your friends or family this holiday season, or stocking up on winter clothes? Don’t forget to consider the carbon footprint of clothes.

With companies like Zara and H&M flooding the market with massive volumes of clothes at low prices, it’s no surprise that textile waste in America is at an all-time high. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 16 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2014, and they estimate that it’s rising. Of this waste, 10.5 million tons was sent to landfills, with only 2.5 million tons recycled. These numbers are disappointing, considering that textile waste made up about 6% of the total solid waste in 2015. How can we improve?

Textile recycling is one way, however, the technology is very limited. Only about 0.1% of fabrics collected through donations and charities is actually recycled into new clothing. This means the rest is either turned into rags for industrial use, combusted for energy generation, used as various fillers, or for other downgraded functions.

Without sufficient recycling methods (at the moment) what can we as consumers do to reduce our textile waste?

Give secondhand shopping a try! Not only will you reduce your waste and save money, but you can also find unique items not found in the box stores. Here are some tips for making the most out of your thrift shopping experience:

Give Back:

Make room in your closet first by donating or selling some of your used clothes. Make a couple bucks by looking for a store that buys – not just accepts – used clothes, like Buffalo Exchange or others.

Make a List:

Be prepared before you set out to the thrift store. Many of them have tons of options, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Just like when you go to the grocery store, make a list of what you’re looking for so that you don’t get distracted or end up with things you don’t actually need.

Set a Budget:

Just like making a list of what to buy, be prepared and figure out ahead of time how much money you want to spend. Thrift stores can have some really cool and unusual pieces, but if you keep piling them in your cart, you may end up spending and buying more than you originally intended.

Give it a Try:

Make sure to try on clothes before taking them home! Since most clothing in thrift stores is pre-owned, it may not fit the way brand new clothing does. A lot of thrift stores will accept returns, but not all will. Give it a try beforehand to know for sure. It also gives you the opportunity to scan pieces for stains, holes, or any other imperfection that may deter you from making the purchase.

Bring a Friend:

Not only is thrift shopping with a buddy a fun activity to do together, but it’s also helpful to have a friendly pair of eyes helping you pick out unique pieces. Try splitting up and seeing what you can find. Then come together and compare.

However and wherever you decide to start your thrift shopping experience, we hope you find what you’re looking for. The planet and your wallet will thank you.

Want to know more? Check out these links! Textile Waste Infographic

The Balance Small Business  Textile Facts and Figures

EPA Textile Waste Report 2016

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