If you were to wager a guess, how many pounds of clothing do you think we toss each year? If you were to guesstimate in dollars, how many clothing items are shopped and returned each year from online purchases in Canada?
According to the Council of Textile Recycling, Americans toss 25 billion pounds of clothing every single year. Of that 25 billion pounds of garments, only 15% are being donated. Also staggering, 85% are being thrown into landfills. Read that again.
The quality of clothing has also created some of this increase as the synthetic fibres being used are of less quality. This showed up in statistics that between 1999 and 2009 the clothing waste increased by almost 50% and has increased each year.
In Canada, since the surge of online shopping, shopping sales are up to $46 billion a year. There is also an abundance of returned items as they don’t fit properly, disliked, or different than pictured. Many of these items end up in liquidation centres upon return.
When I was younger, I loved to show off a new “name brand” item. In high school you were all that and a bag of chips if you were sporting an Izod polo shirt and some high-top Converse kicks. I remember my kids and their Hollister clothing phase and my son’s Billabong name brand clothing stage.
I know as a teen I couldn’t imagine shopping second hand but as a mother I commonly thought “those Hollister jeans are how freaking much money?”
“Gucci… that’s $50 for a T-shirt! $50 for a T-shirt? That’s just some ignorant. I call that getting swindled… I call that getting tricked by a business…” – song Thrift Shop by Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis.
Many people are actively switching gears in their clothing game. Whether from an environmental motive or a less consumerism approach, folks are understanding the excessiveness and waste we are producing with our clothing.
When I travelled to the United Kingdom a few years ago, I remember walking down the main street of Cardiff, Wales and observing that about every third store was a thrift store. They sold second-hand clothing either at a small profit for themselves or they were to benefit a specific community organization. I happily found the most adorable and unique tops there.
Gratefully, Canadian attitudes toward second-hand clothing shopping are changing. There are more second-hand stores as well as community online forums to sell and trade clothing that is no longer wanted by one person but desired by another. Popular for adults and kids clothing, my friend just bought a bag of clothing for their child on Facebook from another mom whose child outgrew her clothing for $20. A bag of adorable outfits that didn’t break the bank or add to landfill!
For some, there is shame and stigma to thrift shopping that is suggested as if shopping second-hand makes them poor or unfashionable and not current fashion trend. There is also the myth that second-hand clothes are dirty, worn-out. But places that readily take donations of clothing or purchase consignment have various policies to ensure that second-hand clothing is wearable. No rips, stains, holes, etc. So, when you shop at these stores the items are made sure to be clean and in good condition.
I think it’s time we let old myths and stigmas go. Some of my cutest outfits are from used clothing retail and my partner just found the most gorgeous, high-quality Gap sweater for $8.
When recently talking to local entrepreneur, Elaina Heeran, new owner of Second Winds Boutique and Gifts in Courtland, Ont. she told me one day she just woke up with this idea to open a store in her community and decided to run with it. Heeran said she has always shopped thrift looking for vintage, one of kind and unique clothing while saving money.
“Afterall, the 3-R’s of environmental consciousness are reduce, reuse and recycle.”
Like the Second Winds Boutique and Gifts store, climate concerns are driving a boom in a newly energized resale industry while some attempt to develop a Zero Waste Wardrobe or try to create more simplicity and minimalist attitudes in a world that is complicated with attitudes of excessiveness and over-consumerism.
Heeran is excited about the business she recently opened with her mother, Shelley Heeran, as it has brought about a community mindfulness and support. “I would love to give a shout out to the members of Courtland and surrounding areas especially Stan’s Deals and Fussy Maid for their support with start up.” The Second Winds will be selling some new clothing as well purchased from liquidation centres in addition to local artisan products. Buying and selling for liquidation centres saves the clothing from ending up in garbage dumps.
Here are my 11 thrifty reasons to shop second hand.
1. Environmental impact… REUSE!
2. Unique clothing, sometimes vintage.
3. Less stuff. Try this model… buy a sweater, donate a sweater.
4. No tax. Goodwill and other organizations do not change tax.
5. Giving back. Your purchase can help a community charity.
6. Save money. Who doesn’t want that?
7. Thrill of the hunt. Finding that have-to-have item at an unbeatable price can be exhilarating!
8. Your money stays in your community. #shoplocal
9. New options. The inventory is refreshed frequently.
10. Keep up to your needs. Kids grow. Fashion always changing.
11. Quality, brand clothing for a mere fraction of their original retail cost.
We have several second-hand and consignment stores in our community where you can donate your clothing as well as buy your next outfit.
Stop by and support the new Seconds Winds in Courtland.
(Happy Healthy YOU is a wellness column by Kelly Spencer: writer, life coach, yoga & meditation teacher, holistic healer and a mindful life enthusiast! If you would like to see an article on a specific topic, please firstname.lastname@example.org).