May 25, 2024

The Environmental Benefits of Shopping for Discounted Apparel

5 min read

Between 2000 and 2015, fashion production doubled. Consumers buy more clothes than ever before and keep them for less time, discarding them as quickly as trends shift.

This constant consumption causes a lot of waste and pollution. Luckily, there are ways to reduce the impact of our clothing choices. Shopping for discounted apparel can help.

Reduces Demand for New Clothes

The fashion industry generates huge amounts of textile waste each year. Cotton alone requires thousands of gallons of water to produce, and it can take hundreds of years for synthetic fabrics to decompose and release greenhouse gases when they do. Purchasing new clothing reduces the demand for secondhand clothes, which is better for the environment and your wallet.

Before clothing even gets to the racks at Goodwill, it takes a significant amount of energy to manufacture and transport. This creates carbon emissions and pollutes the environment, especially when fossil fuels are used. Consumers have become more aware of the environmental impact of buying new clothing, and they are frequently asking apparel businesses to expand their commitment to sustainability.

Shopping for discounted apparel reduces the demand for new clothing and supports a sustainable lifestyle. It encourages sustainable practices, reduces chemical pollution, fosters a culture of mindfulness, conserves energy, and contributes to the development of a circular economy. It also helps to minimize textile waste, which is a major contributor to biodiversity loss and habitat destruction.

Reduces Chemical Pollution

The fashion industry is a massive contributor to pollution around the world. Its “take, make and dispose” business model creates huge waste that includes everything from discarded fabric to microplastics released by washing new garments. The dumping of these synthetic particles in waterways has outsize impacts on wildlife and human health.

The exploitation of natural resources to produce clothes is also highly polluting. For example, cotton farming uses 4% of all nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers and 16% of all insecticides. When those chemicals are washed into waterways, they kill fish and contaminate ecosystems.

Shopping for discounted clothing reduces the demand for the apparel that needs such harmful chemicals to be produced. That can prompt brands to invest in eco-friendly materials and production techniques to lessen their footprint. In addition, the reuse of clothes and fabrics reduces the need for new clothing to be made — a key component of the circular economy. Patagonia, for instance, uses recycled polyester in some of its products to help lower its environmental impact. It also promotes repairing existing clothing and buying secondhand clothing to further decrease the impact on the planet.

Encourages Sustainable Practices

Shopping secondhand clothes helps reduce the demand for new clothing. This cuts back on the amount of pollution and water usage that goes into creating and distributing clothes. Plus, it helps reduce the amount of land that needs to be used to produce clothing materials, thus preserving natural habitats.

Additionally, buying secondhand clothes encourages ethical consumption. Shopping at a thrift shop or local clothing store supports small, neighborhood companies that are more likely to practice fair labor standards and eco-friendly materials than big-name fast fashion retailers.

While research suggests that many consumers care about sustainability, only a handful regularly prioritize it in their purchasing habits. To close this gap, brands need to employ strategies that demonstrate a clear understanding of consumers’ profiles and purchasing drivers. They also need to communicate a clear and compelling message about product impact to overcome the attitude-behavior gap. Lastly, the use of “green” marketing claims should be scrutinized to ensure that they are accurate and not misleading. (Lee et al. 2020).) By fostering a culture of mindfulness, shoppers can become more aware of the environmental and social impacts of their shopping choices.

Supports the Circular Economy

The fashion industry operates within a linear system, using large amounts of nonrenewable resources to create clothes that are worn for a short time and then discarded. This wasteful approach puts pressure on natural resources and pollutes and degrades the environment.

In order to address these issues, the industry needs to shift to a circular economy that reduces waste and pollution and keeps materials in use. To do this, clothing and textile companies need to offer more durable styles that can be reused or repurposed rather than simply discarded as soon as a new style comes out.

For example, resale and rental platforms allow people to give their old clothes a second life instead of sending them to landfills. Another solution is for brands to promote clothing repair and care, and to encourage consumers to buy their garments secondhand. Sustainability-focused outdoor clothing and gear company Patagonia is a great example, having invested in the development of its Worn Wear program to support repairs and extend garment life cycles.

Shoppers also need to avoid consuming single-use plastic bags, which cause massive environmental disasters on land and at sea, killing 100,000 marine animals each year. This means avoiding taking single-use bags to stores and bringing your own bag when you shop online.

Fosters a Culture of Mindfulness

The practice of shopping for secondhand clothing fosters a culture of mindful consumption (MC). MC is a mindset that promotes conscious choices about consumer behavior, which ultimately results in reduced waste and minimizing environmental impact.

For example, when you buy a cotton shirt or sweater at a thrift store, you’re reducing the amount of water used in making it, since most clothing is made from this sustainable resource. The fashion industry uses 20% of the world’s waste water, so each time you choose to shop for secondhand apparel over new, you are helping reduce this hefty environmental burden.

Moreover, when you shop for secondhand apparel, you’re supporting your local community by purchasing from thrift stores and small businesses. This helps small businesses stay alive and thrive, which in turn supports the local economy as a whole.

Overall, the benefits of shopping for secondhand clothing are immense and long-lasting. It reduces the demand for fast fashion, minimizes textile waste, discourages chemical pollution, and encourages sustainable practices. It also fosters a culture of mindfulness and supports the circular economy, all while saving you money.

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