So, metal straws are great. I’m drinking out of one right now as I write this. Reusable bags are cool too- I keep a couple of canvas totes hanging on the door of my room for when I go shopping, but what’s even better, at least for the environment, is if what goes in your bag isn’t brand new.
Thrift stores, consignment stores, vintage shops, garage and lawn sales- even ordering a second hand piece from an Instagram store or on Depop (a thrifting app) can bring a piece of someone else’s wardrobe to you. Once you get past the initial nerves (“Okay, but someone else wore this!!”, “How do I know no one died in this??”, etc.) it gets really fun.
I have gotten in the habit of going to the thrift store about once a month to scavenge for some new pieces. Each time I spend roughly $30 but walk out the America’s Thrift Store automatic doors with a (reusable) bag full of new stuff. Well, new-ish. I’ve gotten everything from t-shirts, jackets, jeans, belts, bags, and even a pair of white sneakers that became my go-to shoes for about 6 months. (Those were $3, may they rest in peace.)
Yes, every time I walk in I am met with the familiar and strange thrift store smell that I can’t ever quite place, but that’s alright. One wash and wear and whatever I buy starts smelling like All detergent and usually not much else. Besides, the thrift store is a great place to find decades-old pieces that I really love, rather than spending the same amount of money on a low-quality item from somewhere like Forever 21 or H&M that *might* last a couple of washes, max.
Clothes damage the earth a lot more than you think. I mean, it’s a long process to make that t-shirt you’re wearing: growing and harvesting the cotton, turning it into thread and then to fabric, sewing it into a shirt, shipping it to a store— you can imagine how much all of that entails. So, the more clothes you buy second hand, the less go to waste, and you’ll be less likely to buy a brand new item similar to what you’ve thrifted. You’re saving all of the waste attributed to those new clothes by recycling old pieces instead. If that piece happens to be a super cool vintage Nike jacket, well, that’s even better for you.
In Alabama, there are lots of thrift stores scattered around larger cities. Where I live, in Tuscaloosa, the massive America’s Thrift Store on Skyland is the most popular. However, not many people shop there often- especially not young people. In fact, the only time I’ve seen teenagers around is during football season, when they look for t-shirts from rival schools for spirit days (like my school’s “Country Fry County High” theme includes lots of royal blue Tuscaloosa County High School shirts.) It’s a missed opportunity for local youth to show their passion for the environment (and fashion, of course.) So grab a reusable bag and head to your nearest thrift store- you may be surprised by what you find.
For more information on waste from the fashion industry, I’d highly recommend ‘The True Cost’, available on Netflix.
Written by: Jennifer Stroud / @jennifer_stroud
Photo by: Jennifer Stroud / @jennifer_stroud
Edited by: Isabel Hope / @isabama / @isabamahope