I have never understood the idea of “new is better”.
In my experience the biggest objection to purchasing something used is time, money, and energy outside of stigma - but those value points are for everyone. Saying you don't have the time to find something second hand is a lazy excuse to support capitalist exploitations and contribute to the ongoing illusion of “YOU NEED MORE” to keep us broke.
Since the beginning of time we have been conditioned (women especially) to buy more. Society and sales companies love to remind us that we don't have enough, and whatever product they’re selling will fill the void. The greed around “eco” marketing is killing the act of sustaining the planet; and we’re all to blame.
You’re probably thinking “wtf is with everyone and being sustainable?!”
Valid question - my goal is to define the over used + green washed term in a way that's relatable and in it’s true form.
The definition of sustainable is ‘able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.’
Many garment factory workers face long hours, often without rest days or contracts. Buildings might be badly modified for commercial use, with no fire extinguishers, poor electrical wiring, blocked fire exits and barred windows. Attempts to form trade unions are suppressed, sometimes violently. Workers who are injured, and the families of those who are killed, receive little compensation. -European Parliamentary Research Service
Are these sustainable working conditions for any human?
The fast fashion industry annually releases about 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming - The World Resources Institute
Are those sustainable amounts of pollution to any degree?
In most of the countries in which garments are produced, untreated toxic wastewaters from textile factories are dumped directly into the rivers containing toxic substances such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, among others. (sustainyourstyle.org)
Is that a sustainable practice for locals who need drinking water?
Cotton farming requires huge amounts of water, with many regions of the planet suffering terribly from drought, caused in part by the diversion of water from lakes and rivers to farmland for textiles. - NAT GEO
Damn Linda, are you listening yet?!
The impact that fashion has on our direct environment cannot be ignored, and by understanding why supporting fast fashion is wrong - we can steer our buying decisions to support ethical purchasing. As a community we also save money and become more resourceful by shopping second hand and avoiding impulse items.
So how can I start? Where do I start?
- Consignment, Vintage, Antique stores - these dedicated humans do the work so you don't have to. Not only will you find totally unique pieces, you’re keeping so many items from landfills. Most clothing is made of polyester, fleece, satin, nylon, and spandex - all plastic based fabrics that take years to decompose. When shopping, assert yourself to find timeless pieces that go with other items in your closet.
- Platforms like OFFERUP, POSHMARK, Facebook Marketplace, DEPOP, VINTED, and GOOGLE give zero opportunity to avoid the research behind finding what you’re looking for - sometimes the items are still brand new!
- If you’re someone with an Amazon account there is an option to purchase used! Scroll to the right side of your check out and there will be a “Buy Used” button. If I can't find what I'm looking for on a platform and resort to Bezos then my rule is it has to be second hand. This is always more affordable and they’re Prime qualified most times.
- Ask your friends and family for items. So many people have things they don’t need anymore and would be happy to let you have them. This is a great way to find furniture, kids clothes, bikes, vehicles, and more. I always search my bestie’s closet for special occasions!
- Check out some of your favorite brands sites for repairs and second life sites. Companies like Patgonia, LULULEMON, Birkenstock, Chaco, and Levi all fix/tailor their current products or have a second hand section on their site.
- Take care of the things you have. Simple, sustainable. When you care for what you have you slow the curve on needing new, and respect the items more. Let’s be real - less is more.
These principles should be consistent when making any purchase. I encourage you to try and see if you can find the items you need, at a better price, thrifted or purchased from an acquaintance.
Need a vacuum? Goodwill has 10. Dishes for your new apartment? Garage sales here you come baby. Shoes for school? Brand new kicks are waiting on depop.
And we’re all human, sometimes things can’t wait and it’s okay. But the conversation here is slowing the curve of new items. The planet does NOT have any more room for our shit, and she’s been trying to communicate that for a while now.
Natural disasters are happening faster than we can pay for them, heat and smog hit lower income communities and POC the hardest (Washington Post), world poverty and pollution is at an all time high, and while we cannot control all that...it's naive to think you cannot control your immediate surroundings.
Your actions matter, and you matter.
My love for the planet and fashion is strange and possibly contradicting, but hear me out: everything you need already exists - literally times a thousand. Furniture, clothes, cars, games, electronics, dogs, even kids if we’re being totally honest.
Most of us are privileged enough to be able to have these freedoms of choice. It’s our responsibility to use them to the best of our ability for people, and planet.
By Desiree Flynn // IG @findingflynn