Greener Alternatives: Second-hand Clothing

Last month, I visited a pop-up costume museum. While I was there I met and spoke with the curator, and she opened my eyes to an environmental issue that I hadn’t considered before: fast fashion. She told me that the fast fashion industry is the second worst industry for the environment after Big Oil. After looking into it, I can see why.

In the past, most clothing designers had two main clothing lines, spring/summer and fall/winter. Today, the fashion industry is made up of “micro seasons” wherein new items are constantly being added and taken out of stores. Because of this, trends change a lot faster, making people feel like they need to buy more clothes to stay in-season.

Canadians throw away millions of tonnes in textiles alone, producing mountains of landfill. Imagine what percentage of those trashed clothes could have been donated or repurposed. It’s not a sustainable model.

Here are a few greener alternatives to the fast fashion industry:

  1. Buy from ethically-sourced businesses. Admittedly, this comes with a higher price point, which is one of the reasons fast fashion is so successful with their cheaply made, cheaply sold clothing. Look for ethical vendors online, or check out local artisans.
  2. Shop at thrift stores. Great option when you’re looking for a specific item, like jeans or jackets.
  3. Attend clothing swaps. 

Clothing swaps are my favourite alternative, by far. Not only do you get to unload a your old clothes, but you get to rummage through everyone else’s old clothes…for free! You can even plan one a private swap amongst friends and family.

I’ve attended a few public clothing swaps now, and have found some of my favourite wardrobe staples. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” I quote to you, as I wear a shirt I got from a clothing swap, a hand-me-down jacket from my brother, and a giveaway scarf from when my friend moved to Quebec.

Dressing yourself in a less impactful way is possible. Give it a try, you just might fall in love with the hunt.

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2 Responses to Greener Alternatives: Second-hand Clothing

  1. Colleen says:

    I love thrift stores. I can recycle and save money. My favorite is watching Peyton going through hand me down clothes, and because they are not expensive, she can alter them to her own style, so we are supporting her creativity. I donate to Value Village because it supports Diabetes but other thrift stores support many social programs and other research.


  2. Kaitlin Vitt says:

    Couldn’t agree more! I’ve never done a clothing swap (besides getting sibling hand-me-downs) but love thrift stores. My favourite is MCC Thrift at Chalmers and Watt.


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