Secondhand clothing & Why its better for the planet

Are you looking to reduce your carbon footprint on the world? Have you considered purchasing your clothing secondhand? For me I’ve always loved secondhand clothing, rummaging through piles of clothes at a market not knowing what you will find is great fun. But there are other benefits to purchasing secondhand clothing which you will see below.

Impacts of fast fashion and why secondhand is the best:

  • Textile waste

One of the best ways to deal with textile waste is to expand the lifetime of a garment by handing it over to another person to enjoy for a few more years. When many clothes get discarded by people, it generates an enormous amount of waste often ending up in landfill before its time. But when those garments are used to their fullest capabilities, then clothing can take up to 10 years before touching landfill.

  • Eco-friendly

Approximately 1,800 gallons of water is required to make one new pair of blue jeans. Now that’s a lot of water! If the clothes are recycled, it means the demand for new jeans decreases and that precious water that is used to make these clothes, instead of getting lost as industrial waste, can now be used for other purposes, like drinking water and water for our farmers to feed their animals and crops.

  • Recycling

Secondhand clothing encourages and develops a recycling community. Recycling garments aids those in need and helps the environment as well. On a socio-economic level, it’s allows people to create a new identity out of branded used clothing that offers them better shot in the social world. On a society level, it develops a culture of recycling. Buying secondhand clothes assists in keeping the recycling system in place as people who can otherwise not afford these garments are able to wear them.

  • Slow down consumption

Extending the lifecycle of products also means slowing down the rate of excessive consumption, which means less waste, emissions and unfair wages. Instead of generating waste, we’re creating a circular economy of re-distributing “would-be” discarded products and giving them a new life. The knock-on effect is that the demand for new products would decrease, which would force producers to reduce their supply. Ultimately, shopping second-hand means that we’re more resourceful as a society.

You have now learnt some of the major impacts of clothing, textile waste and why should buy secondhand, the question now is where to buy? They are listed as follows.

Thrift Store Jacket

Where to Buy:

  • Markets

There are many regular markets on each month or weekend. My particular favorite market to find clothing is the Camberwell Market. It’s on every Sunday and not only has regular vintage clothing stalls it has many bric a brac finds too.

  • Op Shops

Also know as thrift stores, are often run by charities

  • Vintage Stores

Clothes from the 60s and 70s were so well made, vintage holds its value. Look for a wardrobe staples such as jackets and jeans rather than something kooky that you won’t wear. I have a leather jacket that I found at a vintage store. This style will never be out of fashion.

  • Online Market place – Ebay, Facebook, Gumtree

If you’re looking for something specific, this is the way to go as you can search what you are after. The only downfall is that you won’t be able to try on before you buy. This is where i found some brand new Doc Martens for half the price!

  • Clothes Swap Events

There are now many organized public clothes swap events popping up all around Melbourne. There are a few facebook groups that you can follow which hold regular events, including The Clothing Exchange and Suitcase Rummage.

  • Friends & Family

If you’ve got a bunch of friends all complaining that they don’t have anything to wear in their overstuffed wardrobes, you could hold your own clothes swap night? Bring all the clothes you haven’t worn in six months making sure they are all in great condition. Whatever isn’t claimed donate to charity.

Have I swayed you into your first secondhand clothing shop? Here are some useful tips to get you started.

 Tips For A Successful Shop:

  • Pick your time

A change of season is when people usually have a clean out of their closets, so this is when you’ll find some great buys. You may also find some real bargains at markets when visiting just before everyone starts packing up. Stallholders don’t want to take clothes home with them if they can help it! Also on days that are cold and rainy, or blistering hot summer days, stallholder may have less customers so you will be more successful bartering for a bargain.

  • Location

Regional areas or small country towns for markets and op shops tend to be cheaper and usually have different range of clothing. If you’re shopping in the city, try shops in an affluent suburb and you may find a designer coat that you could never afford at full price. My personal favorite is stopping by vintage and op shops in hipster areas as styles always seem to be trendier for my age group.

  • Quality over Quantity

Having an eye for quality is vital - and the key to finding great buys. Look for clothes that will always be in style. Fabrics that are eco friendly such as linens, hemp, bamboo cotton are all fabric to keep an eye out for as they are more likely to last longer and are far better to dispose of at the end of its life. Try and steer clear of polyesters and nylons as these can shed microfibre plastic into our waterways when washing. Also make sure that you inspect the clothing closely for any damage and only buy if you are able to mend the piece easily such as replacing a button.

  • Try your hand at haggling

When shopping at markets, most stallholders just want to see a little money back from their initial investment, putting you in a great position to haggle. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no. No harm done.

  • Prepare to rummage and dig deep

This is all part of the fun. Rummaging to find fabrics and styles that you may not necessarily find at a store. But remember to take your time.

  • Go with an open mind

    Keep your options open and you never know what you will find.

    • Always try it on

    Most shops have change rooms, but not everyone will have somewhere to change at a market. I usually wear leggings and a singlet top so that I can try clothes over if need be. This is where bringing a friend also comes in handy for a second opinion. You will find that sizes can vary widely between manufactures and eras that the clothes are made.

    • Upcycle & Repurpose

    If you have some sewing talents and find a fabric that you just can’t go past, you can try your hand at upcycling it into something you would wear, or repurpose the fabric into something like purses or bags.

    • Bring a friend
    I find shopping with a friend for a second opinion really helps narrow down you search for some good buys. A friend won’t allow you to purchase something that doesn’t fit you right or look good, also very helpful when there's no full length mirrors to see what you look like.


    What to do with your old clothing:

    • Donate

    Moving on your clothing that doesn’t get used is a great way to extend the life of clothing. Make sure it’s in good condition with no rips or stains.

    • Too warn out to donate

    There are a few initiatives that accept worn out clothing to be turned into textiles and rags.

      • H & M and Zara both offer donation bins as part of their environmental commitment. You can check whether your local stores stock a donation bin online. They will also accept any unwanted clothes in any condition.
      • Save Our Soles will accept any sports shoe where components are extracted – including rubber, leather and fibres and then these materials are used to manufacture new products such as gym mate, floors and playgrounds. You can drop off you shoes at participating New Balance, Converse, Globe, rebel, adidas, ASICS, Sports Power and JD Sports stores in Victoria.
      • ManRags accepts socks in a prepaid compostable satchel. They sort and clean reusable pairs of socks which are then donated to people in need. Any socks that can be salvaged will be recycled and turned into new textiles, saving them from landfill!
    • Upcycle:

    Does your clothing have an amazing print but can’t be worn? Ask yourself can it be upcycled into something new? Can it be turned into a funky bag? Or can you turn a dress into a skirt? The possibilities are endless.

    That concludes my thoughts on Secondhand clothing. If you have any other suggestions on clothes recycling programs or ways to reducing our textile waste, please leave a comment below. Happy Shopping!!!

    Comments (1)

    • Erin Lindwall on Jan 30, 2020

      Love these ideas, I love rummaging through op shops and markets too and it makes the finds extra special! I love telling people what price I paid for them (a bargain) to make people realise they can do the same!
      Great tips on clothing that’s not fit for charity, I have items at home like this that I will recycle with the suggestions you have supplied. Thanks again!

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