It's April-which means it's Earth Month. Every year, Earth Month rolls around when we try to learn about ways to be even better stewards of our planet. What if I told you that by local resale shopping alone, you could lessen your environmental footprint? It’s true! Shopping resale in general is a greener way to shop, it is recycling after all. The three arrows depicted in the recycling symbol stand for (say it with me) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
By shopping at Portland consignment shops, you’re making a stand for BOTH of the first two of those commitments. Reduce your purchases of new merchandise by scooping up some sweet resale treasures, and reuse them. If you’re a consignor, even better! We’re all for buying new sometimes, we all need things that we can’t readily find at consignment shops, and sometimes when you’re on a deadline, you don’t have time to wait and browse until it comes in. We get it. Besides, if women didn’t buy new clothes at least occasionally, our consignment pipeline would dry up pretty quickly.
We’re also fans of online resale, however- and this is a biggie – when you think of all the packaging and fuel it takes to ship items to you, or worse, if they don’t fit, ship them back? That’s not as environmentally friendly as shopping at a local Portland women’s consignment shop and taking your purchase home without boxes, tape and so forth. You can even skip a (recycled) bag at checkout if you prefer!
In addition to shopping local consignment shops in Portland, what other steps can you take to lessen your fashion footprint?
Eschew fast fashion, or resolve to buy less from fast fashion companies. They are major contributors to global pollution and carbon output. We’re not saying never, but here are some startling numbers:
- The number of garments produced each year has doubled in the last decade. Nearly 120 billion pieces a year! Fast fashion brands are focused on producing quickly and cheaply, using low cost labor.
Producing things fast doesn’t usually make for the highest quality, so it’s no wonder that the materials and construction techniques of fast fashion don’t produce clothing that retains value or lasts for the longer term. Fast fashion is designed to last a season or until you’re tired of it, which can happen quickly. Many women's consignment shops won't even accept the lower quality fast fashion brands because we know the value isn't there. It's often cheaply made and cheaply sold, so it isn't even worth the labor it takes us to process it. That's sad. Something to consider before buying fast fashion is that it won't often be worth reselling.
- Cotton is resource intensive. It relies on huge amounts of water - between 900 and 4000 gallons of water per pound. It’s also hugely reliant on pesticides and insecticides.
And of course, where do those pesticides and insecticides come from? Many pesticides are also produced from petroleum products. And the end result is that pesticides and insecticides end up in our waterways and oceans, causing algae blooms and reducing our water quality. They also end up being ingested by fish and other animals.
- We love easy care fabrics, but synthetics are made from oil. With every washing, they shed thousands of microplastic fibers which pollute our water and environment. These are also ingested by aquatic animals.
Sometimes it can feel like there are no good options. Cotton is resource intensive, but many synthetics are oil-based and shed microplastics. What’s a fashion-minded woman to do? We recommend seeking out organic cottons or eco-friendly fibers like hemp or recycled polyesters and nylons. Many fashion-forward thinking brands like Everlane are rethinking the model of fast fashion and producing clothing using ethical employee treatment and factories that are more humane.
- Fast fashion encourages a constant shopping model. Low quality garments are often thrown away after only a few uses. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates a garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second. A family in the western world throws away an average of 66 pounds of clothing each year. 73 percent is buried in landfills or burned.
A garbage truck EVERY SECOND?!! That’s literally tons of textiles going into landfills everyday. Imagine if even half of those items could be reused, repurposed or recycled. But it does require work and attention. Throwing something in the garbage and not thinking about it again is easy and takes no thought. But all our trash ends up somewhere. Making it easier to recycle or get textiles to depots that can process them is easier than you think. And just dumping unusable, stained or damaged clothing at not-for-profit organizations is not the best solution either. Not-for-profits need to pay people to process donations, and then they inherit the burden to transport it to textile recycling. So, seek out places that specifically recycle textiles. Our very own Metro can help!
- Garment workers are often subjected to horrible working conditions and abuses. Low wages and lack of worker protections keep them trapped in their jobs.
We want to feel good in our clothes, right? Why buy clothing that rewards the bad companies that are uncaring about their workers? There is a better way – shopping at resale and consignment stores! An added benefit, is that a much larger percentage of money spent at local consignment shops and other locally-owned businesses stays in our local market suporting other local business, employees and local jobs; not sent to out of state corporations.
- Most of the clothing is produced far from consumers, often in multiple countries. Clothing travels thousands of miles to get to market, creating a huge carbon footprint.
It blows our minds just thinking about all the packaging that is also getting thrown away, and the vehicle miles it logs to get to us. During the pandemic online shopping has mushroomed, and rightly so! It’s easy and convenient. And who doesn’t love getting fun packages dropped off at your day within days? Nobody, that’s who. So, when you do indulge, just be sure to recycle your packaging appropriately, and shop with vendors that don’t use packaging that is difficult (or impossible!) to recycle.
Shopping locally can also be easy and convenient, with most resale shops open for in-person shopping again, and inventory that’s refreshed daily. Many women’s consignment shops, including Here We Go Again, have also shifted to doing online sales. When you shop our website, you can select in-store pickup for a low-impact option. We’re careful to use or re-use packaging that is recyclable, biodegradable, and environmentally sensitive. When possible, we reuse shipping boxes, and were thrilled to find poly shipping bags this year that are biodegradable.
In addition to our colorful, easy to shop website, Here We Go Again also offers live sales on Facebook three times every week. It’s fun and often hilarious, and you can purchase items right then and there! If you want to the best new items before they hit the floor, plus all the joking around and wackiness that a resale store can muster, we’re live every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:15pm and Sundays at 11:15am on our Facebook page. Our live sales typically feature the latest and the best of our new arrivals, but occasionally we’ll have a theme night, (e.g. all jewelry or shoes) and a few times each year, we have a crazy event called Half-y Hour, when everything is half price.
And of course we can’t complete this cycle of Reduce Reuse Recycle without the third component of the cycle – RECYCLE! Clothing and other textiles like sheets, towels, dishcloths and the like don’t have an unlimited lifespan. In other words, things sometimes just wear out and are no longer useable. That doesn’t mean they should go in the trash, however! There are several companies in Portland that recycle textiles of all kinds, including one that will pick them up for free right from your front porch. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, I tested it just to make sure, and contacted Just Porch It, a west coast company with offices in Portland. They arranged a pickup of a bag of worn out jeans, towels, undergarments and more, within a day of my email. I was stunned, to say the least! Perhaps my timing was just right, or perhaps they really are out picking up every day, but it was great to find the bag gone early the next day, knowing those worn out unusable items were on their way to fashion recycling heaven. They take shoes, belts, hats, handbags and more, too!
So, in a nutshell, shopping at local consignment and resale shops near you is a great environmental bargain. Take advantage of the savings, being able to touch and try on garments, experiment with new styles, or just ask for a bit of advice about your selections-at Here We Go Again, we are literally here for it!