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Fighting Fast Fashion

By: Elise Kuiper

What’s the best part about thrift shopping? I love going to the thrift store and finding a nearly-new pair of jeans for $10 or less! Or I might find a perfect worn-in cardigan for a cold winter day. Thrift stores have some of the most unique clothes with no duplicates, making our fashion choices one-of-a-kind! Even better, when we shop at Many Hands Thrift Market, we know that our money supports those living and working in Haiti–what’s better than that? But did you know that choosing to shop at the thrift store rather than buying new clothes has a global impact that extends beyond Haiti? That’s right! Thrift shopping is an easy and fun way to support good companies and actively fight against bad clothing industry practices.

There are so many sad truths about the clothing industry and its impacts on the environment and the laborers, but thrift shopping combats these bad practices. 100 billion garments of clothing are produced each year which results in a wasted 92 tons of excess textile. Many of these clothes aren’t built to last as they are made with synthetic materials that are designed to be worn a few times and then discarded. We’ve all had a piece of clothing that has started breaking after the first or second wear. This is because fast fashion brands are seeking to produce quality over quantity. However, shopping at a thrift store undermines these practices. If I stop buying from these brands, I stop giving them money to continue creating cheap garments and wasting textiles. Every single article of clothing purchased second-hand is resisting the over-production of unnecessary clothing.

The Atacama Desert in Chile has become a dumping ground for discarded clothing. Source: Aljazeera

Not only does our world make more clothes than we need, but the creation of textiles and garments can also be extremely harmful to the environment as they are made with plastics, chemicals, pesticides, and other toxins. For example, many clothes are made of polyester, which is a plastic made from petroleum. After synthetic clothing is thrown away, the landfills hold all of these clothes that won’t biodegrade for 200 years. This means that every polyester garment ever created is still on this earth. However, we can once again fight against environmental harm by shopping at local thrift stores like Many Hands Thrift Market. When we give clothing a second life, we keep it from sitting in a landfill for hundreds of years, and we reduce the amount of harm done to the environment because we are not supporting the companies that support these bad environmental practices.

Lastly, by shopping at our local thrift stores, we resist directly supporting companies who engage in the poor treatment of their laborers. Many large (and well-known) brands exploit workers–paying them an unlivable wage. These workers tirelessly make the clothing we wear and get almost no compensation for their work. I certainly don’t want my money supporting these companies who continue to hurt their employees! When we thrift shop, we honor the people who make our clothes by continuing to wear what has already been made for us. We also keep from directly supporting brands who continue to treat their workers unfairly.

Many men and women are paid an unlivable wage for working long weeks in clothing factories. Photo: Green America

Many Hands cares about Love in Action. We love through our actions. I certainly love that I can take a stand against bad fashion practices simply by shopping at a thrift store. When you and I hunt for our next best find at Many Hands Thrift Market, we demonstrate Love in Action by supporting the mission of Many Hands and resisting poor practices of fast fashion.

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