With rampant consumerism of fast fashion ending up in landfills, thrift shopping has become a trendy alternative solution to reduce waste and combat climate change. Minizining the environmental impact of clothing waste is important because it is estimated by the EPA that 11.5 trillion tons of textile waste ends up in landfills.
Fast fashion is a business model of companies like H&M, Shein, GAP, and many others that mass produce cheap quality clothing at a low cost and charge a high price in retail. Much of the cheap clothing ends up in landfills. It would be more responsible for consumers to benefit from thrift shopping than supporting fast fashion brands.
“Fast fashion is all about cheap products that could be made as quickly as possible versus quality made to last. So fast fashion often tears quickly, isn’t made to last, and we find people purchase fast fashion to wear it once, maybe twice, then they throw it out,” said Hailey Corum, the ASI Director of Sustainability at Cal State East Bay.
In a study called “The Phenomenon of Thrifting As An Alternative Solution Related to Reducing Environmental Impact on Fast Fashion” found that “thrifting activities have a very good impact on the environment, because they not only minimize the fast fashion industry, but also reduce chemicals and clothing waste that are very difficult to decompose.”
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing worry about climate change, thrift shopping became a trend on social media during the pandemic from Instagram and TikTok. While many teenagers started thrifting because it is trending, many realize it also reduces clothing waste.
“Thrifting can help you think about your consumerism patterns by realizing pre-loved items are perfectly good to own, and there are other ways that you can contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle by purchasing second-hand items,” said Corum.