Alternatives to Fast Fashion

In my last post, I discussed how harmful the fast fashion industry is to the environment, even though it is very affordable. When looking for more environmentally friendly options I found that sustainable brands and thrifting are the most popular alternatives to fast fashion. Sustainable clothing brands are great alternatives to shopping fast fashion because they use environmentally friendly methods of production. This means that the actual material the clothing is made out of is environmentally friendly, the labor is humane, and the packing methods are sustainable. Shopping for sustainable brands is a great option for those who can afford them, however, these sustainable brands are often expensive and cannot beat the prices of fast fashion brands. Shopping second-hand is often a better option to shop both affordably and sustainably. Second-hand shopping exists through multiple platforms: consignment stores, thrift stores, online re-sellers, flea markets, group clothing, and garage or estate sales. Second-hand clothes can be found at very affordable prices, even more, affordable than fast fashion companies can offer. Secondhand shopping also helps combat the waste problem associated with clothing and fashion. Every American throws away an average of 81.5 lbs of clothes annually, so shopping secondhand can help reduce waste as well. Secondhand shopping has also been growing as an industry in the past few decades. As of 2021, the second-hand shopping market was a 96 billion dollar market and it is projected to be a 218 billion dollar market by 2026. Shopping secondhand clearly offers an accessible, affordable, and sustainable alternative to fast fashion, however, there is some debate over its ethics of it. The argument that thrifting is unethical rests on the assumption that thrifting is taking away affordable clothing from those who need it, like lower-income people. However, this argument can be debunked when we examine the sheer amount of excess clothing in the United States. The EPA found that 84%  of all donated clothing items end up in landfill; even thrift stores are so overloaded with donations that they must throw a lot away. The excess of clothing donations in the country shows that there is simply too much clothing, so thrifting is not taking away from those in need – there is more than enough second-hand clothing to go around.

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