Ever since I was in university, I have decluttered my closet twice a year. Once in late spring and then again in the fall, when I took my seasonal clothes out of storage. And every season, I would fill up at least one large bag of clothes for donation. Some of these clothes still had tags on it while others had only been worn once or twice. I thought of myself as selfless for being generous enough to donate essentially new clothes. “Look at me, the queen of altruism.” Little did I know – I was adding to the 14 million tons of clothing that are being thrown away every year.
So this past year, instead of adding to the 14 million tons of clothes, I decided to purchase clothes from that very pile. Not only has it benefitted my wallet, but now I actually feel good about myself. Here are 3 reasons why I buy second hand clothes:
1. SAVE MONEY
After pregnancy, your body is no longer your body. My weight fluctuated up and down, my hips became wider, my feet got bigger (it’s a thing) and well, if you have ever breastfed your baby – I don’t even have to explain that. It didn’t make sense to me to buy clothes from retail stores knowing that my body is still changing. I knew I wanted to lose weight but I also needed some pieces that I could wear in transition. Thrifting for nursing friendly clothes that fit my current size and style proved to be a great option. As you probably already know, you can save an incredible amount of money shopping for secondhand shoes and clothes. I learned quickly to stray away from prints and bold colours and stick to neutrals to allow for more versatility. And bam! A whole new wardrobe and a lot more money left in the bank.
2. DECREASE WASTE
Get this: 90% of Yusra’s clothes are also thrifted. After she was born, our loved ones drowned her in new, very pink clothes. It wasn’t
my her style and since we’ve been blessed with such a tall baby, she didn’t get to wear a lot of her clothes before outgrowing them. I’m sure a lot of parents have similar stories. I thought about all the baby clothes with tags still on it in donation piles. And because majority of people are still buying from their favourite retailers while donation piles are doing just that– piling up. Luckily, there’s a great store called Once Upon a Child that purchases gently used baby items and resells them for much – I’m talking MUCH – cheaper than the original price. They are always in excellent condition and I love that all the brands I enjoy shopping from can be found in the same place.
Think about this: You wouldn’t just throw away something that’s in perfectly good condition just because you don’t wear it anymore, right? Someone should get some use out of it. And chances are, this person is going to fall in love with it, just like you did.
3. THINK ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT
Fast fashion has taken over. Our new culture is “out with the old and in with the new”. Yes that bell sleeved top may be cute and only $12, but come next summer it’ll be out of fashion and too shriveled up to donate. It’s just not made to last. Recent news has also claimed that a lot of big retailers are throwing unpurchased or defective goods in the trash which then ends up in landfills. That knowledge alone was encouraging enough for me to start purchasing secondhand. The great thing of buying second hand is that the clothes have already been worn and washed, so you already know what you’re paying for. Whatever shrinking and fading needed to happen has already happened. Social media has taught us to live an extravagant life to the fullest, sometimes beyond our means. Let’s normalize sustainability.
DON’T STOP THERE!
Clothes aren’t the only thing I buy secondhand. My family and I have started purchasing furniture, home décor, and pretty much anything that I can avoid buying at large retail stores. Supporting small businesses or second hand items is something I’m becoming more conscious of. My bedroom furniture, for example, was bought off a friend who was leaving the country. Not only was she able to get rid of a few things during her big move, but I saved myself hours of building Ikea furniture.
I understand that sometimes you have to buy something from a big retailer. But even if I do, I try not to be too hard on myself. Change isn’t going to happen overnight. But being aware and vigilant of our day to day purchases can help us get one step closer to less waste, more sustainability, and a brighter more minimal life for us and our children.