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Did you know that in 2013 13 million of tonnes of textile have ended in landfill or incinerators? That is the equivalent of the weight of more than two million average-sized male elephants. Whether you are already a responsible fashion buyer or not, here are some extra reasons to head to second-hand stores on your next fashion expedition.
To save energy and water
By not contributing to creating new clothes, you contribute to avoiding pollution coming from the chemicals used to dye, launder and treat our clothes. It can take up to 2700 litres of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt. How many litres of water has your wardrobe cost so far?
To stop financing a cruel industry
Unless you live on Mars, you’ve heard of the Rana Plaza tragedy that killed 1134 people and injured another 2500 in Bangladesh in 2013. If you look at your clothes’ label, you’ll find out that they have travelled many kilometres before getting into your hands. The majority of people working in the fashion industry are unable to afford life’s basic necessities. Many of them are exploited and have to work in unsafe and dirty conditions with very low pay.
Want to know more about it? Watch the True Cost, a movie that follows the filmmakers travelling around the world to showcase the impact the fashion industry has on the planet and on its workers’ lives.
To decrease the risk of intoxication through chemicals present in new clothes
When buying new clothes, a lot of us just think “ohh other people have tried it on before me but it should still be sort of clean so I don’t need to wash it before wearing it”. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth, no matter the price tag. The main danger isn’t coming from other people wearing it but from the chemicals that new clothes contain. Ever wondered how clothes could look so wrinkle-free despite having spent a few days or weeks in a hectic store? Or how clothes could be preserved from mould during their long and humid ride from their production country to yours? Or how dyes could stick on clothes for so long? Well, azo dyes, formaldehyde and many others came to the rescue. And they are all known to cause skin irritation. By buying second-hand clothes, you just avoid contact with all of those chemicals, it is as simple as that.
To save money
Although that should probably not be the main reason for not buying brand new clothes, you’ll end up saving a lot of money, which is always a perk!
Care for your clothes like the good friends they are.
Image source: Moose — thank you.
Morgane is a London-based writer passionate about sustainable living, ethical fashion and social justice.