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How Shopping Secondhand Helps the Environment

Posted by Aimee Dierbeck on Jul 13, 2020 9:29:23 AM

When you’re looking for an on-trend piece at an affordable price, your first inclination is to head on out to your favorite fast fashion retailer. Specializing in the mass production of trendy pieces with cheap price tags, these items are meant to be worn for a season and discarded. Not exactly environmentally-friendly, is it?

While there are plenty of brands that offer trendy and sustainable fashions at a premium price, shopping secondhand is an affordable and environmentally responsible choice with a global impact. Here are three ways in which shopping secondhand helps the environment:

1. It Keeps Clothing Out of Landfills:

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans alone throw away more than 20 billion pounds of clothing and textiles each year. Compare that to the 12.5 billion pounds in 2000 and 4.6 billion pounds in 1980, that’s an alarming increase.

2. It Reduces the Amount of Resources Wasted:

Globally, the fashion industry uses some 21 trillion gallons of water – or about 2% of the volume of Lake Michigan – each year to manufacture textiles and clothing. Cotton, while a natural textile that is biodegradable, is also environmentally demanding. Did you know that a single pair of jeans can take over 1,800 gallons of water to make? Beyond that, synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic are produced from oil-derived petrochemicals – not only are they not biodegradable, they’re dependent on fossil fuels.


3. It Reduces Pollution:

Did you know that the fashion industry is second only to the oil industry in pollution? A huge contributor of greenhouse gasses, it’s estimated that it will use up to 25 percent of the world’s carbon budget. Synthetic fibers aren’t completely to blame, either. Not to pick on cotton, but, in addition to being one of the most resource-intensive materials, it’s also responsible for one sixth of all pesticides used globally. According to the World Health Organization, each year, 20,000 people in developing countries die from cancer or suffer from miscarriages as a result of chemicals used in conventional cotton production.



Sustainability is in Our DNA

Did you know that Goodwill is one of the largest recyclers in the United States? Each year, we keep hundreds of millions of pounds of items out of local landfills by recycling and repurposing everything from clothing to plastic toys. Plus, every donated item sold in our retail stores helps support our mission of training, supporting and employing people with disabilities and disadvantages in Southeastern Wisconsin and the Metropolitan Chicago area. Click here to learn more about what good Goodwill is doing for the environment.

While shopping secondhand may not completely offset the harm that the fast fashion industry is causing to our environment, reducing that harm even a little can have a huge impact. If you’re interested in a more sustainable way to shop, click here to find a Goodwill store near you.

Topics: rake reuse, recycle, Shop Secondhand, Reduce