With the best of intentions, we’ve all dropped off bags of clothing at charity shops. We assume it's the "green" thing to do. We like to think that someone on the other side of the world will happily wear our old t-shirts. But what if you knew that your donations will most likely end up in a landfill unless you actively take steps to give them to people who truly need them?
Love Your Planet? Shop Vintage.
Kristin Bruce & Carla Boss
Renew, Buy Used, and Recycle
The United States has a population of about 325 million, and because of today's "throw-away culture," the average American rids her closet of more than sixty-five pounds of clothing a year. That amounts to many more used t-shirts, used shoes, used dresses, and used trousers than second-hand shops can distribute and sell. Though surplus clothing has for decades been shipped to places like Africa and Central America, the massive shipments of donations to these regions has wreaked such havoc on local industries that many governments have considered banning or taxing them altogether. These days, the debate is particularly heated in Rwanda. Meanwhile, according to current estimates, we're collectively generating 12 million tons of textile waste per year. There is a better way.
And focus on vintage pieces.
Look for well-constructed garments that were built to last. But be wary of used clothing retailers like Buffalo Exchange and Beacon’s Closet that are known to use the terms "vintage," "retro," and "worn" interchangeably. Something might be erroneously advertised as "vintage" when it's actually a fairly new used garment.
A true vintage piece is at least a generation old. Hence, it is virtually an investment in a slice of history. Whether your style is modern or eclectic, vintage designs remain relevant because fashion is cyclical, and vintage fashion always comes back on trend.
Vintage garments also tend to appreciate over time because of their high quality and rarity. The same unique item is unlikely to appear twice in one shop -- or even in one city! The older it gets and the longer you own it, the more your vintage jacket will be worth. What a contrast to the fast-fashion threads that are worn a couple times and then discarded within a year! Indeed, would you rather sport a pair of original 1989 Levi Jeans or a cheaply-made lookalike from H&M? I’ll take the '89 Levi’s, thanks.
No New Fibers! No New Waste!
The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Toxic dyeing and finishing processes are extremely harmful to our natural resources. And there's no telling the long-term effects of the genetic modifications we've imposed on millions of cotton farms. When you shop vintage or second-hand, you alleviate environmental harm by reducing the need to buy or make new garments from virgin fibers.
Another advantage of shopping vintage is that it is a less expensive sustainable option. Though the so-called "sustainable fashion movement" began in the 1990s, brands claiming to be "environmentally sustainable" have not had mass appeal due to their higher costs of production.
Though shopping vintage might not stop millions of fashion designers from producing new clothes each season, it could force the retail industry to think twice about their approach to consumers. Several designers are incorporating second-hand clothing into their creative process. And even H&M is jumping on the vintage bandwagon. Conscious consumerism can truly make a differencel!
Your decisions matter. Vintage clothing is cheaper than luxury sustainable fashion lines, but if you can’t afford vintage, do support your local designers and businesses instead of fast-fashion brands that produce unethically. In addition to shopping vintage, shopping from domestic, responsible brands like ours is your best bet to fashionably saving the planet.
Here at CBoss Coats, we sell vintage-inspired trench coats that are made in the United States. Our durable water-resistant fabrics, luxurious linings, tailored bodice, and pleated skirt will give you the same appeal and quality as a vintage overcoat. It's the perfect option for those of you who like the classic look of vintage but hate the idea of wearing someone else’s hand-me-downs!