I have been thrifting ever since I was old enough to care about fashion. For me it has always been style choice- even at the young age of 12 and 13- I discovered that I could find unique and unusual pieces at a thrift store that would be pretty much impossible to find elsewhere. Then, as I began my journey into up cycling with my Monarch Couture clothing line I not only became more and more immersed into the world of thrifting- but, since my line was an Eco Fashion line, I also became increasingly aware of the negative environmental impacts of current commercial fashion.
Working non-profit and being a freelance artist and small business upstart for the past several years- I have been tasked with the problem of looking good on a dime- after all if you are an artist, stylist and a fashion designer- you can’t exactly look unfashionable. I, like the rest of you have oft been reeled in by the $5-25 price tags found at places like Forever 21, Old Navy and Walmart- but to my dismay- there is a deeper cost to this fast, low priced fashion.
It hit me on a personal level a few years a go when I was shopping at Old Navy with my mom- giddy with excitement of all of the clothes I was about to get for pennies. My mom- decided after a few minutes, that she just couldn’t get anything for herself- as the recent Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh made the low prices at the store have too much of human cost. I’m not one for spending copious amount of time on the internet researching bad news- but just a quick look into the subject and it’s easy to see the high human cost and poor working conditions of all of this trendy inexpensive fashion that most of us end up throwing away or giving away after less than a year of wear.
If the factory conditions weren’t bad enough- lets confront a staggering fact about fashion: “The clothing industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world, second only to oil.” Wow- I bet most of you didn’t know that- I know I certainly didn’t.
Here are just a few crazy facts:
- An estimated 17 to 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and treatment and an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used throughout the world to turn raw materials into textiles, many of which will be released into freshwater sources.
- The manufacture of polyester and other synthetic fabrics is an energy-intensive process requiring large amounts of crude oil and releasing emissions including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, all of which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease.
- There are 20,000 deaths per year as a result of pesticide poisoning, many working in cotton agriculture in the developing world.
These are just a small sampling of some of the staggering effects of fast fashion. Click through the links to read full articles that will really open your eyes on the subject.
The more research- I did- the more it was clear to me that there is so much more I can personally do in the coming years to reduce the environmental impact I have on the world around me. There even controversy regarding thrift store shopping- but hey- it’s the right direction and it’s a longtime love affair.
So- considering as we have that thrifting is: A) fashionable B) Fun C) Cheap D) Better for the Environment, I am giving myself this challenge: 365 Days of Thrift: For the next year (and most likely beyond) my style will consist of only things that are thrifted, gifted, handmade (by me or another) or pre-owned (I’m not going to now throw away everything I’ve ever purchased from a regular store) I’ll be posting my progress here and I invite all of you to follow along and share your own thifty success.
Love and Thrift,