With each passing generation we’re become more conscious of the negative impact our actions have on the planet. The internet has made it impossible to exist in a bubble and ignore the goings on around us, and the days of “I don’t see it in my neighborhood so it doesn’t exist” are long gone. When speaking of pollution, the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors, emitting more carbon than all international flights and maritime shipping combined and its annual impact on landfills and oceans is reaching critical mass. It’s because of these and other reasons we’re witnessing a meteoric rise in buying secondhand, or re-commerce.
Consider these facts on how the fashion industry impacts the environment every day (courtesy of Business Insider).
- It takes 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton shirt.
- It takes 2,000 gallons of water to produce one pair of jeans.
- 85% of textiles go to the landfill each year.
- Washing clothes releases over 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year. The equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles (polyester = plastic).
Fueled by obvious necessity and the desire to make a change, re-commerce retailers are springing up all over the globe. The secondhand fashion industry is currently valued around $25 billion, so besides the “feel good”, there’s also money to be made. As consumer habits continue to evolve, some traditional retailers are even proactively seeking partnerships with re-commerce retailers (see ThredUP partnership with Macy’s).
If you haven’t done so already, take a look at a handful of the globes most well known re-commerce retailers:
Description: Goodwill Industries is about much more than just donating gently used items. They’re a non-profit that exists to help the communities in which they exist by providing job training, employment placement and other community services to assist those who may have barriers which prevent them from obtaining employment. So next time you’re thinking of throwing something away, consider donating because it helps fuel the good in your community.
Description: Quite possibly the most well known women’s and children’s consignment retailer in the United States. They’re process is simple, they send you a bag and shipping label, you fill it with gently used garments, you get paid. They process millions of items annually, so chances are you’ll score a great find if you’re looking to add to your wardrobe.
Type: Luxury consignment
Description: The RealReal’s focus is luxury, which includes designer clothing, bags, jewelry and more. You can ship your items to them, or if you’re located in one of their designated areas, opt for their white-glove service which involves an expert coming to your home and pricing/taking away on site.
Description: Germany’s leading re-commerce retailer. It’s known as a common practice across the globe to check Ubup first before shopping new. Not to worry, you don’t have to speak German to shop there as their site offers instant translation to most languages.
Type: Peer to peer
Description: Peer to peer resale website. Selling is made simple using the Poshmark app. Simply snap a photo of the item you want to sell, write a quick description and list for sale.
Type: Peer to peer & consignment
Description: In 2009 Vestiaire Collective began as a French resale site and quickly morphed into a global retailer. Selling men’s and women’s designer clothing, shoes, bags, and jewelry. They’ll list items for you on consignment or you can list items for sale yourself using their app.
Tailored also exists to help reduce waste that comes along with the apparel industry. If you’re interested in how your personal fashion habits effect the environment, give ThredUP’s Fashion Footprint Quiz a whirl. I learned I’m personally contributing about 703 pounds of carbon into the environment each year, and I rarely buy new clothes.