Buying clothes at thrift stores has become more popular among college students in recent years, even though many young people don’t know how this habit can help save the planet.
While it was seen as an option for low-income and older people, the rise in thrift for Gen Z and youth can be attributed to a number of factors, including social media. Apps like TikTok, YouTube and Instagram feature engaging videos of students showing off vintage items from their previous frugal haul.
The demographic for the thrift store has shifted to include undergraduate and high school students looking for a quality retro jacket or a rare style of jeans. At a thrift store, they can get the item at a fraction of the price they would pay at a retail store. More recently, younger audiences have realized that thrifting is a cost-friendly way to expand their wardrobes with staple clothing and one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Now, it is seen as an exciting activity to participate in with friends.
Fashion resale may seem like an unlikely industry to flourish during a global pandemic, but Internet thrift store ThredUp, for example, has seen a 31 percent increase since the first COVID-19 lockdown.
But while students may be solely because it’s popular, experts say it’s a trend that should be cultivated and continued because of the environmental impact. Thrifting is a practice that leads to less waste and can also guide people to shop less.
Ariane Fry of thrift store chain Buffalo Exchange said, “When we first started in 1974, we had a niche customer base and the stigma of vintage clothing was high. These days, however, vintage shopping has become the norm and, in many cases, buying brand new is preferred due to the wide variety and affordability of fabrics available.” Fry said that there is no shortage of thrifts as it helps thrifters. Allows you to keep up with the latest styles, as well as reduce the level of textile waste that often ends up in landfills. Buffalo Exchange has 43 stores in the United States, including 6 locations in New York, where customers You can buy, sell or trade clothes.
According to Fry, thrifting is more of a passing trend, as are its environmental benefits: “The fashion industry accounts for about 10 percent of global emissions and tons of clothing ends up in landfills each year. Moving to sustainable practices is a great way to keep clothing out of landfills and tackle environmental pollution because buying secondhand reduces the carbon emissions and water waste that comes with producing new clothing.”
Fast fashion, while considered convenient, wastes large amounts of packing material and clothing. The existence of fast fashion along with the fashion cycle puts pressure on people to buy clothes in excessive quantities. Much of it is thrown away after a wear or two because it is usually of low quality. Clothes that people give to thrift stores have probably already been with the original owner for many years without being damaged. As a result, thrift store items are generally more durable. Plus, most thrifters know how to select well-made items.
On the other hand, saving can be a difficult habit because it’s more difficult to find items in the right size, and not everyone lives near thrift stores with low prices.
James McKinnon, author of the book The Day the World Stops Shopping, said, “Thrifting in itself is not enough, but it can be effective if it is replaced in certain ways. Where wearing old clothes is more acceptable [and] It is possible for us to stick to clothing for a long time without participating in the constant acceleration of fashion cycles…it will have an effect. ,
McKinnon said that if people want to reduce their influence, they have to consciously buy fewer items. “If people save as well as reduce the number of articles of clothing they are buying, it will make a difference. If people focus on buying sustainable thrifted clothing instead of disposable thrift clothing, it will make a difference because They can keep them for a long time.”
Young people seem to have to do their own research or ask some knowledgeable friends to understand how to approach frugality and its environmental impacts. But, are people saving because they think it’s good for the earth, or do they just want to take advantage of lower prices and follow their peers until the next clothing trend?
NJCU junior Gabriel Petruzziello said he brought some of his clothes to thrift stores and also said he’s seen his friends wearing thrifty and vintage clothes. Petruzziello was asked whether he believes students are frugal over the long term due to environmental concerns, or whether he thinks it is a temporary fad. “I try to stick to it, but I don’t really know about other people. I hope they do,” Petruziello said.
Why is thrifting good for the planet?
Thrifting is an environmentally conscious habit for several reasons. With fast-fashion sold in retail stores and online, the production, sale, and transport of new, similar items of clothing internationally requires vast amounts of energy and plastic waste. Some of the energy used to produce these goods is a non-renewable resource, which often degrades the environment. Thrifting is a more greener option because it doesn’t directly promote the creation of new material.
In addition, when people choose to save, fewer chemical pollutants are produced. Goodwill’s website states, “When it comes to clothing, the garments need to be grown using pesticides, and then those fabrics are treated with harsh chemicals and dyes that are not only good for the environment but also for our health. can also be harmful. When we make synthetic fabrics, greenhouse gases are released that contribute to climate change. These chemicals contaminate our water, soil and air, and this can affect the quality of wildlife and many of the resources we use to survive.
Such chemicals are harmful to animals and humans due to their bioaccumulation. When the plants and animals we eat are contaminated with chemicals, the amount of those toxins builds up in our bodies.
Asked how he feels about people abandoning their permanent behavior after the trend is over, Petruzziello said, “I’m scared about the future of the Earth. There’s definitely more that can be done.” We just need to stick to good habits.”
Educating students about eco-friendly behavior
Young people may eventually give up their frugal habits because they do not recognize the environmental benefits. They may not even see the need to consume less, especially when they are constantly motivated to consume more. McKinnon said, “The really powerful forces that compel us to consume include the fashion cycle, advertising, the global production of items that make them slowly cheaper. At this point, the most important thing is education and stimulating conversation. That’s how consumption is a problem.”
Mass consumption is currently the biggest threat to the planet. McKinnon said it is important for youth to agitate to get out of the issue. It starts with research and small groups of people who are committed to making greener choices on a daily basis. It snowballs into organizations pushing for sweeping change. Youth need to use social media to write about it, discuss it with friends and spread awareness, educate their peers.
“It’s really good to see that there are signs that this generation may be the one that brings the issue of over-consumption back to the table because it’s the biggest driver of our environmental woes,” McKinnon also said. The issue is how information will be provided to young people, who can work together to accomplish this task.
To avoid environmental degradation, environmental experts and laymen alike agree that drastic change is necessary. Many people are beginning to see the reason for changing their daily habits. If one person can persuade a handful of other people to consider frugality and practice it in an environmentally conscious way, others can begin to do the same.
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The Gothic Rack provides professional clothing options for NJCU students, both little used and unused, for special events such as interviews, work and career fairs. It is located in GSUB Room 211. More information can be found on the NJCU website.