This year I made a promise to myself that I will buy 90% of my clothes in second-hand stores. I don’t shop much – I literally shop twice a year – but I have decided to upgrade my shopping routine and be more ethical to humans as well.
Today I want to share with you 5 benefits of buying second hand in hopes of pursuing you into buying more ethically and consciously. As a vegan, I try to be as conscious as I can about where my food comes from and what the products that I bought were made from (and how they were made), but I haven’t made the connection between my clothes and sweatshops yet. Not fully at least.
Every piece of clothing that we own has a story behind. There are hundreds of hands that have touched the material and there are hundreds of stories that run through them. If you know anything about sweatshops, you know that people are usually underpaid and work in horrible conditions – many even commit suicide from the exhaustion.
I don’t want to pay for that.
The first time I went to a second-hand shop, I felt like I was settling for less, that I was somehow showing people how broke I was or that I was poor. But then I found really affordable sweaters and they looked cute and comfy, and I felt good knowing that I voted for a good thing with my money.
Let me tell you a story about my friend. My friend loves to shop. She loves fashion and she loves to spend money on new things. She denies that she is a materialist, but she is far from being a minimalist or a conscious shopper.
When we hang out, we usually go to the mall and look at pretty clothes. We talk about how one day we will be rich, married to someone who looks like a mix between Ryan Gosling and Chris Hemsworth, and how we will walk around in dresses that would put Blair Waldorf to shame. It is fun, not an actual goal of mine, and it’s also exhausting.
I love her and I know that she does care about people and non-human animals, but she is not conscious of what she pays for when she buys things.
What I am trying to say, is that I have a front seat at observing how people consume things that are not good for them and buy things that they don’t need, simply because they are pretty, cute, and would make someone else jealous because they have it. It gives me the opportunity to re-affirm my values every time I step my foot in a store and see things that I could buy for myself.
I constantly ask myself: How can I harm the least amount of beings with my next purchase? How can I vote for a good cause? How can I invest my money in this and in the people who created this product or thing that I want to buy?
I am learning every day to meet people where they are. I am learning every day to look at people who are not trying to be conscious of how they buy and what they buy, as the sleepy ones. Just because they are not vegan and they do not buy second hand, doesn’t mean they are bad people, it just means that they haven’t woken up yet.
I am still asleep when it comes to many other things, but instead of watching them come up with new excuses as to why they could not possibly be vegan or try to lessen the amount of money they invest in unethical brands, I want to show them that I have heard it all and they don’t need to feel obliged to give me an excuse.
I want to be that person who says: It’s okay, I get it, and you will get there. It took me a while to wake up, too.
Now that I’ve explained a bit of why I love second-hand shopping and how I try to do that more and more, I want to present 5 benefits of buying second hand.
- You are not supporting fast fashion. You are not supporting cheap clothes that were made for little money but with a lot of hard work. You actually get all the clothes that are cute, nice, and fashionable, they just happen to have a previous owner. But you are not directly paying for those clothes to be produced.
- You are bound to make more conscious choices when shopping. Although second-hand items are more affordable, they are also unique and one of a kind. You don’t have piles and piles of the same pink shirt that everyone else has, but you have unique pieces of clothing that you can choose from. It makes you pick what you really want and it helps you create a more beautiful wardrobe. You are not buying because it looks pretty and it’s on sale, you are buying because you found something that really compliments your wardrobe and because you made an effort to find it. It’s less shiny and new because it’s unique and personalized. Do you get what I’m saying?
- It’s affordable. Not only are the clothes unique and versatile, but they are also affordable for your budget. If you love fashion and love to experiment, you don’t have to spend a small fortune on clothes. You can actually get more clothes for less money.
- You are being eco-friendly. Manufacturing clothes take a lot of energy and put dangerous chemicals in the environment, so by not paying for H&M and Zara to produce even more dangerous clothing, you are investing in greener businesses.
- It’s all just a big exchange of clothes. It’s all about building a community of people who get clothes that they like from someone who doesn’t want them anymore, and they can also give their clothes away. It’s not about consuming and consuming and consuming and then throwing it all in the trash, but about taking what someone else doesn’t want anymore.
As I said, I am not an expert on buying second hand. I just started looking into the benefits of buying second hand a year or two ago, but this year I made my New Year’s resolution, to expand my compassion to human animals as well.
That doesn’t mean that I won’t buy anything from the usual suspects (New Yorker, H&M etc), because underwear and shoes are best new – and buying from 100% ethical and eco-friendly stores is not really cheap -, but I vow to build a wardrobe that is 90% ethical and human-friendly.
I would love to hear from you. Are you buying second hand? Do you have any tips for us newbies? Let me know in the comment and I will get back to you.
Also, take a second and make sure to follow me on Instagram.
p.s. – Are you interested in learning three ways on how to be more eco-friendly in school? Check out this post that I wrote.