A throwaway culture leads to clothing being thought of more like wrapping paper and less like reusable, functional art. It looks nice temporarily, but as soon as it’s used, it gets thrown away.
However, our clothing culture is transforming, according to industry statistics from NARTS: The Association of Resale Professionals. Consignment, thrift and resale shops have grown at least seven percent a year over the last two years, the organization concluded in its report. Goodwill Industries alone generated $2.69 billion in retail sales in 2010.
Has the stigma of buying used finally been lifted? Perhaps, but there are many factors at work. Being Earth-friendly is certainly a plus, but in an economic downturn, thrift shops look rather enticing. Throw in the prevalence of vintage-inspired fashion and you have a recipe for responsible reuse.
Thrifting, of course, is one of the easiest ways to recycle. Some argue that, even though those pants might have been manufactured in China, once thrifted, the only carbon footprint associated with that item is the gas it took the donator to get it to the shop.
Between 16 and 18 percent of Americans say they shopped thrift stores in any given year and 12 to 15 percent shop at consignment shops, according to NARTS, compared to 21.3 percent that shop at department stores and the 19.6 percent that shop at apparel stores.