Around this time of the year, when we are getting tired of winter, bright, fresh, spring fashions tempt us from magazine pages. Who wouldn’t love a new floral print blouse or a cute pair of coral colored flats?
The trouble is that this kind of fast fashion, that is, buying just to give ourselves a lift, carries a large carbon footprint. Purchasing new clothes and disposing of cheap, worn-out clothes or clothes that we don’t like to wear does enormous and detrimental harm to our environment. From the cost of production and transportation to the expense of laundering, maintaining, and eventually disposing of our clothes in landfills, we harm the Earth in so many ways.
Does this mean that we can never buy anything new to wear or that we can never enjoy a little retail therapy? Of course not! I just think that, with the right approach, we can have our cake and eat it, too. We can buy something new that is keeping in line with our values and what we already own.
Start Shopping in Your Own Closet
I think that the first step is to shop in your own closet. Spend time on one of those rainy afternoons in early spring and really go through your closets and bureaus. Try clothes on, especially those items that you have not worn in years, to see what still fits. See what you still love. Things that you are not sure about — they don’t fall into the repair or donate category — could be put in a “maybe” or “on notice” box to be checked on at a later date.
Going through clothes that you already own can be very enlightening. What you are left with is a core wardrobe of your favorite go-to pieces.
Next, Try Secondhand
Now comes the fun part. Take pictures of this year’s trends that you would like to try (like polka dots or the hot color of the season) and head to the nearest secondhand store to see what you can find. Chances are that what is old is new again and you can find really nice items at half the department store price. Always ask about refund and exchange policies before you purchase any secondhand item.
What if your new find doesn’t work out? What if the color is pretty but isn’t pretty on you, or the item doesn’t fit? Just re-donate or exchange it if the store allows. You can have that little wardrobe update and save lots of clothes and fabric from going into landfills.
Satisfaction Is a Waste-Free Wardrobe
I have spent many happy hours “treasure hunting” in these shops, and I get an enormous satisfaction from knowing that I am not contributing to all of the fabric waste that goes on each year and that I am helping people through the charities that often run these shops. Really, it’s a win-win.
So have fun with your new spring clothes. Experiment and enjoy!
About the Author
Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.