August 10, 2022

While the fashion industry continues to grow, fast fashion is taking a toll on the environment. The process of second-hand shopping can slow the effects of fast fashion and decrease environmental impact.

The United Nations (UN) reports that the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world as it contributes to 20 per cent of wastewater production and is responsible for 10 per cent of global carbon emissions. According to Chatham House, a U.K.-based policy institute, if the industry keeps up its current trajectory, it could account for a quarter of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

Consumers can play a massive role in slowing the harmful environmental effects of fast fashion. This is evident through the eco-friendly process of buying and selling used clothing.

The Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a U.K.-based charity, says that a 10 per cent increase in second-hand clothing sales can deliver immense environmental impacts such as cutting water consumption by four per cent and carbon emissions by three per cent. The charity also reports that extending the life of clothing by nine months can reduce waste, water and carbon footprints by 20-30 per cent each.

“It’s all about keeping items out of landfills and not producing new stuff that is detrimental to our environment,” said Stephanie MacNeil, Kitchener-based fashion designer. “When you consider how much energy, water and human resources it takes to create a brand new product versus the process of buying and selling old products, you can’t even compare the two.”

MacNeil confirms that the process of buying and selling used or unwanted clothing is an eco-friendly step towards achieving greater sustainability in the fashion industry. While second-hand shopping can be tricky as a result of the current lockdown, she highlights where locals can shop for used clothing amidst store closures.

Listed below are three local second-hand stores currently offering online shopping that MacNeil recommends based on accessibility and sustainability.

1. Luster and Oak:

Luster and Oak is a vintage and consignment boutique in Uptown Waterloo that provides eco-friendly and cost-friendly shopping. The boutique offers locals the opportunity to both shop and re-sell used clothing. MacNeil emphasizes the boutique’s aesthetic and supply of trends.

“They understand what’s trending now,” said MacNeil. “The store is perfectly curated to the current trends so when you end up shopping their product selection, there’s always an option for you.”

2. White Tiger Vintage:

Located in downtown Kitchener, White Tiger Vintage provides locals with quality second-hand pieces. MacNeil says the boutique is thoroughly curated and offers a unique selection of fashion pieces from the past.

“White Tiger Vintage offers true vintage,” said MacNeil. “Even though it’s not trendy, it’s really high-quality stuff that allows you to spice up your wardrobe.”

3. Le Prix Fashion and Consulting:

Le Prix is a sustainably focused women’s fashion and lifestyle company located in downtown Kitchener. The store carries vintage and modern used clothing, shoes and accessories from around the world. MacNeil highlights the store’s use of global trends.

“They have international style and know what’s trending worldwide,” said MacNeil. “You can get a brand new-looking outfit that’s trendy but also second-hand.”

The fashion industry is consistently contributing to environmental devastation as a result of fast fashion. Shopping sustainably can slow the effects of fast fashion. While second-hand shopping is challenging amidst lockdown closures, these local stores remain accessible online options.

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