Fashion and shopping have always been big “hobbies” of mine.
I remember protesting to my mom when it was time to come home from our shopping excursions, shouting “no go home! No go home!” even at that age, i loved to browse the aisles and put outfits together in my mind.
That’s why fast fashion was such an easy outlet for me.
I was able to experiment with style for a fraction of a price, without having to wait for shipping thanks to my living next to the state’s largest outlet mall, home of a forever 21 of monolithic sized proportions. But the worst thing about this accessibility is it always left me wanting more; the thrill of the hunt was so much fun, and so financially accessible, that it was easy to not cherish each item i brought home and instead let it waste away in my closet.
I can barely recall how many items have come and gone from my closet due to this mentality… after all, they don’t call it fast fashion for nothing.
Another thing that i need to contribute my habit of fast fashion to was something that i haven’t brought up on my blog or insta at all; my breast reduction. I struggled the entirety of my young adult life with body dysmorphia and physical discomfort that came with having a size 34h bust, a size that is large for anyone but especially someone with my proportions. I hated my body, but loved to go shopping — a recipe that always, always resulted in either tears or tossed clothes. Always. It as hard to shop, and even harder to thrift. I have deep empathy for people who have a hard time shopping due to having a body that is perfect, but not by societal standards. Instead of embracing defeat that nothing ever fit, i kept buying things. So many things!
And I know i’m not the only one who had this mentality.
And of those 16 millions tons, only…
But this couldn’t possibly apply to me, right?
After all, I was donating my clothing to charities like Goodwill and Salvation Army, with the intention that it’s going to be a great thrifting find for another person in my community. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.
While donating your unwanted clothes was once a solution, it is now simply a band aid on a much larger wound.
You see, donations to secondhand stores are something that make us feel better about our consumption… but do you actually know where those unwearable clothes actually go after you’ve walked away?
In an article by the Atlantic, it was broken down like this:
- 45% is worn as secondhand clothing
- 30% are cut down and used as industrial rags
- 20% are ground down and reprocessed
- 5% are unusable
I’ve always considered donating my things to my local charity to be a win-win solution to justifying my fast fashion habit; I mean, I had great taste, and by donating my clothes for free to these places I was basically giving them inventory to sell, right?
Wrong. Most clothes donated to charities with retail stores have only a 25% chance that they will be worn again in that community.
That means my donated items definitely didn’t grace the closets of others like i had envisioned; rather, they were probably shipped to a for-profit recycling company to dispose of and potentially shipped overseas to other countries who used to deal with these donated goods, who are beginning to send them back — leaving them with nowhere to go but the landfill.
There is good news. The fast fashion resistance is spreading.
Others are starting to wake up to the reality of fast fashion’s careless impact on the environment, and are looking for a way to strike back.
The market for secondhand shopping is expected to rise 11% by 2021, illuminating a glimmer of hope in the otherwise seemingly endless expanse of textile waste.