A friend of mine once invited me to an event where they sold second-hand clothes. The idea of buying clothes that were already worn sounded absurd to me. Why would anyone willingly buy it? So, reluctantly, I agreed. I entered the event and to my surprise, there were almost ten stalls selling second-hand clothes, shoes, and accessories. I was blown away with the way these things were displayed and the amount of crowd it attracted. The inner-child in me got very excited seeing such wonderful stuff at such affordable prices so I bought some for myself too. I got a pair of shoes for Rs. 200 and a few other dresses for a similar price. If I have to buy a pair of similar-looking shoes in the market, it would have cost me at least Rs. 2000. I saved almost Rs 1800 in the buy. It was quite a deal.
My perception of second-hand clothing completely changed that day.
In a survey conducted among 2000 women in the UK, it was found that women classified clothes as old after wearing it for two or three times. One of the main reasons behind it was that women didn’t want to be seen in pictures with the same dress on social media for more than once (Morgan, 2015). There are many women all over the world who think similarly.
“Fast fashion” a concept now very popular worldwide produces clothes at low cost and short spans. This has led to high production and consumption of clothes, affecting the environment greatly.
The textile industry emits greenhouse gases almost similar to the emission caused by shipping and aviation, making it the second-largest emitter after the Oil Industry (Nature Climate Change, 2018). The other day I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and a post blew my mind. The Guardian, a very famous media house explained how fashion comes at a cost. It mentioned that 7,500 liters of water is used to make a single pair of jeans, that’s almost the amount a person drinks in seven years of time. From this, we can know how much waste is being produced on a daily basis.
Second-hand clothes economy is also considered as a sustainable clothing. It is not only friendly to the pockets but also to the environment.
Another story for sustainable fashion is that a few months ago, I had some formal functions with my family. Getting nice dresses can be a pain on the pocket. You need to go to a nice boutique, choose a fabric, give your designs and then wait for the designer to come up with a lump sum that could almost make you faint. So, I decided that I wouldn’t go to a fancy boutique nor buy expensive fabrics. Instead, I took some of my mom’s old sarees and went to the tailor or “didi”. We then decided to make a gown and some other dresses out of it. I was a bit nervous about the outcome but when the final product was made, I was very much happy. The cost was one-third less of what would have been charged in a boutique and the product was quite good. Here, I not only saved money but also gave didi an opportunity to do something she wouldn’t have done otherwise. Also, the resources were greatly minimized reducing more than half the waste that would have been produced if I had opted for boutique. It felt good to reduce waste by reusing the existing pieces of clothes.
Last Dashain (a Hindu festival), I didn’t buy new clothes. Instead, I paired my old clothes in new ways. And that’s what I’ve decided to do with my fashion lifestyle.
Having a sustainable fashion lifestyle can help preserve the environment by minimizing resources and waste, is economic as it is very much affordable, and is targeted to the people when they are in their most vulnerable state. I think when large masses of the population switch to sustainable clothing, both production and consumption will be reduced, and eventually, things will get better for the future generation.