One Person’s Trash is Another Person’s Treasure

The rise in reselling and thrift shopping with hopes of reducing environmental effects of the fashion industry.

Natalie Fox started shopping for second-hand clothing when she was just 15. The first item she ever purchased was a blue knit sweater for $5 from Goodwill, determined to reduce her environmental footprint by cutting down on purchasing mass-produced, low-cost fashion.

Fox searching through clothes at a thrift shop. Credit: Stephanie Kim.

“I definitely feel good that I’m not contributing to fast fashion as much as I used to in previous years,” said Fox, who at 22 has a thriving thrift-selling business on Depop (@JupiterHotel), a social resale platform that is typically used to sell and buy preloved clothing. “My ecological footprint has decreased as I’m not buying from large corporations.”

Credit: Stephanie Kim

Fox is among a growing number of young people who favor second-hand or gently used clothing over new threads. A recent article in Triple Pundit found that millennials and Gen Z are buying second-hand clothes 250 percent faster than other generations. The RealReal, an online luxury resale platform, also says in their 2019 Annual Report that more than 80 percent of their customers listed sustainability as an “important reason” for buying their used clothing.

“I was shocked when I realized how much my daily habits contributed to destroying the Earth we live on,” said Max Frincke, a seller on Poshmark, a social marketplace for second-hand fashion. “And at the same time, I realized how small changes in my habits can drastically change the world if we collectively make an effort. That’s pretty much why I decided to start selling the clothes and other items that I no longer needed or used.”

Frincke decided to sell his used clothing after taking an environmental science course at UC Berkeley where he learned that it would take at least 4 planets on average to sustain most Americans’ daily routines.

Preloved clothing for sale at a consignment store in Napa, Calif. Credit: Stephanie Kim.

Frank, who asked his last name not be used, is a 59-year-old resident of Marin County, Calif., who has been buying and selling used clothing on eBay for more than two decades. He is doing it to reduce his economic footprint — and to help people who don’t have a lot of money.

An Interview with Natalie Fox, a Depop seller.

“When you resell an item, people can buy something cheaper than if they bought it brand new making it more accessible to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it,” says Frank. “It kind of recycles the item rather than, you know, leaving it in your drawer or throwing it into the garbage. So it often allows an item to go through several people that generates a more useful life for it.”

Some of the items for sale on Fox’s Depop. Credit: Natalie Fox.

Just like Frank, Fox sees nothing but the good in the thrifting lifestyle.

“There are copious amounts of clothes out there, and if they don’t get purchased, they get thrown away,” says Fox. “There’s always going to be clothes being made. And I don’t think we’ll ever be in a shortage of clothes. Which is why I think that reselling is good.”

Copious amount of clothes that were thrown in the landfill. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.

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