Sustainable fashion in the era of COVID-19

Thrift shopping has never been easier!

Collegian+File+Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Zelda Stewart, Collegian Correspondent

While most of us are aware that the fashion industry relies on cheap, unethical labor, we may not be fully aware of the extent that the fashion industry wreaks havoc on the lives of its employees and our planet.

According to the World Bank, the fashion industry “is responsible for 10  percent of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50 percent by 2030.” In addition, child labor is rampant in the fashion industry. Families are coerced into consigning their children to inappropriate work environments. We’ve been turning a blind eye to these atrocities for too long. Though these facts may be depressing, we cannot allow ourselves to believe that we are powerless. In an era of climate emergency, we cannot afford to be complacent.

I understand that it’s hard not to be seduced by low prices on websites like Romwe, Shein and Fashion Nova. It can also be appealing to live in blissful ignorance of trendy brick and mortar stores such as H&M, Zara and Target that also take part in fast fashion. However, ditching fast fashion is a noble choice and an important step in reducing your carbon footprint. If you want to take a step further, reach out to corporations and your government officials about child labor laws and environmental protection.

Circling back to your shopping choices and your budget, you don’t have to support the fast fashion industry to save money and find cute clothes. Luckily, thrifting has come into style in recent years, and it’s about time! There shouldn’t be any stigma against saving money and reducing waste. Even though stores have been forced to close in recent weeks, you can continue to thrift using a myriad of online platforms, such as Instagram, Depop, Poshmark and ThredUP.

In some ways, thrifting online is even better than thrifting in person. Instead of being restricted to the thrift shops in your area, you get to shop the whole country. I’ve ordered jeans and a sweater from California and a dress from North Carolina. I tried to buy a swimsuit from Indiana, but I got outbid. You win some, you lose some. But between the price of the item and the shipping, I’ve never paid more than $20 for a one-of-a-kind piece that I get tons of compliments on. When you support an individual on one of these platforms, you know that your money is going toward necessities such as groceries, college tuition and childcare. Sometimes a seller will also donate a portion of proceeds to a charity that is close to their heart.

Instagram thrift accounts usually make one post per item, listing a set price or a starting bid. Users can bid in the comments, and bids end after a predetermined amount of time, such as 24 hours. Some shops also list a “BIN” price, meaning “buy it now,” usually at a higher amount. Although a lot of items sell very quickly, some items are up for sale for a while. When this is the case, the seller is more likely to be willing to negotiate a lower price with you. When it comes to payment, all the sellers I’ve encountered accept Venmo, PayPal or Cash App.

Instagram thrifting pages usually have a certain aesthetic or focus. Some specialize in true vintage fashion from as long ago as the 1940s, while others offer modern fashions, such as Lululemon products at a seriously discounted price. Sometimes a seller will re-work a piece, altering it by cropping it, painting it or embroidering it. Your item will truly be one of a kind. Another personalized aspect of supporting these sellers is the excellent customer service you will likely receive. They are happy to answer questions about their products if you’re on the fence, and they will send you a tracking number if you request it. They often use cute, colorful packaging, so getting it in the mail will certainly brighten your day! When @soulsunthrift sent me a dress, she even included a sweet thank you note! In addition, if you post a story about your item and tag them, they’ll repost it! The accounts that I follow focus on women’s clothing, but there are plenty of accounts that sell men’s clothing too.

There are so many accounts out there, but some of my personal favorites include @urbanhunnies, @soulsunthrift, @cloudandfox, @milliondollarstealz and @sadiesthriftfinds. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions or want more recommendations!

Zelda Stewart can be reached at [email protected]