Sustainability Meets Fashion

Thrift Stores and a local clothing brand encourages recycling, while also staying fashionable

Who doesn’t love the trendiness and bargains you find thrifting? But did you know that thrifting is also a way you can stay sustainable when it comes to fashion?

In the last 20 years, the amount of clothing waste that Americans have created has roughly doubled. Much of it is thrown away or thrown in incinerators, adding to the piles of waste already built up in the environment.

As of 2021, more than 17 million tons of textile waste has been dumped in landfills. New York City accumulates more than 400 million pounds of this clothing waste alone each year.

PISCATAWAY, NJ 5/14/21 LOCAL CLOTHING BINS: Local clothing bins where people can drop off unwanted clothing at anytime. The problem with them is that they are sometimes left unsupervised or abandoned. When this happens clothing begins to pile up creating waste.

Like other types of waste, excessive clothing has become detrimental to the environment. Inexpensive and highly disposable clothing based on current trends, known as Fast Fashion, has played a major role in adding to environmental pollution.

These items are mass produced, but once the trend is out of style tons of clothing is left being unused. An Instagram user who goes by the name of silizzle says…

In recent decades, the rush to get the latest fashions into stores has caused massive production of clothing worldwide. This placed an enormous burden on the environment, experts are concerned.

“The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world” says experts at Sustain Your Style.

NEW YORK, NY 4/8/21 BUFFALO EXCHANGE & NO RELATIONS VINTAGE: Top Left: Store front of Buffalo Exchange. Notice how under the store name it says “New & Recycled Fashion”. Top Right: Store front of No Relations Vintage, part of the L Train Vintage chain. Bottom Left: A coach bag in great condition found for below retail price at Eco-signment Boutique, a smaller thrift shop next to Buffalo Exchange. Bottom Middle: Top floor scenery of New York thrifters shopping in No Relations. Notice the vintage furs hanging from the ceiling. Bottom Right: The full racks of the basement level of No Relations.

Recently, thrift shops have grown into popularity promoting recycling and staying sustainable. There are several popular thrift shops in the tristate area, such as Buffalo Exchange and No Relations Vintage, who are part of two well-known thrifting chains in New York City.

NEW YORK, NY 4/8/21 BUFFALO EXCHANGE: Nia Beauvais searching for new bags to add to her collection.

“I love thrifting,” states Nia Beauvais, a frequent thrifter in New York. Nia likes shopping for bags of all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes. She is preferably likes shopping within Buffalo Exchange chain, but does not mind exploring other options. “I am able to affordably build my bag collection.”

Serving as a second-hand shop, thrift stores have been around for some time. People have different reasons for why they thrift. Data from a survey conducted on reasons why people thrift show that out of 268 individuals 196 actually thrift. Giving a sense that a good amount of people today partakes in thrifting and it’s not something unusual.

Reasons Why People Thrift by Mekhi Morgan & Sam Flowers

Thrifting has become a trend because of multiple factors. One being the urge for an individual to pull off the desired vintage look. Surprisingly, 188 individuals out of 224 do not thrift because of its trendiness. Data shows that more people thrift because of the deals and low prices more than anything else, but also notice how fewer people actually thrift for sustainability.

PISCATAWAY, NJ 4/21/21 BROWNMILL CEO JUSTIS PITT-GOODSON SEWING: Goodson is sewing a pair of shorts with an upcoming collaboration with another brand.

BrownMill Company, a clothing brand out of Piscataway, NJ, uses clothing waste and used fabrics to make their clothing. Justis Pitt-Goodson says BrownMill’s mission is to reduce waste and inspire a sustainable lifestyle. Strategies such as “Urban Upcycling” are put in to practice ensuring that nothing goes to waste. Goodson explains…

Justis Pitt-Goodson, CEO & Creative Director of BrownMill Company

“If something happens to your car you don’t throw it away. You don’t discard it, you get it serviced. It’s the same mentality with something smaller like clothes” — Justis Pitt-Goodson, CEO BrownMill

The process of “Urban Upcycling” includes the repurposing of used clothing, garments, and fabrics, transforming them into products of higher quality. The company is able to do this by collecting clothing donations and also thrifting for their own good. This aspect can be seen throughout BrownMill’s several collections as patchwork is incorporated in their pieces.

PISCATAWAY, NJ 4/21/21 SCRAPS,GARMENTS, & FABRICS: These are a few of the scraps, garments, and fabrics that BrownMill works into their clothing.
An individual shopping on the mobile thrifting app, Depop.

Although thrifting has been around for a while, it has taken up a new form in the current generation. Thrifting does not have to been done in-person anymore, you can now effectively thrift or even sell used clothing write on your phones. New apps like Depop and Grailed, have made this possible and have made it easier to practice sustainability right at the tip of your fingers.

Depop and Grailed allows thrift consumers to shop wherever and whenever they want right on their mobile device or computer. They also reduce the hassle of the seller from lugging all of their unwanted items to the thrift shop. Uploading photos of the clothes to the app is all it takes.

“I like how it’s sustainable by selling used clothes and also allows you to support small people/businesses instead of buying from big companies” stated Makeda, a Depop user.