The Case for Resale, Again

I’ve written a lot in this blog about the benefits and fun of resale. Take a gander at my Resale Manifesto, or All the Reasons to Shop Resale. A re-cap:

  1. You can find cool stuff no one else has. 

  2. You save money.

  3. You keep an article of clothing out of the landfill.

  4. You get a new-to-you article of clothing without using the energy required to make a new product 

  5. You avoid using raw materials that would go to making a new product.

  6. You get a new-to-you article of clothing without supporting unfair labor practices

It’s also possible that 

  1. You appreciate that the used item was a part of the life and story of a previous owner, and now that story is continued with your ownership. 

And if you buy at Second Serve

  1. You know that 85% of the purchase price goes to the nonprofit YOU choose.  

Is Resale still the way to go? What about “Sustainable Fashion”

I follow The Business of Fashion (B of F) and they just put out a “Sustainability Index”. I tuned in to an overview of the report, to see if there was any good news out there on the sustainable fashion front.

There is not.

The B of F people checked out 30 companies to see if they were making any progress on the United Nation’s Sustainability Goals, like the reduction of emissions for example, that need to be achieved in order to avert severe consequences to the environment. The U.N. sustainability goals have a deadline of 2030.

The 30 companies in the study were asked questions about emissions, transparency, water and chemicals, materials, and waste. Each company received a point for a “yes” answer to a compliance question. The overall score was a depressing 28 out of 100 (the apparel and shoe company Puma was the best of the worst with 49/100). 

Sarah Kent, the Chief Sustainability Correspondent from B of F, and the brain behind the index, said that it would be impossible to meet any of the U.N.’s goals by 2030 (which is only 8 years away, by the way). The rate of improvement is minimal to none.

Why? Companies will not make environmentally sound changes to their businesses until they have to, meaning they have a regulation to follow that makes them comply and forces transparency. No one listens to the U.N. anyway. Could the U.N. lead a drunk to the bar across the street? Am I right? Maybe that’s too harsh but my point is no one is going to do anything until they are forced, or unless there is a financial gain to be had. 

But “Sustainable Fashion” seems to be everywhere

Even though businesses do not seem to be making great strides in reducing waste or being transparent, the marketing of “sustainability” is all the rage. Everything is “eco” or environmentally friendly” but we  don’t even know what it means. It is kind of like in the early stages of the organic food movement, when any brand could slap on “organic” or “natural” and pretend it was “healthy,” despite the corn syrup and hydrogenated fats in the ingredients. 

The most egregious is when companies have some sort of resale component, but it is on the side of undisclosed volumes of new production. One of the questions not asked in the B of F Index was if companies are reducing the volume of their production. Company profits are accessible generally, but production volumes are not.

Where does this leave us? 

It’s dismal but that doesn’t mean we should stop demanding that the fashion industry do the right thing and literally clean up their act. We can support regulations, and insist on transparency. We can buy less clothing. 

We can buy used clothing.

We can work to change the mindset of what is fun to acquire, and what is meaningful to acquire.

We can flip the narrative of what is cool. It doesn’t have to be new and shiny. It can be pre-loved, storied, unique, environmentally safe and less money to boot.

At Second Serve buying resale also funds nonprofits. Buying resale can help people, help communities.

The fashion industry is one big question mark in terms of sustainability. Resale doesn’t answer all the questions but geez, it answers a lot. 

Until there is some clarity on “sustainable fashion” and who is doing what, I’m sticking with resale. 


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