I usually don’t post on Mondays, but today is a really great reason. October 2nd (or the first Monday of October) has gotten a new proclamation – it’s National Consignment Day!
The United States throws away about 15 million tons of textiles per year. That is 80 pounds of used clothing per American. This approach has environmental and economic consequences. Waste clothes take up land space, take hundreds and hundreds of years (for synthetic fabric) to biodegrade, chemicals used in clothing can leach and contaminate groundwater, and it costs money to dispose of the clothing; $45 per ton on average.
The great news is that consigning is on the rise today. The fascinating report prepared by ThredUp shows that more and more fashionistas are turning to second hand stores to hunt one-of-a-kind garments instead of buying one of many similar-looking things in the mall.
What are you doing with your old clothes?
Does this sound familiar?
You bought a piece on sale which you didn’t really love, but was ok, but it was on sale, so the deal was too great to miss? Or maybe you bought a garment that you loved at the time, but then wore it once and now it sits in the dark corner of your closet and collects dust? Or you have a great quality piece that you loved to wear, but the style or fit is not great anymore, but you paid big bucks for it, and just don’t want to part with it?
Unfortunately, when people finally decide to part with their garments, about 84% of textiles go to waste and only 16% are donated or resold. The main reason for this is that people who throw their clothes away underestimate their value, thinking they are not worth re-selling, donating, or recycling. In fact, most used clothes have at least some worth. Those conscious actions can make a big difference for our planet, economy, and our communities.
Sell, Donate, Or Recycle
If you have a little more spare time you can sell items yourself, make a greater bang for your buck by selling directly on eBay. More luxury and well-known brands are almost guaranteed to be sold quickly and for a fair price.
If you want to have less of a burden listing items, printing shipping labels and dropping off packages, you can go to the local consignment stores and sell with them. You will share a commission with them, and if items are not sold they go to donation (at least they do in one I consign at). It is as easy as calling and making an appointment, then taking your clothes there. They will keep the items they pick for sale and return the rest. After an item is sold, they send you a check.
Our local consignment stores are one of a kind, but there are some that consign kid’s stuff or are part of a chain. Such as Once Upon a Child is a chain consignment store that sells kid’s clothes and gear. If they accept an item, you get paid cash right away, no need to wait till an item is sold. And kid’s clothes tend to be gently worn or brand new with the tags still on.
Online consignment stores make it easy for you to sell by mailing the items. I haven’t personally consigned with them, but love to shop there. Here are several of them:
The Real Real – a consignment store that sells luxury brands only. They share with you up to 70% of the sale price.
Vestiaire Collective – a luxury consignment store. You can earn up to 75% of the sale price.
ThredUp – this is an online consignment store that sells common as well as luxury brands.
Whatever is not accepted at consignment stores, I donate. Stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army can accept anything from hangers to electronics and furniture. Garments that are out of shape or ripped are good candidates for recycling.
Buying Second Hand Clothes
Buying used clothes is probably the only environmentally-friendly way to shop for clothes. As I mentioned already, I love to shop our local consignment stores and several of my favorite online places, which I listed above.
Buying consignment is always fun, because I never know what treasure I will find there. Besides that, it is a proven way to get quality pieces. When you see items that have been worn and washed, and still look great, that means that it will serve you for many years to come. I have a couple of second hand items (and always receive compliments when I wear them) that I bought when I was a teenager!
Here are some of my favorite second-hand outfits from other bloggers:
A little tip:
Find the local consignment store in the wealthiest area around you and go there. Residents of those areas have more disposable income to spend on clothes. Some of the garments can absolutely be mistaken for new ones.
Do you think buying second hand is gross?
There are differences between thrift and consignment stores. Thrift stores (like Goodwill) accept items as donations. Thus, sometimes the items might look gross as they are not as picky. Consignment stores share a profit with the consignees. Thus, consignment stores only accept gently worn items and well-known brands of great quality and resale value. Some consignment stores even dry clean garments before displaying them, but not all. You certainly can take them to the dry cleaners or wash them before wearing. On the other hand, when you buy clothes in a retail store, you don’t know whether an item is brand new or worn and returned. And if you are still not convinced, can I tell you that you EAT grossier things in restaurants that you think (I know, because during my college year I used to be a food server in several restaurants)?
Are you ashamed buying second hand?
I know what you might be thinking: “What would my friends think of me if they were to find out?” Some might believe the stereotype that consignment is only for poor. However, while you are indeed saving a lot of money, you have to be proud of yourself for saving the environment. Plus, you can always find something very unique that mass market stores don’t carry anymore. It is because garments that appear in the consignment stores were made seasons and years ago. Finally, you don’t have to tell anyone! No one will ever guess!
In fact, according to a ThredUP report, high income shoppers are 35% more likely to shop second hand than low income. )))
Can you guess which items are second-hand?
Still not convinced to buy second hand?
It might not be for everyone, and there is no need to push yourself to whatever you are not comfortable with. However, you can still make a positive impact by consigning the clothes you no longer wear! Here are some benefits that come with consigning:
• Declutter – you create more space for new garments you will love to wear.
• Save our Planet – reusing an item takes so much less energy and none of the resources used to manufacture a new one. Textile industry is very harmful for our Planet.
• Make money – why throw away if you can turn your clutter into cash?
• Save someone else’s wallet – someone would get stylish clothes for waaay less and love to wear them.
• Give the clothes a second life – a garment will end up in someone’s closet vs. landfill.
• Support businesses – second hand stores provide employment and often give back to communities.
• Support human rights – when shopping second hand, it means no garment workers are suffering for a new piece of clothing.
• Afford higher end pieces – you will start to consider better and higher priced clothes when you keep their resale value in mind. They will appear more affordable than you think. For example, I recently sold a Helmut Lang cardigan for $70 which I bought for $120 on huuuuge sale. The fit was OK, but the deal was great. I ended up wearing it twice, and then it sat in my closet for three years until my major closet cleanup. The real price I paid for it was $50. The cost per wear was still high though ($50/2 times = $25), but I figured out how to buy only clothes you will love to wear.
What do you think about consigning? Do you shop or are considering shopping second hand? Do you think it is gross? Share your comments below!
Also published on Medium.