Why buying secondhand is not always enough?
Buying secondhand and vintage makes a huge impact on issues like water waste and greenhouse emissions. Still, there are issues relating to the material of the item that could render your purchase as unsustainable.
This is mainly due to two reasons:
Materials made of plastic: Synthetic materials like polyester and polyamide, are made from plastic. Although they provide stretchable, breathable, and warm textiles, they release microplastic fibers into water systems when washed. This is like throwing millions of plastic bottles straight into the ocean. Only, these microplastic fibers are almost impossible to collect once in the water.
Poorly manufactured items: Even though buying secondhand is an easy and effective way to reduce the environmental impact of your closet, it will not be as effective if you buy poorly made secondhand items. Check the material, pull at the seams, look at the buttons, search the brand. Be sure to purchase garments that will last and that are mendable. Buying choices is just one part of sustainability; taking care of your clothes is just as important.
It is unfortunately not just enough to switch into buying from secondhand and vintage shops instead of fast fashion retailers. We need to invest in quality materials and sustainable, long-lasting items even when purchasing used clothing.