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Everyday Enviro with Elise - Preloved clothing as your first fashion option

Date: 11-Sep-18
Author: Elise Catterall

There is an endless list of benefits of buying preloved, recycled or upcycled clothing. © Unsplash

There is an endless list of benefits of buying preloved, recycled or upcycled clothing.

I recently attended the Australian Waste and Recycling Expo speaker series in Sydney and left with my head spinning about so many things. Possibly my biggest takeaway was that, in order for our reuse/recycling industry to continue working, and to slow the diminishing capacity of landfill, we need to create and support a market for reused, preloved, and recycled items.

This really resonated with me, especially when it came to second-hand clothing and the catastrophe that is fast fashion.  I readily hand down or donate clothing that still has life and, it seems, so do most of us.  It’s the other side of the equation that is neglected.

I love to spend a day op shopping, but I'd be lying if I said second-hand was the only way I bought clothing.  This seems to be the case for most of us and it is a problem when many of the shops we frequent typically aren't offering sustainably or ethically produced items.

For me, it primarily comes down to time and convenience (because my time is clearly far more important than the environment), but it also comes down to mindlessness and conditioning - I'm on autopilot to go to this particularly store for this particular item.  I asked around, soliciting opinions from dozens of other women, and their responses were similar - when they purchased first-hand over second-hand it was because it was easier and less time consuming. 

Then, in an amazing moment of serendipity, I happened to meet author and sustainability consultant, Jane Milburn of Textilebeat, and received a copy of her fantastic book Slow Clothing. My synapses have been firing since. The book provides motivation, inspiration, guidance and practical steps for addressing the issue of textile waste in Australia.  Almost overnight, my perspective did a 180-degree turn – I simply can’t imagine first-hand being my first resort anymore. 

Happily, there are many initiatives to support this perspective – so many that I can no longer consider buying new to be the easier (or more satisfying) option.  From charity op shops, to private second-hand and vintage stores, to upcyling stores, to markets, to garage sales, to ebay and gumtree, to community clothing swaps, even to the back of my own wardrobe (or those of friends’) and sewing/clothing repair workshops . . . the options are endless.

And the benefits? I’m sure I don’t need to list the equally endless list of benefits of buying preloved, recycled or upcycled clothing. Suffice it to say the earth (and your wallet) will thank you!

See you next week! - Elise

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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 



Elise                                             Catterall
Author: Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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