Zero Waste

My Wardrobe’s Life Cycle

I talked a little bit about clothing I no longer buy in my last post.  But today, I want to dig a little bit deeper into the thought process of how I came to that conclusion.  Right now, looking into my closet, my clothes are probably 30% thrifted and 70% store-bought.  I imagine that percentage will slowly balance itself out and shift more towards thrifted in a few years time.

I always loved thrift stores.  I love finding weird knick-knacks and transforming them into something unique and beautiful to me.  But up until 2 years ago, I only thrifted furniture and home decor.  One day, I decided to peruse the clothing aisle.  That day, I was seriously overwhelmed since everything is unique, so I had to look at every item.  But observing the price tag, it did instill a little thought of, “hey, this is a good price!”

Today, I shop pretty much exclusively at thrift stores.  This will range from Goodwill and Salvation Army, to my local boutique second-hand stores.  The things I still buy new are undergarments.

My move towards used clothing and away from new clothing started when I online shopped a few years ago.  When I got my package, I was excited.  When I opened it, I was annoyed that every single item was individually packaged in plastic.  I used to think that if I shopped at a brick-and-mortar store, it would not be packaged in plastic.  But no!  Every single piece of clothing that ends up on the racks and shelves, an employee had to open it up in its individually-wrapped packaging to hang it.  Thinking back at how many items of clothing I bought from stores, that’s a lot of plastic packaging!

Beyond environmental reasons, I think the main reason why I love thrift stores is finding a great bargain!  My favorite find to date is a brand new, white cardigan from White House Black Market for $2.  Once you can find that kind of deal at a thrift store, it’s kind of hard to convince me to pay full price again.  Of course, the kind of clothes you find depend on where you live.  I currently live in a college town.  So beyond the townies, it is students and professors who donate the clothing.  I frequent the Goodwill store right by campus, knowing that is the store that students from the Chicago suburbs and professors would drop off their donations.  I like to go especially before winter break, spring break, and summer break, that’s when students do their closet clearout before going home, and that’s when really good stuff comes in!

So … where do my clothes go after they have served their purpose?  I try to mend any rips and tears on my clothes as much as possible.  But if it is damaged beyond repair, I will take them to a textile recycling drop box.  If you look carefully, you’ll find them all over your city.  A really common one is the green and white USAgain box.  If I no longer like an item but it is in good condition, I’ll either donate it or sell it on my Poshmark closet.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still like to occasionally window shop at the mall.  I don’t do it often, but I do like to see what is currently trendy.  I am now ruthless on fit and loving the item, so I rarely will walk out with something.  But for me, it’s a fun challenge if I see something I like on a mannequin, and I try to find a similar item at a thrift store.

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