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The Power of Second Hand and Sustainable Fashion

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

In recent years, the negative impact that fast fashion has on the natural world has come to light. Due to this, the thrifting movement has grown massively to combat the issue.

In the past year, I have started to shop entirely second hand where possible to reduce my carbon footprint. I have found many gems, including many of the top brands being sold at incredibly low prices. I also found the website Vinted where you can buy and sell unwanted clothes, which is great if you want to make a profit from giving away old accessories.

The fashion industry is accountable for 10% of global greenhouse emissions per year. This is from the emissions from the factories, the shipping, when clothes are discarded into landfills or burnt and more. It is vital to continue reducing the fashion industry's carbon footprint to ensure that our climate does not increase above 2ºC of pre-industrial levels, which would have catastrophic outcomes.

In the fast fashion industry, workers' rights are constantly abused. From not getting fair pay, not being allowed to go to the toilet to poor living conditions and death threats, these workers go through it all for clothes that we often wear less than thirty times before we discard them. I highly recommend watching Nike Sweatshops: Behind the Swoosh if you want to understand more about this horrendous industry.

The women's charity: The Circle has been fighting to give all garment workers the right to a living wage, to ensure that they have enough money to support themselves and their families. This industry has $3 trillion to its name and yet it cannot put enough money into ensuring its workers have a good quality of life and future generations actually have a future. The Circle has joined together with multiple organisations and EU governments to re-design the garment industry to one that has human and environmental rights at its centre. You can read more about The Circle's Living Wage here:

There are also many independent, UK based companies that sell ethical wears that you often cannot buy second hand. Here are some of my favourites:

I have bought multiple pieces of artwork from Lisa and they are all completely unique and beautiful. She uses upcycled jean and vegan paints to make artistic statements promoting animal rights and environmental protection. She also does requests for those looking for something specific to a person's desires.


Eco Outfitters is a company that was set up by two mums who were looking for sustainable children's uniform, but struggled to find any, so they created their own. They use 100% organic cotton, which does not release synthetic microfibres like most uniforms as well as being good for those with eczema, and they use ethical factories too. I have only bought some socks for them, as the rest of my school uniform is specific to my school, but they are great, and as they have worn out I have sewn them back up.


Fourth Element create their OceanPositive swimwear garments from yarn made from recycled ghost nets and other discarded waste. They also use compostable bags and paper packaging when you order. Fourth Element supports multiple organisations that are fighting to protect our oceans from the destruction caused by abandoned plastic.


Due to Coronavirus, people are no longer buying at the fast fashion shops around the world, which has now caused approximately 1 million Bangladeshi workers to lose their jobs as well as their incomes. Lost Stock, a fashion clothing box, has been created to support these families. Unsold stock that could be sent to landfill (like the items in February's Victoria Secrets Scandal) can be bought online for up to half price and the profit made from each box will go towards supporting a garment worker. The Saijida Foundation is helping to ensure that the money goes to the worst affected.

We must continue to strive towards a fair and ethical fashion industry. Every buy we make has an impact on the lives of others as well as our planet and what the future of the Earth will look like.

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