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Is Thrift Shopping Sustainable?

Climate change can be seen all over the US and the world. Is it ethical to be consuming fashion while our earth is in danger?


According to the new climate report released by the United Nations in 2021, the world needs to reach 0-net emissions by 2050 to mitigate the effects of climate change. We are no longer at a point where scientists are looking to stop climate change completely, instead focusing on how to minimize the negative affects society’s past actions have set in motion.

COVID-19 has left many of us stressed, exhausted, but has also given many the opportunity to slow down. In that time, climate awareness has been becoming a bit more mainstream. Now is a good time to look at your everyday habits and think about how they interact with a new 0-emissions future.

The amazing production capacities and factory supply lines created for fast fashion have pushed designers to design more, show more, and sell more. It’s been estimated that fast fashion companies have up to 52 micro-seasons- equivalent to a new collection released every single week (Stanton, 2021). How is any regular consumer supposed to keep up with that?

“Fast fashion companies have up to 52 micro-seasons, equivalent to a new collection released every single week”

Stanton, 2021

Here are some ways to make your shopping behaviors more ethical, and contribute to creating a 0-emissions future.

  1. Shop Your Closet First– Did you know that up to 50% of clothes in US closets are unworn on a regular basis (Wayenberg, 2021)? Digging through your drawers is a great way to start a sustainable fashion journey. Basic items can be used to style a variety of outfits, like a comfortable jacket or a favorite pair of jeans.
  2. Learn to Mend- A lot of clothing is discarded due to very small, fixable flaws. Missing buttons, small tears, or a too-long hem are all relatively basic sewing projects. There are lots of videos on youtube that can help you extend the life of your clothes with a simple fix!
  3. Choose Used Locally– So, you looked in your closet and you still don’t have anything to wear! Start by shopping second hand in you local community. This can include garage sales, Facebook Marketplace, or a local thrift store (like us!). Shopping local reduces the amount of greenhouse gas required to transport items to you.
  4. Chose Used Online– If the item you are looking for can’t be found in your local area, your next best option is look for it used online. All new items must be shipped to your location anyway. Buying second hand online, though it does require more environmental impact than shopping local, is a better option than buying new. Websites like Poshmark, Depop, or Mercari are great places to score deals on used clothes online. (New to Poshmark? Use code VISIBLYSOLD for $10 your first purchase on ANYTHING!)
  5. Chose “Slow” Fashion– Slow fashion is garments created by skilled tradespeople who are being ethically paid for their labor. These pieces are often very well made and built to last a long time. Investing in something that will last years will be much better for the planet than buying a new $20 coat every season.
  6. Shop Retail Only When NECESSARY– Sometimes, items will be necessary to purchase. When doing so, try to buy sparingly and consciously recognize the resources to make that item. Treat the things you purchase with care so they can last as long as possible!


Stanton, A. (2021, March 10). What is fast fashion, anyway? The Good Trade.

Wayenberg, K. (2020, January 2). How many clothes we own and how many clothes we wear. Consumption and environment blog.

United Nations. (2021). Climate Change. United Nations.

Author: Rosie Zbaracki, Co-Owner Visibly Sold

Thrift addict, cat lover, and sustainability advocate. Get more reseller, thrift, and sustainability content on or on Instagram @visiblysold!

Published August 2021

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