Before I was a mother, I cared about the environment to an extent. I wore second hand clothing when I felt like it, I recycled, I brought a reusable canteen places when convenient, but that is nothing compared to how I view the world now, having had children.
The world is a much scarier place, and the impact of what we think are simple decisions can effect the world and have an impact that outlives our children. I worry about the legacy of what our children will be left with; what will our planet be like twenty years from now? A hundred years from now?
I see time going by, and very little change happening- I think many have become desensitized to things like climate change, and even the trash we walk past on the ground. Instead of recycling we just toss plastic in the garbage. We buy plastic water filled bottles instead of refilling our reusable ones. We ignore posters telling us that it’s easy to reduce, reuse, recycle; maybe because it’s a saying that we’ve heard since we watched Sesame Street as children, or because we have heard it every Earth Day. Apathy, it’s everywhere, but it doesn’t take much to break away from it. I was able to realize the mistakes I was making, and that I could, and should, be doing more to help. Our planet is going to reach a breaking point and there will be no return, we won’t be able to fix the damage that has been caused. Luckily, we can still have some impact and make better choices for both our environment, and for us as people.
One thing I have noticed, as a mother, is that people like to shop for their kids. Who doesn’t want their child to have the best life they can give them? But what happens to all of it once you are done with it? What happens to all the shoes, the clothing, the toys? How much of it do you really need? I realized after having my first child, my daughter didn’t wear everything I bought for her. And what she did wear, she grew out of within a month or two. Even now, with my daughter being 5, she grows out of shirts, dresses and shoes within a year. My almost 2 year old son also grows out of clothing at even more alarming rate… And I pass them on; giving away to friends, family, donation bins and swap meets. It startled me to learn a few years ago, that some people throw out clothing out of convenience, and this extends to clothing in general, not just kid’s clothing! Instead of thinking about letting someone else reuse it, and taking that extra few minutes to drop it off at a donation bin, people are more willing to throw it out in their garbage, out of pure convenience. There are landfills overflowing with clothing, and according to EarthProtect.com, one person throws out an average of 68 pounds of clothing a year! Globally 90 million articles of clothing and textiles end up rotting in the landfills annually.
There are a ton of environmental benefits to giving away clothing so it can be reused, and the good it does goes far beyond the dump! By donating clothing, we reduce the amount of pesticides used to grow cotton and other plant based fabrics- cotton accounts for 1/4 of the world’s pesticide usage! Fashion is actually the third most polluting industry in the world, after oil and agriculture. Tons of energy, water and and petroleum are required to dye fabric, and then the dye and other detergents contaminate our water and earth- it’s even worse in third world counties, where the after effects of the sewage from textiles can cause cancer. We may get a $10 t-shirt that we don’t care about throwing away, but someone has paid for that shirt with their life: sweatshops underpay, abuse, and exploit underage workers. So much goes into making our clothing, it really boggles my mind that we are willing to throw it away. The money that we spent to buy our clothing does little to prevent us from chucking it in the bin.
Ten years ago, in 2006 alone, 2.5 billion pounds of fabric were kept from the landfills by people buying used-clothing instead of buying new. By buying second hand, one less new clothing item is produced in a factory- and in that sense you are voting with your money. On top of that, thrifting is actually cheaper on your wallet. As a mother, I love well made clothing for my family, and myself, and I have been able to find well made brand name clothing, and even some Eco friendly and organic clothing, at better prices! Just for the item to be at a thrift shop means that the material itself is hardy and durable enough to have sustained the last wearer. By shopping or swapping second hand I stay away from carelessly made fast fashion items that only last my kids a week or two, and that unravel on me.
I also love that I have been able to find unique and creative pieces at both swaps and second hand shops; A child sized California Raisins shirt that reminds me of my childhood? Yes please! A brand new coat with tags for less than an 1/8 of the price? You betcha! Yoga socks for when I remember to practice? Amazing! And if it turns out that something just doesn’t fit with my life anymore, I don’t feel as bad donating it back- I didn’t put out a vast amount of money on the item, or got it for free, and I feel better about it being able to be enjoyed by someone else.
Most of you will know from my YouTube channel and my Instagram that I don’t own much clothing; even my husband and the kids don’t own much in way of clothing. We are very intentional about what we purchase or what we swap for. If something doesn’t feel good and wouldn’t make sense for me in my daily life- I don’t buy it. It’s a little rule I have for myself. I only have enough clothing for what I need to be comfortable- I don’t have an excessive amount of items because I just don’t need more than what I have, and at last count I had:
- 4 dresses
- 5 tank tops
- 2 flannel shirts (one is my husband’s, but I wear it more than him)
- 2 jackets (one winter parka and one rain one)
- 2 pairs of yoga-like tights
- 1 pair of pj bottoms
- 1 pair of harem pants
- 2 pairs of shorts
- 1 pair of harem shorts
- 1 bathing suit
- 2 bralettes
- 5 pairs of socks
- 3 pairs of shoes (1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of winter boots, and 1 pair of sneakers)
And that’s my entire wardrobe for all the seasons I live through in Canada. I currently don’t own mitts because our dog chewed mine… and I own one tube hat. No scarfs for me.
For me, personally, I think that people can easily get trapped in having excess, especially clothing, and I think it may be easier to accumulate clothing when it’s cheap, or free. How do I know this? Because I used to have too much stuff. Living minimally, Eco consciously, buying second hand, and being intentional just makes sense to me and how I’m trying to live now. Buying second hand does make a huge impact, but also giving up the mentally of needing to have more- more is not better, more is just more laundry, more organizing, more space, more choices, and more waste.
So take the plunge! Little changes like swapping for or buying second hand items and clothing are not only better for our wallets, but help our environment in more ways than one. Choose things intentionally! These little changes help ourselves, help our earth, and help the workers who make the clothing items for us. A few small changes can leave a big impact.
By: Amber Allen
Joseph took this picture of us today, while we were trying to figure out which of our herbs had made it through the winter! 🌱 I figured this is a perfect moment for you to take a look into our frugal minimalist lives: Indie's second hand @applecheeksdipe and @bumgenius cloth diapers are drying in the sun (it saves energy and they smell better!) 🌞 All our planters are ones I have found around our neighbourhood in the trash on garbage day! We have given them a second life! 🌸 Today I scored the @freepeople denim shorts I'm wearing for $20 from @lusterandoak – which was amazing because I have needed to replace my old shorts that fell apart (not even joking… they had become indecent for going out in public) 😂 Selkie's @hm dress we found at a clothing swap for free! 👌🏻 My diaper bag hanging on the rail and the shirt I'm wearing I found at @valuevillage_thrift for $2 each ✌🏻The blanket we have on the deck is vintage and I found it on @etsy ✨ The bandana in my hair I found about ten years ago, forgotten in a park 🌈 Second hand does not mean second best!!! It just gives new life to things that need love ❤️ #secondhandnotsecondbest #trustedclothes