First-rate Impact via Second-hand Shopping

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I love older things that people have used and cherished. They have personality, character, and soul.

Anna Hillegass

Walking in to a room full of pop music and an artsy atmosphere, I hoped to get at least one piece of clothing and a memorable time out of the exchange. ⭐ Spending 1-2 hours at the event I was able to purchase three items of clothing and a bag for a total of 60 RMB (approximately $9 USD). Two items to wear and one for future projects (fabric). The items I purchased were on the cheaper side of the exchange’s price tags, with some pieces going for over 200 RMB (approx. $30 USD). 🔥

Trying on an up-cycled shirt. Love it!

Music blasting from speakers, the buzz and laughter from the crowd all around, and colors bursting from clothing on hangers and passersby, and to top it all off, hundreds of stories residing between the seams of the clothes on sale.

Getting to go to the monthly event hosted by Savvy Exchanger here in Shanghai was an intriguing experience, to say the least. 

Savvy Exchanger hosts a second-hand/thrift/swap event for a weekend every month. The event hosts several vintage thrift stores as well as individuals looking to sell well-worn and loved garments. 👗Everyone is welcome at a low ticket fee; food and drink are also available at the event.

Even though this was my first time shopping second-hand here in Shanghai – though not for lack of trying – it wasn’t my first overall. I’ve also shopped second-hand in the US and Japan. One of my favorite second-hand purchases of all time is a leather bag I bought in Japan.

The reason behind my long-awaited first-time shopping second-hand in China is also the same underlying reason why Savvy Exchanger was founded. It can be put simply: there are very few second-hand shops because it just isn’t common practice in China. 🏷 Savvy Exchanger was founded to create a space for shopping second-hand.

The popularity of thrifting + impacts of fast fashion

In other places around the world, shopping at second-hand stores has recently become more popular; however, being able to buy “one-of-a-kind” pieces at a low price and fit the current clothing trend propelled it even further. Many people shop at thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. However, I believe that more of us should shop second-hand for the benefits poses for our earth. 🌏

Shopping second-hand is a small, yet significant action one can take to minimize the negative impacts of “fast fashion.” 🚯Purchasing previously-owned garments stops us from buying clothing created to move quickly through the racks and into the landfills.

It is the high supply and demand for cheap clothing, as well as the societal pressure to wear different and trendy outfits that have led to a practice of purchasing cheap, low-quality clothing with the outcome of sending it to the trash can. ♻ However, with the combination of donating clothes and purchasing second-hand, the vast amount of clothing sent to landfills each day can reduce greatly.

I purchased three items of clothing (1 not shown) and a bag for a total of 60 RMB (approximately $9 USD).

👉 Perhaps you are or were once like me, not fully conscious of the consequences “fast fashion” has on the environment and society. Here are three statistics to keep this issue at the forefront of your mind:

  • 3 out of 5 fast fashion items end up in a landfill.” (cleanclothes.org)
  • “Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose.” (Forbes)
  • 93% of brands aren’t paying their garment workers a living wage. (fashionchecker.org)

📣 My invitation to YOU

With these in mind, I challenge you to do some more research on the immense costs fast fashion has, as well as find out the location of a nearby thrift store. August 15th is Thrift Shop Day, instead of going to the mall and buying low-quality, trendy, fast fashion clothing, I encourage you to try and buy something that can be equally trendy at your local thrift store.

On a side note, another option I urge you to consider is shopping in your own closet (or in a family member’s closet if they let you!). Some of my favorite clothing items are pieces I have gotten from the back of my parents’ closet. These are items that they purchased long ago and are seldom worn. Instead of facing the landfill, these pieces traveled to my closet where they are worn nearly every day. ✅ So, perhaps you have some really nice pieces hiding in the depths of your closet that are just waiting for their time to shine!✨

A couple of things to keep in mind + try out:

  • Don’t throw away your clothes! Try to donate if it’s in good condition but you don’t wear it. Upcycle it if it’s no longer in good condition. Or give to a family member that would wear it! Oh, or maybe keep it?
  • Next time you want to go shopping, go to a thrift store! Thrift stores have a lot of gems if you look! They often have new clothes out every couple of days due to waves of donations, so if you don’t see something you like one day of the week, come back another!
  • Shop from the clothes you already own! Sometimes all it takes is a new light or different combination to see how cute a piece really is. If you aren’t having any luck, ask a family member if they have any pieces, they’d be willing to part with for you to check out!
This was a “pool” of clothes to swap or that were available for a small price.
I found 3 items here.

Consider shopping in moderation. You don’t have to go shopping every time you need a new outfit. Don’t fall for what society is telling you regarding the expectation to wear a new outfit every day. Try and switch things up, with the things you already have! And when you do need something new you can shop at thrift stores.

Do you have a helpful tip to share? Want to post a photo of your favorite second-hand outfit? Got some additional ideas to inspire and involve others in responsible fashion? Post below! 👇

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