We Suck at Thrifting, and It’s Ruining the Planet

According to a recent report detailed by Glossy, most consumers throw away garments they no longer want, and an almost equal number are averse to shopping at thrift stores – and that’s really fucking things up for the environment.

The figures included in the report, which was commissioned by Savers, a thrift company, so take from that what you will, are staggering. 80 million pieces of clothing are purchased around the world each year, while 26 billion (with a B) pounds of clothing gets sent to landfills. People buy 60 percent more clothing than they did 15 years ago, and 95 percent of all discarded clothing could be recycled.

We North Americans, on average, throw away 81 pounds of clothing each year, 46 percent of us feel like we have “way too much stuff,” and an inexplicable 31 percent of us think our discarded clothing is sorted out of the trash for donation. (It’s not, dummies.)

One of the most eye opening takeaways from the study is that Americans are awful at thrifting. Just 40 percent thrift more than once a year, and 20 percent throw away old clothes instead of donating them. And, our lack of a thrifting culture is a legitimate problem in the quest for sustainability within the industry, the story argues. “[A] negative perception around thrift and recycling is hindering progress in preventing waste in retail.”

And while companies like Patagonia and Eileen Fisher have taken some admirable steps to get their customers to embrace used goods, the report found that the general stigma is “largely related to disparities in education regarding sustainable practices and differing perspectives on recycling.”

“Ultimately, the report argues that meaningful change in retail will come only after better consumer education on sustainability and thrift.”

You can read more about it at Glossy.

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