I have a confession to make. I haven’t always made the best choices. I’m not proud to admit it, however, I suspect that you might relate. Like me, you weren’t making these choices out of malice or blatant disregard. And maybe, like me, you felt a sense of pride and accomplishment each time you made this choice. Truth is we just didn’t know there were better alternatives.
You see, I used to love to buy new clothes, both in quality and quantity. At one point I was even such a Hautelook addict I had to delete the app from my phone completely. I especially liked to buy designer brands because they made me feel accomplished. I felt proud that all my hard work and success afforded me such luxuries.
That is until I was exposed to sustainable fashion; a term I wasn’t even aware of 3 years ago. My eyes were opened to the true cost of fashion. (In fact, if you like documentaries check out The True Cost on Netflix). You see, the fashion industry is grossly unethical, both in its supply chain and its impact on the environment. Not only did I not know this, but it hadn’t even occurred to me.
Fashion industry facts:
- Every second the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is dumped into a landfill or burned. – Ellen McArther Foundation
- Doubling the use of a piece of clothing from 1 year or 2 years, reduces emissions by 24%. -Greenpeace
- The average person buys 60% more clothing but keeps it half as long as they did 15 years ago. -Greenpeace
- The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing each year. – Factory 45
The days of Nordstrom shopping sprees with my Bestie are behind me. Now, I focus on buying less. When I want something new, I know exactly where, how and who made my clothes.
See Also: Your Guide to Sustainable Shopping
Yet, even the most ethical and sustainable brands are still not 100% sustainable. They still are creating new products that will one day end up in a landfill. The only truly sustainable way to shop is secondhand.
Now, I’ve come a long way in the last few years in reducing my consumption and increasing my education, but second hand clothing was the furthest thing away from what used to make me feel proud. Proud of what? I suppose status. Therein lies the heart of my confession: I used to put a lot of stock in my image and how what I bought supported that image. What I didn’t realize then is what you do and how you carry yourself says far more about you then the dress you’re wearing.
Shopping Secondhand Challenge
Last month on Earth Day I took the pledge to shop more secondhand. I expected to ease into it gradually, but just before leaving for Cabo I got the vacation shopping itch.
You know what I’m talking about! The need for a new bikini, even though you already own six. Or the “must-have” new dress for date night, which of course requires new shoes and jewelry to match. I was relapsing into my old ways filling my digital shopping carts and anticipating all my new items. Then I remembered my pledge.
I’m happy to share that I didn’t buy a single new item for our vacation. Instead I mixed and matched some of my favorite pieces already in my closet with used clothes and accessories to create fun and flirty vacation looks.
I was surprised by what I found, but even more surprised by how excited I was to wear my “new” used clothes. I felt as fantastic in my secondhand finds as I used to after a gluttonous shopping spree. In fact, I felt better! I was wearing a story and saving the planet. Bonus: I got a ton of compliments throughout the vacation!
Here are my favorite vacation looks, which were all put together from something I either already owned or bought secondhand.
Look 1: Vacation Date Night
This was by far my favorite outfit! I loved how glam yet comfortable I felt wearing it, which is exactly how you should feel on vacation.
- Dress: Goodwill (2 pieces): $14.00
- Wedges: Clothes Mentor, Chandler, AZ: $18.00
- Necklace: Clothes Mentor, Chandler, AZ: $6.00
- Gucci Clutch: Clothing Swap with AZ Sustainable Fashion: Free
Look 2: Mornings on the Beach
I love long walks on the beach…haha. Truly, this coverup was perfect for morning walks on the beach with my hubby.
- Bathing suit cover up: Clothes Mentor, Chandler, AZ: $10.00
- Earrings: Clothes Mentor, Chandler, AZ: $5.00
Look 3: Activewear
I maintain my fitness routine even on vacation, but Mexico’s hot and humid climate requires light and breathable workout attire. I found these cute, pink Athleta shorts and pair of blue Nike running shorts at Clothes Mentor.
- Pink Athleta Running Shorts: Clothes Mentor, AZ: $10.00
- Blue Nike Running Shorts (not shown): Clothes Mentor, AZ: $12.00
Also See: #1 Gift For Mom, And Mother Earth
Look 3: Resort Dinner
We all have that LBD in the closet, maybe even several. In the past I would have bought a new dress just for a special occasion. This vacation I updated an old LBD with secondhand accessories.
- Shoes: Goodwill, AZ: $7.99
- Purse: Goodwill, AZ: $5.99
- Necklace: Clothes Mentor, AZ: $6.00
- Ring: Vintage by Misty, AZ: previously owned
- Earrings (already owned): Able (sustainable brand)
Lastly, here’s a pic of my accessories. Not all are used, but I did own all prior to vacation and all are sustainable brands.
Accessories Clockwise from top left: Dangling Stones Earrings – Clothes Mentor, Key & Lock Necklace – Clothes Mentor, Mesh Necklace – Goodwill, Blue Zero Waste Earrings – milo+nicki, Raw Ruby Ring – Vintage by Misty, Stackable Rings – Able, Red Earrings – Able
Want more secondhand fashion inspiration? Follow my favorite thrifting friends on Instagram: