Buying secondhand is one way you can be sustainable. Here's how resale can help reduce your climate impact.
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
The resale economy gives us access to the wonderful world of the secondhand market. While challenging the fast fashion industry, resale is growing with consumer demand. This revolution is worth the conversation!
Here’s what we’ll answer step-by-step:
As we become more aware about the impact of our choices, consumers are leading the way in slowing fast fashion and industries that promote throw-away culture.
Be a trendsetter and join the resale revolution with us!
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
Resale is becoming more popular by the day. Every year, ThredUP, the world’s largest online consignment store, releases a Resale Report. We’ll cover some key insights from their 2022 Resale Report, which highlights why resale is a whole economy these days. You’ll stumble upon some good news ahead.
You’ll learn that:
Essentially, consumers are loving secondhand. We’re in the middle of a resale revolution and companies need to catch up. We need a robust resale economy to support consumer choices while empowering businesses to meet demand. Although resale has a long way to go, change is happening—and we’re the one’s creating it.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
One topic that we glossed over is how many of our environmental problems are deeply cultural. We have enough stuff already for everyone in the world, but culture is a tricky force.
Mina Le, a fashion content creator and commentator, shares a fascinating perspective that gets to the core of the issue. Her 2022 video, “tiktok is kind of bad for fashion”, is pretty much the perfect video.
You’ll learn that:
Please also consider the following — Do you work with a brand that uses influencer marketing? Do you follow fashion influencers on social media who do clothing hauls? Have you ever donated clothes to a place like Goodwill and just hoped that it would find a home somewhere other than the landfill? Many of us can answer yes to at least one of those three questions (especially the last one). This is exactly why we need a resale economy.
Consumers must rise to the challenge of finding our moral compass and being mindful about where our clothes come from. Businesses must meet this demand without making new products.
If you’re looking for “new” clothes, perhaps you can look no further than your very own home. This video by Alyssa Beltempo, a fashion content creator and Soapbox Founding member, shows us how. You can also find her on Instagram with similar tutorials. Here’s also a wonderful article about the joy of using what you already own.
So, let’s get creative!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
1. Join your local Buy Nothing group.
Buy Nothing basically IS a resale economy, except it’s free. It’s a hyperlocal gifting economy. You join your neighborhood-specific group and can give and take stuff for free! Read Soapbox Project founder’s post about how she set up her whole apartment for $300.
2. Buy or sell refurbished electronics.
Marketplaces such as Backmarket and The Swap Club help you buy and sell refurbished electronics. You can save money and feel less guilty about supporting unsustainable practices that underly electronics manufacturing.
3. Call in a social media influence.
The economy is formed by two general ideas: supply and demand. Well, social media influencers are kind of responsible for both. Mina Le explained it well in her video — companies ship out hundreds of products to influencers to market on social media, the trends blow up for a few weeks (or days), people get bored, and the items are later thrown out. If you see an influencer you follow doing hauls, you can comment something like: “I’d love to see more focus on secondhand and resale so people like me who care about the environment + saving money can keep learning from your channel.”
4. Go thrifting with a non-climate conscious friend or family member.
Consumers are truly changing the way we think about buying new vs. pre-owned. A super fun climate action is to take someone thrifting, especially if they’ve never been! You’ll never know when you’ll find a beautiful (and affordable) piece of clothing.
5. Reach out to a company you shop from and ask about resale.
It doesn’t matter if they’re a big or small brand. We reached out to Maya's Desi Boutique, a small business selling South Asian Clothing, to ask about secondhand. It turns out they hadn’t considered the resale economy before, but our email exchange is helping them think more mindfully about their choices! Here’s a template you can use.
Shifting to a resale economy welcomes ALL individual and community action. What’s important is that building up a bank of small wins gives us energy for systemic change!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
Yes, you read the title correctly! Here’s how to begin: Do a one-item clothing swap with a friend.
You’ve got a “seller”! You’ve got a “buyer!”
You made an economy — great job! If you actually do this, you’re truly part of the solution, and you can then move on to hosting larger community clothing swaps. Then book swaps. Then fix-it fairs. Practicing the small things helps us tackle the big things!
If you’re not interested in building your own resale economy, you can contribute to one!
This Grist article discusses the many resale programs built by REI, Timberland, and Levi’s. You also try the 30 Wears Test or the #30WearsChallenge. Before you buy a new piece of clothing, ask yourself, “Will I wear that 30 times?” Similarly, go on a mission to wear every piece of clothing you own at least 30 times. For some of us, 30 is easy. For some, it’s a lot of outfit repeating we’re not used to. However, the #30WearsChallenge is (in our opinion) the easiest way to make a snap decision and reject an impulse purchase. It gives you a second to stop and think and ask yourself: Can I get that secondhand instead? If you’d like to shop your own closet, Alyssa shares some practical tips here.
Whether you decide to build or participate in the resale economy, a small action can go a long way!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!