Anna Legan West / Contributing Writer
In the past, the fashion industry has been notorious for being the polar opposite of sustainable. Trendy, inexpensive, and mass-producing companies such as Forever 21 and H&M are known as fast fashion companies. These brands produce large masses of clothing year-round in order to keep up with constantly changing trends. The excess chemicals from production often end up in the ocean. Consequently, the fashion industry is a major contributor to global pollution.
In addition, such quickly-made and low-priced clothing is usually not very high quality, so it often doesn’t last more than a few wears. As a result, millions of tons of clothing are thrown away each year. Almost all of the clothing being thrown in the trash could be recycled or reused in some way. Even if an item can’t be re-worn as it is, it can be made into a new garment or used in carpets or mattress production through clothing recycling.
Sustainable stores are increasingly being planted around the country. Some stores offer new clothing that is ethically and sustainably sourced. Others offer secondhand clothing that gives pieces another life instead of being thrown away. Both options are growing, and resale has seen a particularly high boost due to its often affordable prices. According to a survey conducted by GlobalData and Thredup, the apparel resale market is expected to double between now and 2023.
There are many places to shop sustainable clothing in Birmingham. Basic, located on Morris Avenue, offers well-made and versatile pieces that are sustainably and ethically sourced. The store carries a variety of brands, stating on their website that “all of our brands interpret sustainability in a different way, but each cares about the impact they have on the environment and world around them.” The store also offers a consigning option. Customers can bring in clothing from brands Basic carries for store credit, and the store will recycle or resell the items.
Sozo Trading Co. is an upscale secondhand store in Avondale. Not only does it give clothing a second life, but it also donates its proceeds to missions in Uganda. Barbara Phillips, the store’s manager, explained that the store’s proceeds help fund education and medical costs for children in Uganda to give them the opportunity to “live in their country and grow.” Not only does selling these clothes help the sustainability of the environment, but it also helps sustain healthy, progressive lives for children in Uganda.
Many Samford students are also doing their part in the fashion sustainability movement. Sophomore Bayley Levine enjoys saving money and the environment through thrifting.
“I thrift because it’s so much easier to find unique pieces for a cheap price,” she said. “I also love reusable options in every aspect of my life, so thrifting allows me to do that everyday. It definitely makes me feel better that I’m not buying straight from factories.”
Sophomore Maddy Rosenau also purchases an ample part of her wardrobe from thrift and consignment stores.
“In doing so, I not only obtain unique pieces to enhance my overall wardrobe, but I am also able to be more resourceful and environmentally conscious,” she said. “Furthermore, two or three times a year, my family and I try to do a closet clean-out where we will donate clothes that are not being worn frequently.”