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Secondhand Shopping for the Holidays

Updated: Jan 5, 2019

Can holiday shopping be sustainable? Why shopping secondhand matters featured in the December issue of Green Living Magazine.

If you’ve been following my recent fashion features on my social media, it is no surprise that I am a huge supporter of secondhand shopping and especially my local secondhand retailers, such as My Sister’s Closet. As many of us join the holiday shopping madness why not consider supporting your local economy and shopping secondhand retailers nearby. Consignment, vintage and thrift stores are packed with unique and hard to find gifts just waiting to be found.

(A more more detailed version of this story can be found in the December issue of Green Living Magazine)

Why shop secondhand?

There are many reasons why shopping secondhand is a good idea- financial, environmental, to support a good cause, to make a style statement, etc. Personally, I support the secondhand clothing industry as an environmental stance, and to make a statement of voting for a more sustainable and responsible fashion industry. We vote with our dollars and every purchase made is a vote for more of what we want to see in the world.

I believe that secondhand shopping, whether high-end consignment, vintage or thrift, is the most sustainable shopping you can do. The resources have already been used and you are extending the lifecycle of discarded items that would otherwise end up in a landfill. 

Overlooking the Recycling facilities at the Phoenix Transfer Center

Sadly, the fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, only after oil.

Just over three years ago I watched the True Cost documentary (highly recommend), which reveals both the environmental and social injustices in the fashion industry. In addition to the environmental benefits of shopping secondhand, my wardrobe hasn’t been the same, not to mention the money I am saving compared to shopping brand new. 

For me- the fact that the fashion industry is trashing the Earth burns a hole in heart. It is unacceptable and I believe it is avoidable. We can do better. This is where we can thank our secondhand retailers for providing a stylish, affordable and eco-friendly solution.  

By shopping secondhand you are:

  • supporting your local economy

  • reducing waste

  • conserving resources

  • decreasing the demand on the fashion industry to produce faster, cheaper clothing

  • taking a stance to support a more just and responsible fashion industry

  • saving money

Shown here: 

Top- Kate Spade, Size XS, $49.95

Skirt- (no label) $49.95

Coat- Topshop, Size XS, $39.95

Shoes- Isola, Size 8.5, $14.95

Clutch- Loeffler Randall, $69.95

I am fortunate to have the support of My Sister’s Closet in spreading this message and creating a conscious consumer movement both locally and globally. The featured look was sourced from the Lincoln Village MSC location, styled by COO Tess Loo, shot at the Phoenix Transfer Center, overlooking the Recycling operation. 

In case you are not aware, in the City of Phoenix and most all municipalities around the US, fashion is not recyclable in the traditional sense. Textiles are not allowed in our blue recycling bins. The recycling operations simply can not process them. 

Textiles also do not belong in our trash bins, no matter how far gone an old pair of socks, towels or undergarments may be, these items are very harmful once they make their way to landfill. As textiles start to break down and decompose they release harmful gases into the atmosphere, such as Methane. 

Why is clothing not accepted in the City of Phoenix recycle bins?

Textiles and clothing can clog the machinery in the recycling facility. The facility is forced to stop operations two to three times per day (about half an hour each time) to cut bags, clothing and other unacceptable material that may have jammed the machinery.

If you have unwanted clothing, please consider consigning them at recycled fashion retailers like MSC or donating. If you have unwanted and unusable clothing items and textiles, please consider donating to Goodwill which does recycle items that they can not sell, or to American Textile Recycling Service (ATRS), which recycles all textiles, and have donation drop-off locations nationwide. Please refer to their website for drop-off locations. 

I want to convey the importance of both recycling our fashion and recycling our goods responsibly to create a healthier, happier, more sustainable planet. Especially as we move into this holiday season, which is traditionally known as a time of excess and increased amounts of waste entering the landfill, we all can do our part. When we know better, we do better. Please check with your local public works departments for what is and is not recyclable.

If you need additional resources or ideas in how you can shop secondhand for your holiday needs or how you can responsibly dispose of unwanted goods, I encourage you to reach out to me through my social media or website. I am here to help you make the most sustainable choices possible for you!

According to the City of Phoenix Public Works Department, “The 2018 City of Phoenix Waste Characterization study outlined that textiles make up 2.05 percent or 2,436 tons in our recycle stream.” (Unfortunately textiles are not accepted in Phoenix recycle bins.)


Clothing provided by My Sisters Closet

Styled by Tess Loo

Photography by Aaron Blackburn

Shot at City of Phoenix North Gateway Transfer Station

Location Provided by City of Phoenix Public Works Dept.

Thank you to Green Living for publishing this feature.

Additional resources:

City of Phoenix Public Works Department Reimagine Phoenix:



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