We like op-shopping as much as the next guy. It’s a great way to find unique one-off pieces and we’d way rather give pre-loved clothes a second life than buy something new. But lately, we’ve noticed that it’s becoming increasingly hard to find well-made clothing at the op shop. A new Business Insider report suggests that this is because poor quality fast fashion clothes are filling up the racks.
Consumers are buying more than ever before and this rapid consumption has a serious environmental impact. According to a 2017 ABC News report, Australian’s buy an average of 27 kilograms of new clothing every year and are the world’s second biggest consumers of textiles. Two-thirds of these clothes are made from synthetic fibres that shed miscroplastics when washed and do not break down easily in landfill. This means that these clothes do have a very long lifespan, even if they don’t spend much of that lifespan in our wardrobes.
Fast fashion items often wear out after a few months because they are poorly made, hence the huge supply of second-hand clothing that no one wants to buy. It’s also fairly easy to part with fast fashion purchases because they are so cheap in the first place.
Goodwill ambassador Betsy Appleton told Business Insider that price is a major factor in people’s willingness to donate.
“People are more willing to donate as it’s not expensive,” she said. “People were more invested before.”
She added that she often sees fast fashion clothing appear in the donation bin just six months after it arrives in stores.
“When I go to a mall I feel defeated,” she said. “So many of these products are going to end up in a landfill, in the trash, or at Goodwill.”
According to another Business Insider report published earlier this year, charity stores donations are on the rise thanks to millennials. The publication claims that this generation is less attached to heirlooms and cheap fast fashion purchases. They also suggest that more millennials are shopping in and donating to second-hand stores because they care about sustainability and the environment. This may be true, but it will soon be impossible to find good-quality, wearable clothing at the op-shop if we don’t stop buying, and then getting rid of, fast fashion pieces.