Reduce Reuse Restyle: Guide to Second-Hand Sustainability

Climate ActionFashionstudents
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Reduce, Reuse, Restyle in writing with pictures of clothes

We all know that fast fashion isn’t sustainable but, as students, it can be hard to find the balance between smart spending and staying in style.  

An obvious solution to this dilemma is second-hand shopping, whether it be in-person or online. 

Social media sites, such as TikTok, seem to relentlessly push a constant spew of new micro-trends, from baggy jeans to coquette bows to ballet pumps. To keep up with this, users on a budget may be tempted to turn to fast fashion sites, especially when adverts for these websites are so conveniently and continuously presented to us in TikTok’s algorithm. 

To match this demand, fast fashion producers hastily manufacture cheap, poor-quality, synthetic textiles and ship them all across the world. Impacts of this include masses of emissions from factories and transportation of products, the industry being responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, and tonnes of fabric going to landfill due to the short lifespan of these products (Oxfam 2019). 

So, what are we, as students, to do about it? 

We want to be on trend, we want to save money, we want to be sustainable. We are torn. 

Buying pre-owned clothing is a simple solution to this problem. I personally argue for Vinted as the best option for a student. 

Charity (or ‘thrift’) shopping has become quite popular on social media, but the influencers online always seem to have much better luck (probably because they’re doing this in Notting Hill, not on Winton high street) and so this always seems a bit overhyped to me. Still, it’s always worth a look in the charity shops for themed socials, and at least you know the money is going to a good cause. 

Online is the go-to for those of us who prefer to shop from bed and the app Depop was once very popular, but nowadays it seems over-run with independent business and vintage resellers, who, quite frankly, are charging extortionate amounts for items. Depop can be good for finding genuinely unique pieces, but for the average uni student it’s maybe not a go-to. 

Now, there is Vinted. For a while, I personally felt put off this app by the marketing which felt weirdly mumsy to me for some reason, but once I started using it, I never went back. 

Vinted users are mostly selling clothes from the fast fashion brands discussed above, but the second-hand element makes purchasing these items much more environmentally friendly as you are extending the product’s life cycle. You can find pretty much anything you would want for half the price of buying new. 

My top tips for using Vinted include buying bundles so you can get multiple items and only pay postage once (also reducing emissions and climate impact), liking items before buying them as this can sometimes encourage the seller to reduce the price, and only buying from sellers with a five-star rating to minimise chances of receiving bad quality items. 

The best part is, if you receive something you don’t like, worst case is you lost a few quid, best case you can just stick it back up for sale and it’ll likely be off your hands in a few days. 

Of course, Vinted isn’t the perfect solution to fast fashion, for example, there are still emissions created in the transportation of your parcel, but using this app is a simple swap for students to save money and live more sustainably to conserve the environment.